Snuff (1976) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1976|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||
Liliana Fernández Blanco
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Shortly after midnight on August 9, 1969 Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Linda Kasabian and Charles “Tex” Watson, all under the influence of Charles Manson’s charismatic charge, entered the Tate mansion at 10050 Cielo Drive, Bel Air and slaughtered the occupants.
Four victims, including Sharon Tate, the wife of Director Roman Polanski, were stabbed over 100 times. Later that night, two more victims Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary were found dead from multiple knife and fork wounds. Over the following months, the perpetrators were arrested and their twisted motive to start a racial war was revealed.
In 1971, while America still reeled in shock, two exploitation film-makers, Michael and Roberta Findlay shot a Manson-inspired movie in Argentina called Slaughter to cash in on the bizarre cult slayings. After playing a disastrous run at a few theatres, the film slipped into obscurity, presumably never to see the light of day again.
However, five years later, the Findlays’ enterprising producer and film distributor Allan Shackleton was fascinated by rumours about a type of underground film called “Snuff”, in which actors were supposedly killed on camera. He then hit on the idea to insert new footage at the end of the film, re-title it Snuff and then release it to an unwary public. To promote the “new” film, Shackleton went on a shrewd marketing campaign to suggest that Snuff was indeed the real thing. He even went as far as hiring a group of feminists to picket the film when it played in New York.
Although it made a modest profit and even had high-profile media spokespeople convinced it was real (presumably few of them had actually seen it) it wasn’t until the film hit the video shelves that its reputation took off. Presented in a plain cover and without any credits, video tape seemed the ideal medium through which such a film could exist. It subsequently went on to make a small fortune for the distributors.
The film opens with two hot chicks riding a motorbike to the strains of what sounds like a re-working of Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf. This is followed by the girls shooting and tying up another female (Anna), who scored some good drugs and decided not to share. Enter the Mansonesque-type cult leader Satan (pronounced say-tarn) cutting the feet of the splayed-out Anna with a knife…and the film just spirals out of control from here.
The carefree “plot” continues and involves an actress, Terry London, whose husband is supposed to have sex with one of Satan’s girls, Veronica, so she can give birth to the antichrist. But it all goes horribly wrong when Veronica (who is now played by somebody else!) becomes the victim of a “snuff” film after the crew finish shooting a scene re-enacting the Tate/La Bianca murders?!
Whilst the film is appallingly acted, choppily edited, effects badly executed and the narrative makes no sense at all, it’s this ineptitude along with its exploitation history that gives it a strange allure.
Following the success of Snuff, Michael and Roberta Findlay sued Allan Shackleton for unauthorized use of their film. They later settled the matter out of court. Then, ironically, just before the death of her husband Michael (who was decapitated in a freak helicopter accident in New York on 16 May 1977), Roberta shacked up with Shackleton, who helped her to produce a series of porn films for the Grindhouse circuit.
The transfer is presented full-frame and is not 16x9 enhanced. Considering the age and relative obscurity of the film, overall this a surprisingly decent transfer.
While the stock footage from the Brazilian Mardi Gras (29:10) is quite murky, much of the film has only a light to medium veneer of grain running through the print. Film artefacts like fine line scratches, spots and speckling crop up intermittently reminding the viewer they are indeed watching an old, very low-budget film.
Blacks are generally deep with contrast levels remaining fairly consistent throughout. Shadow detail clarity is acceptably sharp, but at times images became fuzzy and indistinct, most notable during the black and white sequence at 47:11.
Noise reduction is a concern every now and again, such as at 42:50, where a chair, painting and other furniture appears to move when they should be static.
Although looking slightly washed-out at times, for the most part colours are reasonably bright and vivid.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix is more than adequate for a film of this ilk.
The rather groovy, but sleazy bongo drums, occasional piano meanderings and Doors inspired electronic flourishes pulse out through the front channels with tinny relish. In fact, I had to turn the volume down as I didn’t want my neighbours to think I was watching a porn film.
While the music used throughout the score does set the tone quite well for certain scenes, often the mood is broken when the hammy actors start to speak their lines.
The badly dubbed dialogue --“What are you reading? Words…Words” -- although sounding hollow and stilted, comes through very loud and clear with only a small amount of hiss and distortion detected. Just wait to you hear the atrocious voice used for the young Angelica (58:57).
As expected, the surrounds and subwoofer are silent.
|Surround Channel Use|
Not one drop of blood. A documentary would have been a very welcome inclusion.
None. The film simply starts, then when it finishes, it loops back to the beginning so you can enjoy it all over again.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
The Region 1 version released by Blue Underground is identical to our own, right down to the plain paper bag-type packaging. There’s no back cover blurb and no distributor or cast and crew credits on the slick or the disc itself.
The history of Snuff is much more interesting than the experience of actually watching the film itself. Film culture buffs and those who remember the controversy will certainly want to add this to their collection, but younger viewers will be left scratching their heads in disbelief that anyone could have been fooled by this incredibly shoddy production.
|DVD||Yamaha DVR-S200 (it came free with the plasma), using S-Video output|
|Display||Yamaha 106cm Plasma. Calibrated with Sound & Home Theater Tune Up. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Amplification||get a marshall stack, and crank it up.|
|Speakers||2 x Bose Speakers and 4 NX-S200 Yamaha mini-speakers.|