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Snuff is a 1976 American splatter film directed by Michael Findlay and Horacio Fredriksson. It is most notorious for being marketed as if it were an actual snuff film. This picture contributed to the urban legend of snuff films, although the concept did not originate with it.
Original theatrical release poster
|Written by||Michael Findlay|
|Music by||Rick Howard|
|Distributed by||Monarch Releasing Corporation|
Actress Terry London and her producer, Max Marsh, visit an unnamed country in South America. A female biker cult led by a man named Satán (//) stalks and eventually murders the pregnant London and her circle of friends.
- Margarita Amuchástegui as Angelica
- Ana Carro as Ana
- Liliana Fernández Blanco as Susanna
- Roberta Findlay as Carmela (voice)
- Alfredo Iglesias as Horst's father
- Enrique Larratelli as Satán
- Mirta Massa as Terry London
- Aldo Mayo as Max Marsh
- Clao Villanueva as Horst Frank
- Michael Findlay as Detective (uncredited)
The film started out as a low-budget exploitation film titled Slaughter [a] made by the husband-and-wife grindhouse filmmaking team of Michael and Roberta Findlay. Filmed in Argentina in 1971 on a budget of $30,000, it depicted the actions of a Manson-esque murder cult, and was shot mainly without sound due to the actors understanding very little English. The film's financier, Jack Bravman, took an out-of-court settlement from American International Pictures to allow it to use the title Slaughter for its Blaxploitation film starring Jim Brown. Some sources state that the Findlays' film received an extremely limited theatrical release, while others indicate it was never screened theatrically at all under its original title. In any event, independent low-budget distributor and sometime producer Allan Shackleton took the film and shelved it for four years—but was inspired to release it with a new ending, unbeknownst to the original filmmakers, after reading a newspaper article in 1975 on the rumor of snuff films produced in South America, and deciding to cash in on the urban legend. He added a new ending, directed in a vérité style by Simon Nuchtern, in which a woman is brutally murdered and dismembered by a film crew, supposedly the crew of Slaughter. The new footage purportedly showed an actual murder, and was spliced onto the end of Slaughter with an abrupt cut suggesting that the footage was unplanned and the murder authentic. This new version of the film was released under the title Snuff, with the tagline "The film that could only be made in South America... where Life is CHEAP!" Shackleton also removed all other credits from the film to increase the air of mystery surrounding its production.
Distributor Shackleton reportedly hired fake protesters to picket movie theaters showing the film. Although the film was exposed as a hoax in Variety in 1976, it became popular in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Boston. Twenty female protesters protested the film's return engagement in Rochester, New York at the Holiday Ciné. Four of those protesters were arrested after they broke the poster frame to destroy the film's poster.
The rumours persisted that the film showed a real-life murder. "[P]rompted by complaints and petitions from well-known writers, including Eric Bentley and Susan Brownmiller, and legislators", an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the film's production was conducted by New York District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, who dismissed the supposedly "real" murder as "nothing more than conventional trick photography—as is evident to anyone who sees the movie". Morgenthau reassured the public that the actress apparently dismembered and killed in the ending of the film "is alive and well", having urged the police to trace her.
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The film was released on DVD by Blue Underground on July 29, 2003. Blue Underground later released the film on DVD Special edition and for the first time on Blu-ray on October 22, 2013. It was last released by Cheezy Flicks on March 13, 2018.
Richard Eder of the New York Times described it as "a horrendously written, photographed, acted, directed and dubbed bit of verdigris showing a group of devil-girls massacring people." Joel Harley from HorrorNews.net wrote in his review of the film, "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." Bill Gibron from PopMatters gave the film 3/10 stars, writing, "Unlike modern gorefests which strive for autopsy like realism in all facets of the F/X, Snuff is cheap and cheesy. While it[s] legend lives on, its realities end any speculation or scandal for that matter. No one really dies onscreen during the last few minutes of this movie. Your sense of gullibility, on the other hand..." Adam Tyner from DVD Talk called the film "basically unwatchable in its original form". Tyner criticized the film's unnecessarily dragged out scenes, lack of tension, and dubbed dialogue, which he called "sleepy, flat, lifeless, and howlingly inept all around, never even making an attempt to match any frantically flapping lips".
- Some sources give the film's title as The Slaughter.
- Manrupe, Raúl; Portela, María Alejandra (1995). Un diccionario de films argentinos. Buenos Aires: Corregidor. p. 28. ISBN 9500508966.
- "Cashing in on rumors that a 'snuff' film had been smuggled into the United States from South America, Schackleton retitled his movie Snuff and released it in late 1975, advertising its faked evisceration as the real thing", David A. Cook, Lost Illusions: American Cinema in The Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, page 233 (University of California Press, Ltd., 2000). ISBN 0-520-23265-8
- "A Minneapolis police officer, Richard Morrill, wrote in his official report: 'Everything depicted in the final scene appeared to be in fact to be actually happening to the girl. The dismemberment of her body was so real that it made me physically sick'." Article, "Snuff: 'Real murder' brings tape censorship nearer", page 56, in Video Viewer (June–July 1982, Video International Publications Ltd. General Editor Elkan Allan).
- Kerekes, David (2016). Killing for Culture: From Edison to Isis: A New History of Death on Film. Headpress. ISBN 9781909394353.
The Findlays' movie was never theatrically released in its original form.
- Joan Hawkins, Cutting Edge: Art-Horror and the Horrific Avant-Garde, p. 136 (University of Minnesota Press, 2000). ISBN 0-8166-3413-0
- Stine, Scott Aaron (May–June 1999). "The Snuff Film: The Making of an Urban Legend". Skeptical Inquirer. 23 (3).
- Rockoff, Adam (2015). The Horror of It All: One Moviegoer's Love Affair with Masked Maniacs, Frightened Virgins, and the Living Dead. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781476761831.
- Thrower, Stephen (2014). Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents (3rd ed.). Surrey, England: Fab Press. ISBN 9781903254462.
- "The Curse of her filmography: Roberta Findlay's grindhouse legacy", New York Press, July 27, 2005
- Horrorwatch : Snuff
- Leonard, John (February 27, 1976). "Commentary: Cretin's Delight on Film". The New York Times. p. 21.
- David A. Cook, Lost Illusions: American Cinema in The Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, page 233 (University of California Press, Ltd., 2000). ISBN 0-520-23265-8
- "50 Picket Movie House To Protest Violent Film". The New York Times. February 16, 1976. p. 22.
- Joan Hawkins, Cutting Edge: Art-Horror and the Horrific Avant-Garde, p. 137 (University of Minnesota Press, 2000). ISBN 0-8166-3413-0
- "Morgenthau Finds Film Dismembering Was Indeed a Hoax". The New York Times. 10 March 1976. p. 41.
- Liam T. Sanford, "Nasties News", p. 49 (Video Viewer magazine, July 1983)
- Whitney Strub, Perversion For Profit: The Politics of Pornography and The Rise of The New Right, p. 232 (Columbia University Press, 2010). ISBN 978-0-231-14886-3
- "Does Snuff Exist?". The Dark Side of Porn. Season 2. April 18, 2006. Event occurs at 6:27. Channel 4.
- "Snuff (1974) - Michael Findlay, Roberta Findlay". Allmovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
- Eder, Richard (March 7, 1976). "'Snuff' Is Pure Poison". The New York Times. p. 13.
- Harley, Joel. "Film Review: Snuff (1975)". HorrorNews.net. Joel Harley. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
- Gibron, Bill. "'Snuff' and the Film that Started a Scandal - PopMatters". PopMatters.com. Bill Gibron. Retrieved 6 July 2018.
- Tyner, Adam. "Snuff (Blu-ray) : DVD Talk Review of the Blu-ray". DVD Talk.com. Adam Tyner. Retrieved 6 July 2018.