There is a long and storied history behind the Grand Guignol exploitation sickie known as Snuff.
In actuality, this 1976 grindhouse favorite is cut from a finished film known as Slaughter, shot cheaply in South America by Michael and Roberta Findlay. The Findlays were a husband and wife film making couple who specialized in cheap, violent sex films-known as "roughies" in their day-during the late sixties and early seventies, before graduating into even cheaper horror flicks during the 80s video heyday.
Slaughter itself was a rambling and psychedelic riff on the Tate-LaBianca murders at Spahn Ranch by the Charles Manson family, shot on the fly in Buenos Aires with an amateur cast and crew. The film follows the antisocial exploits of a Manson-esque figure known as "Satan" and his gang of mini-skirt wearin', hot pant sportin' drug delinquents as they stalk a B-movie actress, her husband and lover. The Findlays later sold this familiar tale of Slaughter to notorious New York City film distributor Alan Shackleton, who-knowing that the atmospheric but crudely finished film would prove a hard sell on 42nd St. grindhouses-came up with the brilliant marketing idea of shooting a new ending which would capitalize upon the then-buzzing urban rumors of "snuff films," real life murders captured on film.
This ten minute tag-on sequence would be shot in a rented New York City loft-on loan from fellow city exploitation and sex film director Carter Stevens-by an uncredited Simon Nuchturn; and portrayed what was supposed to be the crew's filmed murder of their lead female star. The sequence was shot with similarly crude special effects, but with a moody sense of deliberate seriousness which assisted in lifting Snuff to the forefront of an outraged New York City public.
News and T.V. reports would soon follow of this bloody and reprehensible underground film called Snuff, and how this celluloid murder would soon make its debut on city streets and screens, and it wasn't long before protests and nationwide coverage of the film would turn the film into one of the most profitably cheap films of the grindhouse era.
Blue Underground had previously released Snuff on a bare bones, replaying DVD format which was meant to mimic the playback of a bootleg VHS tape, but the film makes its Blu-Ray debut here with a bevy of extras to shine a light upon this film's long and fascinating history. The picture and sound is moderately improved-with the requisite grime and grit a film such as this should retain-yet the interview and introduction from Drive and Bronson director Nicolas Winding Refn serves as one of the most interesting aspects of this release. Refn expresses his admiration for the artistic, "New Wave" qualities of Findlay's original Slaughter and how the film has influenced his own, admittedly "fetish" style of film making, proving that inspiration can indeed arrive from the most unlikely of sources.
Snuff also features an interview with the aforementioned Carter Stevens, who does a great job at capsulizing the film's creation and impact over the years, as well as a vintage chat with retired FBI agent Bill Kelly, whose job it was to track down real, reported "snuff films" during his law enforcement career. Controversy galleries, on screen liner notes and the film's original U.S. and German trailers round out what is clearly the most expansive package ever for a cult film whose notorious reputation refuses to die.
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