Snuff film

A snuff film is a genre that purports to show scenes of actual homicide. The promotion of these films depends on sensational claims which are generally impossible to prove, and there are sophisticated techniques for simulating the appropriate special effects.


A snuff film, or snuff movie, is "a movie in a purported genre of movies in which a person is actually murdered or commits suicide".[1] It may or may not be made for financial gain, but is supposedly "circulated amongst a jaded few for the purpose of entertainment".[2] Some filmed records of executions and murders exist, but in those cases, the death was not specifically staged for financial gain or entertainment.[3]


The first known use of the term snuff movie is in a 1971 book by Ed Sanders, The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion. He alleges that The Manson Family was involved in making such a film in California to record their murders.[3][4]

The noun snuff originally meant the part of a candle wick that has already burned; the verb snuff meant to cut this off, and by extension to extinguish or kill.[5] The word has been used in this sense in English slang for hundreds of years. It was defined in 1874 as a "term very common among the lower orders of London, meaning to die from disease or accident".[6]

Film studies professor Boaz Hagin argues that the concept of snuff films originated decades earlier than is commonly believed, at least as early as 1907. That year, Polish-French writer Guillaume Apollinaire published the short story "A Good Film" about newsreel photojournalists who stage and film a murder due to public fascination with crime news; in the story, the public believes the murder is real but police inaccurately determine the crime was faked.[7] Hagin also proposes that the film Network (1976) contains an explicit (fictional) snuff film depiction when television news executives orchestrate the on-air murder of a news anchor to boost ratings.

According to film critic Geoffrey O'Brien, "whether or not commercially distributed 'snuff' movies actually exist, the possibility of such movies is implicit in the stock B-movie motif of the mad artist killing his models, as in A Bucket of Blood [1959], Color Me Blood Red [1965], or Decoy for Terror [1967]" also known as Playgirl Killer.[8] The concept of "snuff films" being made for profit became more widely known with the commercial film Snuff (1976).[9][10][11] This low-budget exploitation horror film, originally titled Slaughter, was directed by Michael and Roberta Findlay. In an interview decades later, Roberta Findlay said the film's distributor Allan Shackleton had read about snuff films being imported from South America and retitled Slaughter to Snuff, to exploit the idea;[12] he also added a new ending that depicted an actress being murdered on a film set.[13] The promotion of Snuff on its second release suggested it featured the murder of an actress: "The film that could only be made in South America... where life is CHEAP",[14] but that was false advertising.[13] Shackleton put out false newspaper clippings that reported a citizens group's crusading against the film[9] and hired people to act as protesters to picket screenings.[15]

False snuff films

The Guinea Pig films

The first two films in the Japanese Guinea Pig series are designed to look like snuff films; the video is grainy and unsteady, as if recorded by amateurs. The sixth film in the series, Mermaid in a Manhole, allegedly served as an inspiration for Japanese serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki, who murdered several preschool girls in the late 1980s.[16]

In 1991, actor Charlie Sheen became convinced that Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985), the second film in the series, depicted an actual homicide and contacted the FBI.[3] The Bureau initiated an investigation but closed it after the series' producers released a "making of" film demonstrating the special effects used to simulate the murders.[17]

Cannibal Holocaust

The Italian director Ruggero Deodato was charged after rumors that the depictions of the killing of the main actors in his film Cannibal Holocaust (1980) were real. He was able to clear himself of the charges after the actors made an appearance in court.[18]

Other than graphic gore, the film contains several scenes of sexual violence and the genuine deaths of six animals onscreen and one off screen, issues which find Cannibal Holocaust in the midst of controversy to this day. It has also been claimed that Cannibal Holocaust is banned in over 50 countries,[19] although this has never been verified. In 2006, Entertainment Weekly magazine named Cannibal Holocaust as the 20th most controversial film of all-time.[20]

August Underground trilogy

Trilogy of films about home footages made by a serial killer and his friends, depicting gore, sex, torture and murders. Some scenes are distributed in the darknet as if it were real.

See also


  1. ^ American Heritage Dictionary, s.v.
  2. ^ "Snuff films false". October 31, 2006. Retrieved October 2, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Barbara Mikkelson, "A Pinch of Snuff",, 31 Oct 2006, accessed 8 April 2007".
  4. ^ extract from book
  5. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed, 1913
  6. ^ John Camden Hotten, A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Words, 5th edition
  7. ^ Boaz Hagin. Killed Because of Lousy Ratings: The Hollywood History of the Snuff Film. Journal of Popular Film and Television, 2010 DOI: 10.1080/01956050903578414
  8. ^ O’Brien, Geoffrey (1993). "Horror for Pleasure". The New York Review of Books. (April 22 issue), n.1.
  9. ^ a b Stine, Scott Aaron (1999). "The Snuff Film: The Making of an Urban Legend". Skeptical Inquirer. 23.3. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  10. ^ "Do snuff movies exist?". Documentary, part 1. YouTube.
  11. ^ Cook, David A. (2000). Lost Illusions: American Cinema in The Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam. University of California Press. p. 233. ISBN 0-520-23265-8.
  12. ^ "The Curse of Her Filmography: Roberta Findlay's grindhouse legacy". New York Press. July 27, 2005.
  13. ^ a b Lees, Martina (October 18, 2003). "Death robe of secrecy hangs around snuff films". Beeld. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved December 13, 2010. (originally in Afrikaans)
  14. ^ Hawkins, Joan (2000). Cutting Edge: Art-Horror and The Horrific Avant-Garde. University of Minnesota Press. p. 136. ISBN 0-8166-3413-0.
  15. ^ "Snuff". Britannica Online Encyclopedia.
  16. ^ "Serial killer inspired by Guinea Pig films". Retrieved June 17, 2008.
  17. ^ McDowell, R. (August 7, 1994). "Movies to Die For". The San Francisco Chronicle. p. A5.
  18. ^ Ruggero Deodato (interviewee) (2003). In the Jungle: The Making of Cannibal Holocaust (Documentary). Italy: Alan Young Pictures.
  19. ^ Cannibal Holocaust 25th Anniversary Edition (Media notes). Ruggero Deodato. UK: VIPCO (Video Instant Picture Company). 2004 [1980]. p. back cover. VIP666SE.CS1 maint: others (link)
  20. ^ "The 25 Most Controversial Films of All-Time". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 14, 2006.

Further reading

  • David Kerekes and David Slater. Killing for Culture: Death Film from Mondo to Snuff (Creation Cinema Collection). London: Creation Books, 1996.

External links

A Beginner's Guide to Snuff

A Beginner's Guide to Snuff is a 2016 horror comedy directed by Mitchell Altieri.

A Serbian Film

A Serbian Film (Serbian: Српски филм / Srpski film) is a 2010 Serbian exploitation horror-thriller film produced and directed by Srđan Spasojević in his feature film debut. Spasojević also co-wrote the film with Aleksandar Radivojević. It tells the story of a financially struggling porn star who agrees to participate in an "art film", only to discover that he has been drafted into a snuff film with pedophilic and necrophilic themes. The film stars Serbian actors Srđan Todorović and Sergej Trifunović.

Upon its debut on the art film circuit, the film received substantial attention and controversy for its graphic depictions of pornography, rape, necrophilia, and child sexual abuse. The film was investigated in Serbia for crimes against sexual morals and crimes related to the protection of minors. The film has been banned in Spain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Norway, and was temporarily banned from screening in Brazil.

American Pleasure Club

American Pleasure Club (formerly known as Teen Suicide) is an American indie rock band from Baltimore, Maryland.

August Underground's Mordum

August Underground's Mordum is a 2003 direct-to-video horror exploitation film created and distributed by Toetag Pictures. It is the sequel to 2001's August Underground, and was followed by August Underground's Penance in 2007. The film is purposely shot in an amateur way to pass off the film as a faux snuff film.

Broken (1993 film)

Broken (informally known as The Broken Movie) is a 1993 horror musical short film/long form music video filmed and directed by Peter Christopherson, based on a scenario by Trent Reznor, the founder of the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails.

The film is a companion piece to the band's 1992 EP Broken, featuring its songs and music and compiling its music videos (the exception being "Last" and the two hidden tracks). The movie, roughly 20 minutes in length, weaves Broken's four music videos together via a violent "snuff film" framing sequence, concluding with an otherwise unreleased video for the EP's final song "Gave Up," setting the conclusion of the film's frame story to the song.

Due to its extremely graphic content, the Broken movie was never officially released, but was leaked as a bootleg which became heavily traded on VHS in the 1990s, and more recently via the Internet. Reznor once said that the Broken movie "...makes 'Happiness in Slavery' look like a Disney movie." While his comments about the movie have been cryptic at best, he makes no secret of the film's existence.

Cannibal Holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust is a 1980 Italian cannibal horror film directed by Ruggero Deodato and written by Gianfranco Clerici. It stars Robert Kerman as Harold Monroe, an anthropologist from New York University who leads a rescue team into the Amazon rainforest to locate a crew of filmmakers. Played by Carl Gabriel Yorke, Francesca Ciardi, Perry Pirkanen, and Luca Barbareschi, the crew had gone missing while filming a documentary on local cannibal tribes. When the rescue team is only able to recover the crew's lost cans of film, an American television station wishes to broadcast the footage as a sensationalized television special. Upon viewing the reels, Monroe is appalled by the team's actions and objects to the station's intent to air the documentary.

Influenced by the documentaries of Mondo director Gualtiero Jacopetti, Cannibal Holocaust was inspired by Italian media coverage of Red Brigade terrorism. The coverage included news reports that Deodato believed to be staged, an idea which became an integral aspect of the film's story. Approximately half of the film consists of the documentary crew's lost footage, the presentation of which innovated the found footage genre that was later popularized in American cinema by The Blair Witch Project. Noted for its realism, Cannibal Holocaust was filmed primarily on location in the Amazon rainforest of Colombia with indigenous tribes interacting with American and Italian actors.Cannibal Holocaust achieved notoriety as its graphic violence aroused a great deal of controversy. After its premiere in Italy, it was ordered to be seized by a local magistrate, and Deodato was arrested on obscenity charges. He was later charged with multiple counts of murder due to rumors that claimed several actors were killed on camera. Although Deodato was cleared of these charges, the film was banned in Italy, Australia, and several other countries due to its graphic content, including sexual assault and genuine violence toward animals. Although some nations have since revoked the ban, it is still upheld in several countries. In retrospective analyses, the film's violence has been noted as commentary on ethics in journalism, exploitation of developing countries, and the nature of modern society versus uncivilized society, although these interpretations have also been met with criticism.

Graphic violence

Graphic violence is the depiction of especially vivid, brutal and realistic acts of violence in visual media such as literature, film, television, and video games. It may be real, simulated live action, or animated.

The "graphic" in graphic violence is a synonym for "explicit", referring to the clear and unabashed nature of the violence portrayed; this is what differentiates true graphic

Guinea Pig (film series)

The Guinea Pig films (ギニーピッグ, Ginī Piggu) are a series of six controversial Japanese horror films from the 1980–90s. The series achieved global notoriety mostly for the first two films as the producer needed to prove that nobody was actually hurt or murdered. The producer Hideshi Hino's original concept was to create a film adaptation of his manga work.

The tapes gained notoriety in Japan during the late 1980s and early 1990s when the sixth film of the series (Devil Woman Doctor) was found showcased in the 5,763 videotape collection of Japanese serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki. It was erroneously reported originally as being the second film of the series. It was widely but mistakenly believed that Miyazaki re-enacted a scene from the second film as a part of his crimes. Because of the initial controversy surrounding the series, the series went out of production in Japan. However, the entire series has since been reissued on DVD in the United States, the Netherlands, the UK, and Austria.

In 1991, the films received additional media attention when film personality Chris Gore met actor Charlie Sheen and gave him a copy. Sheen then watched Flowers of Flesh and Blood and, mistaking it for a genuine snuff film, contacted the FBI to report it. FBI agent Dan Codling informed them that the FBI and the Japanese authorities were already investigating the filmmakers, who were repeatedly interviewed by the Japanese police and eventually summoned to court to prove that the special effects were indeed fake.The 1989 Japanese splatter film Lucky Sky Diamond is often mis-attributed to the Guinea Pig series as Guinea Pig: Lucky Sky Diamond, but is, in fact, unrelated to the series.


Hack! is a 2007 American horror film directed and written by Matt Flynn. The film centres on a group of students who, while on a field trip, become victims in a snuff film, and stars Danica McKellar, Jay Kenneth Johnson, William Forsythe, Sean Kanan, Juliet Landau, Justin Chon, Travis Schuldt, Adrienne Frantz and Gabrielle Richens. The film was released in the UK on July 20, 2007 before receiving a US release on December 11, 2007.

Pop Crimes

Pop Crimes is a 2009 solo album by Australian musician Rowland S. Howard. The album was released on 16 October 2009, ten years after Howard's previous solo album Teenage Snuff Film, and two-and-a-half months before his death from liver cancer on 30 December. The album was released in the United States by Fat Possum Records in August 2014.

Rowland S. Howard

Rowland Stuart Howard (24 October 1959 – 30 December 2009) was an Australian rock musician, guitarist and songwriter, best known for his work with the post-punk group The Birthday Party and his subsequent solo career.

Sacred and Profane

Sacred and Profane is a 1987 novel by Faye Kellerman. It is second in the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series.

A Fawcett Crest Book published by Ballantine Books.Timeline: About six months after The Ritual Bath, starts Christmas Eve, Decker is 39.

Place: Los Angeles and Yeshiva Ohavei Torah, Foothill Division LAPD.

Sadik 2

Sadik 2 is a 2013 French horror film that was directed by Robin Entreinger. The film had its world premiere on 23 August 2013 at the London FrightFest Film Festival and centers upon a group of friends that finds themselves hunted by a sadistic killer.The film's title implies that it is the second film in a series but is actually the first film, as Entreinger thought that it would be interesting to film a "sequel" before creating the first film. Sadik 2 references the fictional first film by having the characters reference it by commenting that Sadik became popular due to rumors that it was a snuff film, as all of the actors were genuinely murdered on camera.

Snuff (film)

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.

Teenage Snuff Film

Teenage Snuff Film is the first solo album by Rowland S. Howard. Former The Birthday Party bandmate Mick Harvey contributes drums, organ and guitar, while Brian Hooper of The Beasts of Bourbon features on bass guitar. It contains eight original songs, and two cover versions: "White Wedding" by Billy Idol, and "She Cried" (previously performed by The Shangri-Las, Johnny Thunders, and others).

The album was produced, mixed and mastered by Lindsay Gravina at Birdland Studios in Prahran and Sing Sing Recording Studios in Cremorne.

The album was reissued as a limited edition double LP in October 2011, with minor track listing changes.


Tesis (English: Thesis) is a 1996 Spanish thriller film. It is the feature debut of director Alejandro Amenábar and was written by Amenabar and Mateo Gil. The film was made while he was studying at the Complutense University in Madrid. The film won seven 1996 Goya Awards including the award for Best Film, Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. It stars Ana Torrent, Fele Martínez and Eduardo Noriega.

The Great American Snuff Film

The Great American Snuff Film is a 2003 American horror film directed by Sean Tretta. Purporting to be real footage taken by a pair of serial killers, the film follows two young women who have been kidnapped and are being forced to star in a snuff film. The film is shown in a mix of third-person view and found footage-style. In 2010, the film was followed by a sequel titled The Greatest American Snuff Film.

The Murder of Princess Diana

The Murder of Princess Diana is a 2007 Lifetime Television movie, directed by John Strickland and starring Jennifer Morrison as an American reporter. The film was based on the book by Noel Botham. Reg Gadney and Emma Reeves wrote the teleplay.

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