- Snuff film
:"For the 2005 film see
Snuff-Movie (film)."A snuff film or snuff movie is a theoretical genre that depicts the death or murderof a person or people without the aid of special effectsfor the purpose of distribution and entertainment.
Problems of definition
As of 2008, neither the
Motion Picture Association of America, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, nor any U.S. law enforcement agency have put forth legislation or terminology that would define the term "snuff film" authoritatively.
Some possible definitions include a number of acts (killing of animals, faked deaths, suicides and murders) which are filmed and only later distributed. In most cases the only motive to risk any exposure of the filmmakers' involvement is commercial. Some definitions state that snuff films must be
pornographicin nature. cite web
url = http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=snuff+film
title = Definition of "snuff film"
accessdate = 2006-11-16
publisher = dictionary.com
However, the most common definition of a snuff film is of a
motion pictureshowing the actual murderof a human being that is produced, perpetrated, and distributed "solely" for the purpose of profit. [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2695085153314436603 Does Snuff Exist?] , " The Dark Side of Porn", Season 2 Episode 4, Channel 4documentary, first aired 18 April 2006] This definition thereby excludes recordings of murders caught by accident, and videotapes of actual murders that were never intended for release, such as the "trophies" of killers such as Leonard Lake. Al Goldstein, publisher of Screw magazine, has offered for many years one million dollars to anyone who presents evidence of an actual snuff film that is commercially released. As of 2008, he has received no claims to this offer.
The first recorded use of the term is in a 1971 book by
Ed Sanders, "The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion", in which it is alleged that The Manson Family might have been involved in the making of such a film (although no film has ever been found).cite web
url = http://www.snopes.com/horrors/madmen/snuff.htm
title = A Pinch of Snuff
accessdate = 2007-04-08
publisher = snopes.com
The metaphorical use of the term "snuff" to denote killing is derived from a verb for the extinguishing of a candle flame, and can be traced to several decades before Sanders's book; for example, in
Edgar Rice Burroughs's fifth Tarzan book "Tarzan and The Jewels of Opar" (1916). [ [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/92 Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar by Edgar Rice Burroughs at the Project Gutenburg] ] "Snuffed it", meaning "dead", was used repeatedly in the novel " A Clockwork Orange" (1962).
The Michael Powell film "Peeping Tom" (1960) featured a killer who filmed his victims, but the concept of a "snuff movie" became more widely known in 1976 in the context of the film "Snuff". Originally a horror film designed to cash in on the hysteria of the Manson family murders, the film's distributor tacked on a new ending that depicted an actress killed on a movie set. Promotion of "Snuff" created the illusion that an actual murder had been captured on film, with the producer writing angry letters of complaint to the "
New York Times" and hiring phony protestors to picket screenings.
In the wake of "Snuff", many movies explored similar themes, including the
Paul Schraderfilm "Hardcore" (1979), the Ruggero Deodatofilm " Cannibal Holocaust" (1980), David Cronenberg's " Videodrome" (1983), the Arnold Schwarzeneggerfilm "The Running Man" (1987), the Nine Inch Nailsfilm "The Broken Movie" (1993) the film (1986), the Alejandro Amenabarfilm " Tesis" (1996), the film "Strange Days" (1995), the Anthony Wallerfilm " Mute Witness" (1994), the Joel Schumacherfilm "8mm" (1999) and was featured in the John Ottmanfilm, "" (2000), Fred Vogel's film " August Underground" (2001) and its sequels.
Online internet snuff movies came into play in such movies like the
Marc Evansfilm " My Little Eye" (2002), the Showtimeseries "Dexter" and the Rick Rosenthalfilm "". Most recently the subject has been addressed in British film director Bernard Rose's film "Snuff-Movie" (2005), the Nimród Antalfilm "Vacancy" (2007) and also in the WWE film " The Condemned" (2007) and the Gregory Hoblitfilm " Untraceable".
Some murderers have in various instances recorded their acts on video; however, the resultant footage is not usually considered to be a snuff film because it is not made for the express purpose of distribution. In the early 1980s,
Charles Ngand Leonard Lakevideotaped their torturing of women they would later kill. Serial killers Paul Bernardoand Karla Homolkavideotaped some of their sex crimes in the early 1990s. Though their crimes ended in murder, the actual murders were not videotaped. Only a select few people have ever seen this footage, as viewing was restricted to lawyers and other courtroom personnel. The footage has since reportedly been destroyed. Another example is the video taken in 2001 by the German Armin Meiwesof the killing of Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes. In 1995 the documentary film 'Executions' showed the actual executions of various people condemned to death by capital punishment dying by one means or another.
In 1997, the Germans Ernst Dieter Korzen and Stefan Michael Mahn kidnapped a prostitute and recorded her torture, with the purpose of selling a snuff movie. The woman died before the movie could be completed, and they kidnapped another prostitute, who was able to flee and alert authorities. The two men were sentenced to life imprisonment. Prosecutors involved in the case claimed there is an international market for such videos. [cite news
last = Frew
first = Callum
title = Perverts murdered woman for snuff movie
work = The Daily Record
url = http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-60425776.html
accessdate = 2008-06-17Perverts Murdered Woman for Snuff Movie, "
Daily Record", 13 April 1999]
There is undoubtedly a widespread market for genuine footage of murderous violence, whatever the context: as early as the 1940s,
Weegeefound fame for his photographs of victims of street crime in New York City. In later decades, the American public was fascinated by the Zapruder filmof the assassination of John F. Kennedy; the Zapruder film has since been featured in Oliver Stonefilm "JFK", among other fictional works. Similarly, "", a film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, contains a sequence that depicts an actual execution by firing squad. Earlier still, in 1901 the Edison company released a film of a re-enactment of the execution of Leon Czolgosz, assassin of U.S. President William McKinley.
Faces of Death" film series found popularity in the 1980s on videocassette, and even on broadcast television, shows like " World's Wildest Police Videos" have been successful (though for broadcast television, more gruesome footage is usually censored).
In the Internet age, it is possible to download videos depicting actual murders or deaths (e.g. the filmed deaths of
Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, Saddam Hussein, Paul Johnson, Kim Sun-il, Eugene Armstrong, Jack Hensley, Kenneth Bigleyand a Russian sergeant, the shooting of Yitzhak Rabinand the gun suicides of Ricardo Cerna, and Budd Dwyer).
Shortly after the declaration of Chechen independence in 1991 and culminating during the Chechen-Russian Wars, snuff video market emerged openly in the then-lawless Chechen Republic. Videos depicting murders, torture, rape and dismemberment of Russian POWs, and captives from Russia, foreign countries and neighboring republics were freely circulated in Chechnya and, in several instances, aired on Russian State Television in the edited version. A fair number of these are still available on peer-to-peer networks, including recent video of the brutal beating and murder of Russian police squad by Chechen militia and civilians, and the execution of a Russian dweller, seized in the streets of the old Chechen capital
Gudermesby a group of armed men [ [http://youtube.com/watch?v=AwMM5WloZQA YouTube - Chechen rebels and their propaganda part 4 ] ] .
Recently videos depicting suicide bombings and attacks on U.S. military in Iraq have been posted on video sharing website
YouTubeby extremist groups, which has become an increasingly difficult problem for the U.S. as replacement videos can be uploaded just as quickly as they are taken down. [ [http://articles.news.aol.com/news/_a/experts-say-terror-groups-turning-to/20070212063609990002 Page Not Available - AOL News ] ]
Perhaps the most famous instance of an alleged recorded death is the scene in "The Crow" in which lead
Brandon Leewas accidentally shot. Urban legend claims that the footage of his fatal wounding was included in the final cut of the film. However, after police review, that portion of film was actually destroyed, and the scene was re-created with a body double.
However, it is not clear that the fascination engendered by these records would extend to filmed murders carried out expressly for the purpose of filming a murder (actual snuff films). Since it is trivially easy today to produce a film that simulates a murder in a completely believable way, there is little commercial incentive to risk the legal repercussions of producing a film in which a murder is actually committed (much less documented on film).
In August 2007 a video was originally posted on the Russian version of
LiveJournalby a user named "anti-Gypsy", which subsequently appeared on many Russian-language neo-Nazi internet sites. The video is titled “The Execution of a Tajik and a Dagestani". Reportedly a video of Russian neo-Nazis executing two men, one from Dagestan and one from Tajikistan. A spokesman for the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor’s Office said the murder footage was genuine [ [http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/25794 RussiaToday : News : Internet execution video was real: prosecutors ] ]
False snuff films
The Guinea Pig films
The first two films in the Japanese "Guinea Pig" series are designed to look like authentic snuff films; the video is grainy and unsteady, as if recorded by amateurs. In the late 1980s, the Guinea Pig films were one of the inspirations for Japanese serial killer
Tsutomu Miyazaki's murders of preschool girls.cite web
url = http://www.crimelibrary.com/criminal_mind/psychology/movies_made_me_kill/11.html
title = Serial killer inspired by Guinea Pig films
accessdate = 2008-06-17
publisher = guineapigfilms.com
The most infamous Guinea Pig film is probably "
Flower of Flesh and Blood", in which a woman is drugged, then chained to a bed as a man in a samuraicostume slowly kills her through tortureand dismemberment. After viewing a portion of this film, actor Charlie Sheenwas convinced the murder depicted was genuine and contacted the MPAA, who then contacted the FBI.cite web
url = http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000221/bio
title = Biography of Charlie Sheen
accessdate = 2007-05-31
publisher = imdb.comFBI agent Dan Codling informed them that the FBI and the Japanese authorities were already investigating the film makers, who were forced to prove that the murders were indeed fake.cite web
url = http://www.guineapigfilms.com/History.html
title = History page
accessdate = 2006-11-16
publisher = guineapigfilms.com
While the actual Guinea Pig movies are not snuff films themselves, two of them purport to be based on real snuff films. "The Devil's Experiment" was supposedly based on a film sent to the Tokyo police in which a small group of people dismember a young woman in an attempt to see how much damage the body can take. "Flower of Flesh and Blood" was supposedly made after manga artist,
Hideshi Hino, received a letter, 54 stills, and an 8 mm filmthrough the mail. The letter described what was on the film. He watched it and shortly after turned it over to the Tokyo police, who could not identify either the girl or the murderer.
Other alleged snuff films
Ruggero Deodatowas once called before a court in order to prove that the murders of humans depicted in his film " Cannibal Holocaust" had been faked.
Boston Herald" newspaper published an article on the subject of such murder films being shown in the Boston area, while articles on the Channel 1 computer bulletin board news groups alluded to such films and claimed they were made in New York City.Fact|date=July 2008
In 2000 an Italian
policeoperation broke up a gang of child pornographers based in Russiawho, it was claimed, were also offering snuff films for sale to their clients in Italy, Germany, The U.S. and U.K. It is unclear whether anything other than child pornography films were ever seized. [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,375883,00.html UK arrest of Kuznetsov] ]
Snuff films have occasionally inspired fictional works (such as Michael Powell's 1960 film "Peeping Tom"). As noted above, there was a wave of such films in the mid-to-late 1970s, and the mid-to-late 1990s saw another cycle of snuff film-inspired motion pictures. "
The Great American Snuff Film" tries to take the viewer inside the mind of a killer who seeks revenge for his abusive foster home upbringing, by kidnapping two girls to make a snuff film. " Mute Witness" ( 1994) depicts the eponymous heroine's discovery of a snuff film in progress. "Strange Days" ( 1995) revolves around several snuff films involving murders of prostitutes and high-profile African American civil rights heroes. The Spanish horror movie " Tesis" ( 1996) revolves around a student discovering a library of snuff films hidden in a room beneath her college. "8mm" ( 1999) is a similar movie about a private investigator hired by a widow to determine if the film her husband kept hidden in a safe is a real snuff film. "Hardcore" ( 1979) showed George C. Scottwatching a snuff film to find his runaway daughter. " My Little Eye", a 2002 Marc Evanshorror film depicts the story of several teenagers in a Big Brother style house who end up being part of an elaborate live snuff movie. Similar to this is "" which features several deaths occurring on web cameras. " FeardotCom" and most recently " Untraceable" revolve around victims who are slowly tortured to death live on the internet. " The Brave" ( 1997) tells the story of a man who agrees to be in a snuff film in return for $50,000 to help his poverty-stricken family. Polish movie "Billboard" ( 1998) is a story of an ad agency worker who discovers a snuff tape apparently recorded on the set where he works. Most recently, the film Vacancy concerns a couple who discover a motel room is the site of a series of snuff movies. A more post-modern take on illusion, reality and sexploitation in this genre is taken in British film director Bernard Rose's 2005 film "Snuff-Movie".
The premise of snuff films was also used as a theme in the
Rockstar North video game"Manhunt", which revolved around a convict named James Earl Cash, whose death is staged on live television at the order of a mysterious director in order for him to star in a series of cat and mouse-style snuff films.
Snuff films which reveal the existence of
vampiresappear as plot devices in the video game and the anime Hellsing.
*David Kerekes and David Slater. "Killing for Culture: Death Film from Mondo to Snuff (Creation Cinema Collection)". London: Creation Books, 1996.
* [http://www.snopes2.com/horrors/madmen/snuff.htm Snopes Urban Legend Reference Pages article on 'Snuff films']
* [http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-2695085153314436603&q=snuff+duration%3Along The Dark Side of Porn: "Does Snuff Exist?": 'British Documentary on Snuff Films']
* [http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_258.html "The Straight Dope": "Is there such a thing as a snuff film?"]
* [http://www.channel4.com/film/reviews/feature.jsp?id=111046 "Snuff Said": 'Mark Kermode on Snuff films']
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