Film Review: Snuff (1976)

SYNOPSIS:

A cult leader named Satan runs amok during the summer of love, bullying his motorbike-riding hippy followers into murdering and torturing anyone who gets in their way. Then the director calls “cut” and the crew, to relax, murders one of the actresses. Or do they? No. But can we ever be sure of that? Yes, we can. No actresses were harmed in the making of this movie. Or were they? For the last time, NO.

REVIEW:

Thanks in no small part to the proliferation of Internet culture, Nicolas Cage (with his 08mm) and Charlie Sheen (who saw a Guinea Pig Movie and thought it was the real deal) everyone knows what a snuff movie is. Most people realise that they’re an Internet urban legend, like a reasonable troll or local girl in your area who actually wants to sleep with you. But in 1976, people weren’t so sure. That’s why the likes of Cannibal Holocaust’s Ruggero Deodato and the creators of Snuff found themselves in court, having to explain that their “snuff” movies were little more than red goo and special effects.

Snuff, to be fair, brought much of the controversy on itself. Marketing the film and its infamous ending as real, they couldn’t have been too surprised when people started to believe the hype. Watching Snuff now, it’s hard to see how anyone could be fooled for a second. But then, I’ve seen Face Off (the Syfy series, not the incredibly awesome John Travolta/Nicolas Cage movie, which I have also seen) and have a HD television – audiences of the 1970s weren’t quite so lucky or enlightened. For them, and 1980s’ Charlie Sheen, they had little reason not to believe the hype. Apart from common sense, maybe.

To be fair, the scenes of gore in Snuff are pretty gruesome, by 1970s standards. Even today, while not remotely believable, they do have the power to turn more sensitive viewers’ stomachs. The film opens with our cult chasing one of their own number through a field and warehouse, back out into the field again. They lock her feet into a portable wooden set of stocks that one of them happens to be carrying around, then proceed to torture her feet with a knife. She seems to be enjoying it, a little, which is odd, but not out of character for an old video nasty like this.

The gang continues in much the same manner for the rest of the movie, pausing to torture and murder anyone they might feel like torturing and murdering. It’s like a more serious version of I Drink Your Blood, minus that film’s charm or ksitch. The main event occurs during the last ten minutes, during which the so-called “snuff” segment happens. Here the director decides to murder his actress while the rest of the crew look on. Some of them even join in. A finger and then a whole hand is chopped off, and eventually the poor woman’s guts are pulled from her stomach as she lies, twitching on the bed. It may have looked more impressive on fuzzy old VHS or Betamax, but it’s hard to see how anyone was taken in by this. Like most video nasties, it’s incredibly disappointing by modern standards.

Snuff started life as a grubby little exploitation film called Slaughter, without the stupid ending. After a limited release and subsequently being left on the shelf for four years, it was renamed ‘Snuff’ and a (stupid) ending was tacked on to confuse people. It did the trick – while the main story is hardly sweetness and light, the rumours surrounding it have propelled it to another level. That level of infamy rarely feels deserved.

Were it not for that ending and the furore surrounding it, Snuff would surely have been forgotten a long time ago. Beyond the infamy, it’s a stultifyingly average film. Stuff that in your snuff pipe and smoke it.

snuff pipe and smoke it.

Snuff (1976)

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About Joel Harley

Lunatic, lover, poet.

Obsessed fan of everything horror, Batman and Queen (the band). Lover of Lovecraft, passionate writer, heavy drinker and idiot.

One Response to Film Review: Snuff (1976)

  1. frankie dandridge smales says:

    this film came in number 35 of the 39 successful prosecuted films in section
    2 of the obscene publications act 1959 under the video recordings act in the early
    80′s in England after being passed uncut in 2003 but still remained not released
    for English distribution that prior to film censoring of video media this film was
    traded at video trade fairs and conventions for a high price and now can be
    purchased on blu ray and dvd from amazon and ebay imported but it was one
    of those mundo grindhouse popcorn flix that was cheaply funded in south America
    after being filmed in new York the new York film commission banned it due to high
    volumes of abuse towards women but people still got prosecuted and fined for illegal
    distribution of this film in England back in the 80′s even after video censorship was enforced.

    Frankie Dandridge Smales

    smalestv uk

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