Snuff (1974)

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Cast: Margarita Amuchástegui, Ana Carro, Liliana Fernández Blanco, Clao Villanueva, Roberta & Michael Findlay, Alfredo Iglesias, Enrique Larratelli
Director:  Michael Findlay
Nutshell:  An Urban Legend of a film where audiences actually believed they were witnessing an actual death on screen…a real “Snuff” movie!

 

“No worse than many”Splatter Movies

Ridiculous” – Video Nasties

Dull garbage” – Video Movies Guide

 

Two hard chicks who look like they’ve taken a wrong turn from the Faster Pussycat set are on a motorbike looking rather purposeful and mean while another voluptuous beauty seems totally spaced out on the “good stuff” writhing away in ecstasy in some field nearby.  Two other skanky looking birds smoke up in the park looking to score something better.

Their friends on the bike arrive and demand to know where Anna is accusing her of “holding out on them” regarding the “good stuff’.  When they find Anna, seemingly in a stupor from the caster sugar she has recently injected they rough her up and shoot her and hand her over to the man they call Sataan – who also happens to have a vice like grip and total control over the girls, indeed he is Charles Manson reincarnated.  He proceeds to have her tortured by having the soles of her feet carved up by a sharp knife.  Gory close ups are shown, but never the knife in flesh.  It becomes evident that the Manson clone has his girls psychologically broken and brainwashed into carrying out his every order without the slightest hesitation.  They take mercy on Anna because she always knows how to get the “good stuff” and so she is allowed to live and join the band of girls who exist to serve their crazed master.

Meanwhile a hotshot producer and his girlfriend starlet arrive in city to shoot their movie and check into their luxurious digs.  She doesn’t waste a moment in contacting an old flame in the city with lustful intentions.  The marauding Sataan and his gang of hard chicks tear up the town and anyone who happens to come into their path is mercilessly and brutally dealt with.  Sadistic torture and carving up live bodies with a sharp knife in a drugged-up stupor is the chosen entertainment for Sataan and his girls and any unfortunate soul who crosses their path must pay a very heavy price indeed.  This is basically what happens for the most part of the movie and then of course there is the film shoot for which the starlet and the producer have arrived and that goes smoothly until the two worlds collide with inexplicable results.  The climax of the movie, if it could be called that, is what has made the movies reputation as one of the most notorious films ever released.

The story behind “Snuff” is far more fascinating in comparison to the confused mess that appears on screen.  The film started out as a Grindhouse exploitation trash made by husband and wife team Rachel and Michael Findlay in Argentina in 1971 and is essentially a half ass, lurid and very boring exploitation of the Sharon Tate/LaBianca – Charles Manson murders and was shot as a film titled “Slaughter” but never released as it was so appalling.  After the film died and was relegated to gathering dust and rotting on the shelves it was found by canny Indie movie distributor Allan Shackleton years later and without taking the permission nor informing the original producers of the film, Shackleton proceeded to shoot a gruesome and now legendary new ending and literally skew it bluntly into the film with a specific intention in mind.  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”.  A brilliant idea exploited superbly to the tune of several million dollars as the film went on, over a decade after its initial release as “Slaughter” to enjoy a successful theatrical run as well as a “must see” title on video for a generation of horror hounds thanks to its reputation and subsequent damning and entry on the notorious Video Nasties list.

In the 80’s as home video spread like wildfire an urban legend developed that there were films being made in Latin America “where life was cheap” and they featured actual killings on screen.  Shackleton exploited and fed this media frenzy perfectly with his reworked and retitled version of “Slaughter”, calling it Snuff this time around and adding a 5-minute scene at the end of the movie.  The way the scene has been added to the original film is in a very blunt manner so as to create the impression that it was just an added extra tacked on to the film and is absolutely authentic.  It is supposed to be “reality” and is presented as such even if the ludicrous gore effects are a dead giveaway and the “real death” is actually as fake as they come.

The film ends abruptly, once again an attempt to somehow make it feel “real” and authentic.  Shackleton then hired fake protestors to picket his movie outside cinemas and this was featured on some news stories and worked miracles as the movie’s box office receipts multiplied with added media interest and exposure.  Shackleton’s trick worked and people like this reviewer forked out good money to buy the film on DVD and in continues to draw viewers based on its reputation.  The film perpetuated and urban legend and then grew to actually become that legend and has reaped the benefits monetarily.

This is masterclass exploitation.  To find a worthless film wasting away on the shelves somewhere, jump onto a notion that the public is entranced by…shoot a five-minute scene and jam it into the old movie, change the title and milk it for all its worth to a gullible audience thirsting for sensation.  Shackleton did exactly that and turned his idea into a treasure chest.  The idea was a brilliant one especially considering how utterly lame the film is.  Brilliant exploitation, opportunism, marketing and selling of garbage to a gullible, thirsting audience.  There is much to be learned from this wonderfully canny and clever piece of intuitive business savvy, despite its dubious quality and reputation that was built on a total lie.  After all, the notorious scene that propelled it into the imagination of horror fiends the world over, were palpably fake.  The half star rating is for the sheer genius and opportunism of Allan Shackleton.