Feature film examining the existence of films in which people are murdered on camera and the culture surrounding them. Through interviews with former FBI Profilers, Cultural Academics, and ... See full summary »
Feature film examining the existence of films in which people are murdered on camera and the culture surrounding them. Through interviews with former FBI Profilers, Cultural Academics, and Film Historians the documentary delves into the disturbing history and myth of Snuff Films. The FBI claims there is no evidence to prove the existence of Snuff and, therefore, Snuff Films are a myth. This documentary analyzes the relationships between war, cult films, serial killers and pornography to prove whether or not this pervasive myth is, in fact, reality. Written by
Paul von Stoetzel
Ever since Michael and Roberta Findlay made their low budget Manson family cash-in Slaughter, and producer extraordinaire Allan Shackleton breathed new life into it by tacking on the post-script death sequence and renaming it Snuff, the term has sparked controversy and debate wherever it appears. Whether it be over the top porn-lobbying feminists, reactionary journalists, or BBFC watchdogs, the (still unproven) phenomena known as the snuff film has been the trigger for many inflammatory headlines and public scandals over the past three decades and I'm sure will be for many to come.
Paul Von Stoetzel's documentary explores the history behind the snuff film myth and tries to discover if there's any reality behind it. Throughout the course of the film ex-FBI agents, policewomen, film producers, directors, cinephiles, and even an Iraqi war correspondent are interviewed and put forward their opinions on snuff films. Interwoven with the interviews are clips from many of the exploitation films that have at one time or another been considered "the real thing" and/or have snuff themes including; Snuff, Emanuelle in America, Flower of Flesh and Blood, Cannibal Holocaust, Faces of Death, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, etc.
The majority of the interviewees state that they consider a snuff film
i.e: the actual killing of a human being recorded on film for
monetary or entertainment purposes - an urban legend. Although one subject, onetime Texas Chainsaw Massacre producer Mark L. Rosen relates a couple of emotional anecdotes that, depending on your point-of-view, are rather disturbing: the first is regarding the investigation of a Russian internet child pornography ring that supposedly produced made-to-order kiddie snuff porn in October, 2000. This was all over the internet when it happened and judging from the sensationalised anti-Semitic (they were Russian Jews) articles that are rather ambiguous about the facts, plus the reality that all but the leader of the group were released from prison due to overcrowding(?!), it sounds a little dubious to me but if it is indeed true then it must be the first documented case of an actual snuff film.
The second story is Rosen's account of how in the 70s when he was a porno distributor he was approached by some dudes from the Philippines who said they had an adult film they wondered if he'd be interested in, what he ends up witnessing is some authentic snuff-porn that traumatises him for life. Now, I gotta say I'm very sceptical about all this as there are plenty of stories floating around about people who've seen a "real" snuff film, but who am I to say if they're telling the truth or not? I mean sure, Rosen's story sounds realistic enough, but why didn't he contact the authorities immediately afterwards and have something done about this "horrific" snuff film? When it comes down to it, I think it's a lot to pin on one man's (melodramatic) words and I personally need more than that, like corroborated facts.
The second half of the film covers the misogynist serial killing duo of Leonard Lake and Charles Ng - the two men who built a torture chamber / snuff film studio in their remote Northern California ranch - and even shows some clips from their home videos which depict them verbally & sexually humiliating their victims for the camera. The duo did indeed kill women on film and this is probably the closest any footage has come to actual snuff film-making. The last segment focuses on the war in Iraq: specifically the Abu Ghraib prisoner torture case and the beheading / execution footage that is constantly leaking onto the internet. This section is intercut with many of the actual clips including the decapitation of US soldier Eugene Armstrong and scenes from Abu Ghraib.
All in all this is a competently put together doco that takes an in depth look at all the elements surrounding the snuff film myth and our societies ongoing obsession with death. It is obviously impossible to say whether snuff actually exists or not but Von Stoetzel presents all the possible situations, including one man's tearful testimony and leaves it up to you to decide.
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