Monday, January 18, 2016

Snuff (1976)

Setting aside the question of whether such movies actually exist, the notion of so-called “snuff” films—motion pictures containing records of actual murders—has enjoyed notoriety since the concept was introduced in the early ’70s. It seems this dark mythos emanates from lore surrounding the Manson Family, who purportedly made a snuff film. Therefore it’s no surprise that the first quasi-mainstream film to exploit whispers about snuff films was inspired by the Manson Family’s gruesome murder spree. In 1971, low-budget filmmakers Michael and Robert Findlay made a schlocky flick called Slaughter, in which a cult leader compels his sexy followers to invade a private estate and kill the occupants. Also woven into the Slaughter storyline are soap-opera elements involving a beautiful but lazy movie actress, her overbearing producer, and other unpleasant characters. The Findlays cut corners in every aspect of filmmaking, so the acting is atrocious, the storyline is virtually nonexistent, and the soundtrack was obviously (and poorly) created during post-production, meaning that nearly every line of dialogue is sloppily lip-synched. The Findlays’ endeavor was so disappointing that their distributor shelved Slaughter until someone had the idea to tack an even more sensationalistic ending onto the footage, and to imply through advertising that the newly rechristened Snuff contains documentary footage of a killing. While the story behind the making of Snuff is interesting, the movie is unwatchable. The bulk of the picture, comprising Slaughter footage, is boring and incoherent and sleazy. And the new scene at the end feels like an excerpt from one of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ pointless gorefests—through the use of plainly fake FX, a woman is cut, dismembered, and disemboweled until she dies.


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