Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Do Snuff Films exist?: Beginner's Research


Do snuff films exist? Or are we being duped by an urban legend told by your weird neighbour who live's in his mum's basement until he's 40? For the past year I have been slowly working on an article on whether these films exist or not. While I know I may never get a conclusive answer the subject matter alone intrigues me. Do I want snuff films to exist? NO! But would I be surprised if they did? Not at all. Why? Because I don't trust human nature. As time passes we are becoming more evolved and with time we learn from our mistakes. And I partially believe that if snuff films do exist these people making them and distributing them definitely do not want to make any mistakes in being caught. The subject matter alone is alluring. Part of me wants to know if this is more than just an Urban Legend but at the same time, I feel if there was conclusive evidence that they do exist then knowing the answer will obviously take away that 'mysticism'.

As a horror buff, I am a huge fan of practical FX in films, and respect how authentic they look, but what if you watched something that looked just a little too real? That happened when actor Charlie Sheen saw the film Guinea Pig 2: The Flower of Flesh and Blood and contacted the FBI. If you love gore and practical FX, I definitely recommend it. Sure the film is very full on however, it definitely paved the way for the next generation of gore. I have been desensitized to violence from a young age, but as I got into my late teens I needed something with a bit more of an edge to it. I discovered the August Underground series; again this was something that at one point was considered 'real'. It wasn't. But even still the violence was definitely amped up, and the low budget slapped with a grimy texture,gave me something that I was looking for at the time. I really enjoyed these films, but I found I was enjoying them just that little too much, and from then on I started to think about how far some people would go to not just entertain but also getting their own gratification from this. As soon as those thoughts started circulating in my mind constantly, that allowed me to step back from these kinda of films and I could cut myself off emotionally and just see them as visuals and that's it. I believe that was probably the safest option for me, because who know's what else I could be into by now?

You can view all different levels and kinds of violence, but I think you have a reason to watch those different levels too. Sometimes it's just to shut your mind off, sometimes you love nothing better than seeing a villain getting their karma, or further up on the scale, it gets you off. Yes that's exactly what I mean. I don't just mean degrading sexual acts against another person, I literally mean seeing someone being flayed can turn you on. I know that is an extreme example, but hey I am not exactly subtle. Some people will agree with me, and people won't. And for the people who don't let me try to explain my point. We live in a world of serial killers, prolific ones at that, who can also be narcissists. I believe in their eyes the crime isn't about the victim, it's about them and their needs; What can they get from hurting someone so violently? Gratification. It's a thrill, a buzz, a need. And believe it or not, we ALL have needs, we all crave that thrill, however majority of folks tend to channel that idea into something a lot more positive; and we never cross THAT line. But the minority do cross that line, and if people can hurt someone violently, then who's to say it's not caught on camera, and then distributed to the rest of the minority out there?

After writing a couple of articles on Cannibal Holocaust, Video Nasties and I Spit on Your Grave, I became fascinated with the notion that the general public actually thought cinematic distributed films were snuff films. That actually makes me laugh a little. If you really think about it, it even sounds somewhat backwards. You have a film being distributed to mainstream cinemas, as well as independents, which have credits to everyone who worked on the film. These people who have created a piece of cinema are not going to kill people on screen and put their careers in jeopardy, and likely be jailed for life for one movie. The idea is absurd, but the world was in a state of moral panic in the 70s and 80s. Exploitation and Mondo cinema were on the rise, you had films which depicted very graphic and at times very realistic looking acts of depravity and the term serial killer was used at an all time high, especially in the US. It was some of these elements which had already drilled into people's minds that everyone that watches a horror film is going to be a serial killer or rapist. The general public had definitely made their mind up about that. In the UK the film classification board were banning films as fast as they could catch actual criminals. I guess they had to look like they doing something, right? Films were being banned purely on the basis of the cover, and video stores were seized. It makes you wonder why films were being smuggled from other places in Europe and brought into the UK, and then an underground movement was being started. Fanzine's were started for VHS collectors, which specialised in swapping films with other collectors, which were banned. Sure some people were caught doing this, and their homes were raided, and VHS were confiscated and usually destroyed in an incinerator.

It's established that more violent and obscene films were being brought in from Europe; that has been proven. Now this where we level up. A film which depicted bestiality was smuggled from Europe into the UK, that film was called Animal Farm. In case you are wondering bestiality is a form of pornographic material which includes sexual acts performed with animals. Porn has always been smuggled into different corners of the globe, but the fact that something on a much perverted level found an audience which probably sickened most, you can guarantee a small portion found it arousing. They say different strokes for different folks, but you have to wonder where do you draw that line?

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