42nd Street Cinema

Snuff (1976)

I bought this just over 2 years ago and never watched it. I decided to procrastinate no longer.
Ready for the history lesson? Well, okay then...
Hitting video rental shelves in a Pre-Certificate era Britain this was destined to become a target of the 'Video Nasty' witch hunt that took the nation by storm, earning its spot on the DPP39 list and becoming banned outright. Shot initially in 1971 as a cheapo exploitation/grindhouse picture titled The Slaughter by Michael and Roberta Findlay. A couple of years later, cut and run distributor Allan Shackleton re-released The Slaughter without the Findlay's knowledge. Apparently after reading a newspaper article regarding rumors of 'snuff' films, he decided to make a cheap buck from this new urban legend by tacking on a different ending to The Slaughter where in which a young woman is brutally murdered on set by the film crew, the apparent crew of Slaughter. This version became Snuff.

The plot basically follows the exploits of a Manson Family-esque cult of biker/hippie girls, who also want kill a pregnant actress...though the reason why is never really explained coherently, either that or because I kept nodding off due to the abysmal acting and dubbing. The leader of this cult not only has the name Satahn but, also in his possession, the amazing ability of making his voice echo no matter where he is. One justification could be a reinforcement of his power and control over the biker girls and since drugs are involved it could be perceived as hypnotic. This portion (the bit before the tacked on ending) isn't captivating in the least. The poor cinematography billed with unimaginatively boring and pointless deaths made it difficult for me to stay conscious, though to cut some slack the effects of certain gunshots and knife kills are almost redeeming. Personally I felt nothing for any of the characters and couldn't give a shit who got a shiv in the back or a gunshot in the chest.

On to the ending. The best bit. Worth the wait?...Kinda. Shot in a realistic cinema verite style, beginning with a wrap on a set, what would be the set of The Slaughter. The director begins hitting on an actress, persuading her that they should get frisky on the adjacent bed. As they proceed to kiss and roll around she notices the crew are now shooting them. This is moment where things get nasty. He suddenly pins her down and slashes her across the shoulder and down her arm with a knife, then takes a set of wire cutters to one of her fingers, severing it completely. Taking the knife once again, this time to her abdomen, tearing her open, he starts fishing around in her stomach like he's trying to find the holy grail, only to dredge up her guts which he then holds towards the camera before the film runs out and we can only hear the audio.
Now, by today's standards the gore effects aren't THAT impressive. However, if I was watching this on a grainy or badly copied VHS I would have shit my pants as throughout the entire sequence both the male and female actors performances make it seem so plausible. See this movie for the history, nothing more.

The reason for the 2 stars is purely down to the ending, the way the narrative changes seamlessly is an example of intelligent filmmaking and then to carry out one of the most brutal killings and try and pass it off as real is ballsy marketing. Kudos.

2 Stars


led signs said...

This seems to be frightening and has lots of suspense in it. It sn't captivating in the least. This is moment where things get nasty.

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