Snuff: The whispered genre. Some people maintain that it’s an urban legend, others hold that it’s real. Author Kelly Paquette examines the mystery-shrouded cinema of death.
The Origin and Update
The objective of this paper is to present facts, origin, definitions, and how far we have come as a society to use the term snuff, or snuff film.
With just a little bit of history on the subject; it has been said that the first use of the term was in 1971. According to my research it goes all the way back to the 15th century when the British would use the term “snuff out” which meant to die.
I will also present the terms snuff and snuff film by many different definitions by some reputable sources. Even, contradicting one another at some points. I will also present you with my arguments, quotes, meanings, etc. from many different sources which will all be named either during and or after this is finished.
Now I bring to you my expressional views on the subject and hopefully will let people know what this truly means and that in my belief and research, that snuff does exist and it’s all around the world.
I am going to start with just a few definitions of the word snuff and snuff film found in a few different meanings.
Snuff (verb) to kill, assassinate, destroy, murder (adj) A real (not staged) filmed murder; usually of raping and killing a woman. In some cases it is viewed for sexual arousal.
Snuff (verb) to make extinct, put an end to, kill, execute.
Oxford Dictionary.com (2015)
Snuff (verb) kill or put an end to an abrupt or sudden manner.
The online slang dictionary (1999)
Snuff (verb) to kill, murder, etc.
Now here are a few definitions of Snuff films;
Snuff film: A tape where the planned killing; murder of someone is recorded.
Snuff Film: Slang (noun) a pornographic film that shows and actual murder of one of the performers as the end of a sadistic act.
Snuff film: slang (noun) a movie in a purported genre of movies in which the actor is actually murdered or commits suicide.
Snuff film: Films are routinely made for entertainment purposes in which participants are murdered on camera.
Snuff film: Snuff films were supposed to be an urban legend. And yet, it turns out, now they’re real. Thanks to the internet, peoples’ ability to film and distribute murder to a mass audience has never been easier.
American Heritage Dictionary
Snuff film: A snuff film is a movie in a purported genre of movies in which the actor is usually murdered or commits suicide. It may include a motion picture genre that depicts the actual murder of a person or people without the aid of special effects for the express purpose of financial exploitation but that detail is extraneous so long as it is circulated amongst a jaded few for the purpose of entertainment. Some films records of execution and murders exist, but have not been released for commercial purposes.
The words in italic are due to the misconception of some meanings, and some are untrue and others are a downright lie.
Example: Snuff (verb) to kill, assassinate, destroy, murder (adj) A real (not staged) filmed murder; usually of raping and killing a woman. In some cases it is viewed for sexual arousal.
That couldn’t be further from the truth. I see it says “usually” but that is way to in depth of a definition for a word that could possibly have nothing to do with the rape and kill of a woman at all but just a murder of well anyone.
Example: Snuff film: Snuff films were supposed to be an urban legend. And yet, it turns out, now they’re real. Thanks to the internet, peoples’ ability to film and distribute murder to a mass audience has never been easier.
Since when? Since the internet has taken over our daily lives? So back in the 70’s when the hype of snuff films were rumored, I wonder how people made snuff films. And a mass audience? This has to be one of the most fucked up definitions of a snuff film I’ve come across yet. I left a lot out, I came across like 20 definitions but this isn’t a dictionary so I put the more, let’s say uncommon ones on here.
I think you get the idea, why I am trying to show the audience who reads this, these definitions are false. If I had the option to make a definition for a snuff film it would be this:
Snuff film: (verb) to kill or murder an individual(s) on camera for entertainment and/or for the sake of profit. Money must be exchanged.
My reason for the entertainment is because anyone who shoots a real murder has no emotion so they have to be entertained by it in some way. And the viewer is entertained, not necessarily for sexual reasons. And I 100% believe there has to be an exchange of money because no one would risk their freedom to do this for murder without a high price.
You see in some of these definitions, for “jaded” members, “sexual arousal”, selected few. This is selective wording that you don’t know anything about. How do I know this member is “jaded” or this dude is watching it for “sexual arousal” and so on. There is no way to know that unless you have seen one and there is no way to possibly know for sure how someone is feeling. So I do not think that should even be allowed in any dictionary. I feel bad for people who really want to learn about it and these are the definitions they get.
This is my expressional view of the subject manner at hand. I have done research, I have my own experiences, and I want whoever reads this to truly understand what this means. This word should be just as taboo as it was 30 years ago. It’s not a joke, it should not be socially acceptable, but it is. I think it should be up there with like being in Germany and saying the word Nazi. This is serious and I plan on persuading you to at least think about it. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but maybe change your thinking and I would really like to put the seriousness of the word back in Pandora’s Box where it belongs.
Part 1: It’s in the Horror genre where snuff films originated from
Let’s be clear on one thing, snuff isn’t meant to be for the “next level” or the “next big high.” As I woman who has seen all the self-called snuff films like the Faces of Death and The Traces of Death, at 13 I thought I’d seen it all. Anonymous from Cinephile/Video store owner from Snuff: A Documentary about Killing on Camera said it really well when he was talking about that was the film to see when you were a kid. Along with R.P. Whalen he was very passionate about how important these films were to the genre back during Generation X. It gave you bragging rights and you really were that bad ass for seeing them.
One thing people don’t take into consideration is why it’s such an important sub-genre to the horror genre. Well back from the 1920’s until now, horror films have always been out to shock and top the other.
In the 1920’s you had your Frankenstein, Dracula (a love story at that time) and The Black Cat.
By the 1930’s it had already topped those films with The Invisible Man, and Lon Chaney and Boris Karloff came onto screen. You had the Wolfman with back then some crazy special effects. Cat People and The Leopard Man where a girl literally gets mulled and under the door to her house you see a lot of blood. That was very shocking for the 30’s.
The 1940’s introduced Roger Corman and Film Noir. This decade was about the atomic bombs and bug films that had crazy awesome special effects. You had a lot of creature features.
The 1950’s had more bug movies but was well known for the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers. A favorite of mine, nothing more fearful than your fellow man. This movie was quite terrifying at that time.
Aaahhhhh the wonderful 1960’s. This will be the year that goes from a 1 to a 10 as far as more shocking and disturbing goes. This is the decade that introduces Barbara Steele, Mario Bava, Alfred Hitchcock, Vincent Price and Bette Davis.
I believe 1960 was when Bava’s Black Sunday came out with Barbara Steele and was quite scary and one of a kind at the time. William Castle was huge and he was super smart with all those wonderful taglines you still see in the movies even today. Herschel Gordon Lewis decided to take it up about 9 notches for the 1964 feature, Blood Feast. Super graphic and nothing like it. Very taboo and yet there was an audience for it.
But Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho from 1961 was the holy grail of the 60’s. It was a whole new kind of horror. And it was terrifying.
This is where filmmakers were starting to top each other and there was always another director around the corner ready to beat you, like the directors of the Mondo Cane films. Now I own these and they didn’t do anything for me, even as a narrative film, but I can’t imagine the protest for these films at that time. These films however are real but culturally, kind of like something you would see on the Discovery Channel. Then you also had the disturbing treat of Rosemary’s Baby by the man of wonder, Roman Polanski. Another opening for a new breed of horror that will leak into the 70’s.
Some people think it’s important to mention that this was during the Vietnam War, the first publicized war on TV. I’ve seen clips of that war and that still haunts me today. I don’t need to repeatedly see horrors of war to understand how horrifying it is. But then again, I’m not there.
Let’s not forget, The Night of the Living Dead by the master of zombie’s, George Romero. It was graphic, it was new, it was scary and it was a 10. The only survivor was black too which back then, that didn’t exist so he broke the barrier of middle class America that is not what you think. At least not anymore.
The 1970’s is where you had a lot of rape/revenge films credit due to Wes Craven, the Death Wish films that were violent but justified. The grittiness and almost all too real looking Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Nothing in the 70’s will top The Exorcist from 1974, and it shouldn’t. We are talking about a film that made people puke at the viewing, go straight to their church, sleep at other people’s house, etc. You can’t beat that and I would give anything to have been there for that.
Jaws, an extremely important film broke wave in 1975 scaring people so much no one went in the water for a long time. One of my favorites Shivers by David Cronenberg came out in the 70’s and had it been just a few years later, you could tie that in with the AIDS epidemic. Movies from the 70’s also introduced Halloween which led the slasher genre right into the 80’s.
The 80’s introduced my favorite film, John Carpenter’s The Thing and at that time, there was NOTHING like it. It was absolutely terrifying.
Then you had the birth of Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger with many sequels to follow that basically stole the entire decade. We also saw a lot of Stephen King adaptations back then. This was also a great decade for vampires with films like The Lost Boys, Fright Night, and Near Dark. And the height of special effects with credit due to Rick Baker, Rob Botin, Dick Miller and KNB effects.
And let’s not forget, Sam Raimi’s film thesis, Evil Dead. That opens a totally different territory on zombies.
Now the 90’s was a good decade for more of the psychological films like Silence of the Lambs and its sequel Hannibal. Candyman, Seven which was a very important film because it shows that the monster is human. Another important film was American Psycho, and Misery. But nothing will ever top the crazy and brilliant film, The Blair Witch Project. It shows homage to a lot of films and it succeeded in numerous ways.
Now into the 2000’s which I think is now probably the most important time for filmmaking and there are so many new filmmakers and independent films that every year, it gets so much darker.
People seem to think we (Americans) get darker with every war. That may be true but what about all the foreign filmmakers? This didn’t affect them? With the exception of Guillermo de Toro who did two movies about the Spanish War, the rest of the foreign market has no bearings.
Takashi Miike is a perfect example of playing with his audience and violating them to their core and then he goes and directs a children’s movie.
First it was Audition. Even I at first watched it for that last 15 minutes to see if I could get through it. It took me a few times but eventually I came to love the film as a whole and the torture is on the side for me. Ichi the Killer never did bother me like it a lot of other people. Yes it’s graphic and violent as hell, but it just didn’t do it. But I do love the film. Now Visitor Q, wow that film is crazy, and one of his lesser known films, and do you know why that is? Because people don’t know just how fucked up the film is. Then he did 13 Assassins and wow, amazing remake but when you see the girl with missing limbs, there was that Miike touch, brilliant.
Gaspar Noe is another one. He is responsible for the highly critized film, Irreversible and the 11, not 9, but 11 minute rape scene. He takes you places in that film that you wish you could take back. He mind fucks you to see how far he can push you but you want to watch because his films are masterpieces. I personally prefer I Stand Alone.
Pascal Laguier with Martyrs, one of the first French films to hit a lot of the American Audience and it is graphic, sad, helpless, and amazing. One of the all-time best films.
Inside, a movie that is violent for the sake of being violent and to have fun when watching it. Beatrice Dalle (Trouble Every Day) is mesmerizing as always, and it’s not meant to be taken seriously although, it can be if you prefer.
Here’s a list of films that are graphic for graphic sake. Not to be taken seriously, and to just sit back and watch a lot of gore and some very fucked up disturbing films. Some are from other decades as well.
Baise-Moi, Aftermath, In a Glass Cage, 120 Days of Sodom, The Ebola Syndrome, The Untold Story, Nekromantik, Philosophy of a Knife, Men Behind the Sun, A Serbian Film, Hatchet 1-3, Cabin Fever, Hostel 1 and 2, and Imprint.
My reason for the film history is to show, how the film industry has always changed throughout the decades. Every decade got more and more graphic, or upsetting, or unwatchable. This is where the snuff industry originates from. It belongs with the horror genre, as it’s so horrific that only people, who can watch the most gruesome of gruesome, would want to see something in the beyond. As for the pornography, that’s my next topic.
Part 2: The origins of snuff films from Pornography
This is where I will admit that I don’t know much about it. Not meaning I don’t watch porn or haven’t seen it but I wasn’t there in the 70’s during the rise of porn and all its glory days.
However, I have seen pretty extreme S&M porn, weird fetish porn like fucking pregnant women, letting them defecate on you, golden showers, 2 girls 1 cup, that Maxcore shit where they suffocate you with their penis and you puke all over their dick. Ewwwww this was not by choice but for research when I had my own magazine at one time.
In the porn industry, if you can think of a fetish, there is one. Never underestimate the power of porn and its audience. So if you can think up of something so degrading and disgusting, you don’t think there is someone out there that enjoys it? That’s where I get confused with Snuff. If your fetish is to watch a 2 year old child be brutalized and mutilated, you think that person is too what, human to want to see Snuff?
There are 2 cases which I will present where Snuff films were found no matter the consequences, they are there and they exist.
The first is Russian child porn ring leader, Dimitri Vladimirovich Kuznetsov who was introduced to me by Mark Rosen from Snuff: A Documentary about Killing on Camera. He was arrested in 2000 in Moscow for “distribution of thousands of sadistic child porn videos and pictures”. They also caught him with 3,000 more videos on their way to Italian clients. The Italian investigator’s say “the material includes footage of children dying during abuse.” It has been rumored that some clients have specifically asked for murders of the children.
“We have seen some very, very nasty stuff involving sadistic abuse of very young children, but actual deaths on film takes it a whole step further. That is very worrying” said one senior customs officer.
So, you have the name, the crime, you can look it up. I’m not about to sit here and write about inhumane monsters that are far too real when if you’re interested, look them up. On that note, he is out of prison due to amnesty and overcrowded prisons in Russia. Wonder what he’s up to now.
This disgusting freak Peter Scully has been accused of repetitive raping of 2 girls, and the murder of a 12 year old girl. He’s even under investigation of raping an 18 month old baby girl. “Peter Scully allegedly ran an international pedophile ring from Mindanao in the Southern Philippines that raped, tortured, and murdered children.”
Customers paid 10,000$ to view torture videos. Videos are under the name, The Destruction of Daisy. He was selling these to customers worldwide at 10,000 a view. It’s in one of those videos where there was an 18 month old baby girl hanged upside down. The demand for this was so sick that six other foreigners started to fund Scully. I cannot read anymore as you will have to look for yourself. But this is current and he is awaiting trial.
Even though there may or may not be snuff films involved, there is however child porn, Marc Dutroux is an interesting read about his crimes and how he got away with it in Belgium due to his connections with the judicial system.
It has been said, that the police have had their hands on real snuff films before and nothing ever came of them. So they aren’t really snuff or people would have been in a lot more trouble. I would retort with, do you know anything about the Russian Mafia? Because they were the ones involved with the ring, the abuse of the children, the housing and staging, etc. It’s all about politics and who is in whose pocket. And if you really think that someone who watches these vile kiddy porn videos is not involved in snuff, you are completely blind. That’s what the mob does, they make things disappear. Even people if need be. They will threaten to kill and viciously rape daughters and sell them, and their wives, and just imagine the notoriety that comes with the discovery of these invasive films. A hero one minute, a dead man the next.
As for Peter Scully, I can’t read enough to follow it. It’s too much; too hard, too sickening and I want to know nothing about it.
This is why I think it’s extremely important to read up on Marc Dutroux and find out how and how long he got away with murdering little girls. It’s a fantastic story and I’m sure ties in with all of this so you get a crisper idea of how easy it is to make things, just go away.
Part 3: “WAR PORN”
I have come to use this term since some people think that war and snuff go together so I call it war porn. I don’t see the coalition between the two. Everyone wants to jump on the snuff train when what we are actually seeing in war right now, is exploitation and war propaganda. I am actually seeing that these people are making snuff films blah blah blah. No, they are not snuff films.
They are not for our entertainment and we aren’t paying for them. You don’t want to take the term snuff seriously, but you do when an enemy threatens us with it? That’s completely senseless. They’re baiting us in and we’re fucking taking it! One does not have one to do with the other in my opinion.
But a different take on War, what about WW2? Surely their experiments were filmed, and subjects died on camera. And the same with Unit 731. Now I know for a fact that Nazism is a fetish and one that is free to roam. America has gone the opposite way with what we stand for. I really have no argument for this except that is bullshit propaganda and when you hear our enemies use the term snuff, don’t bite.
This does bring me to an interesting claim based on some of my research. The Republicans are convinced that snuff films exist and they will be the ones to bring it down. Well, a lot of these clients that pay tens of thousands of dollars are white collar upper class men with a wife and kids. Who the fuck else can afford those films? And who better than to be in on it and to help them get away with it? Per the Marc Dutroux story and cover up
Part 4: The Gore Hounds
Believe it or not, there are sub groups of gore hounds. I am a gore hound but I don’t prefer films like 2001 The August Underground Movies, I prefer 2011 A Serbian Film or 1980 Cannibal Holocaust. Some prefer the 1980’s Guinea Pig films especially Flowers of Flesh and Blood but there again is that sub group. I’m a fan of 1988 The Evil Dead Trap and 2004 Murder Set Pieces. I’ve never seen 1976 Snuff so I have no idea but I’ve seen all the films mentioned and the Faces of Death that started in the 70’s and ran into the 90’s. And all of the Traces of Death. But, there are 2 films that portray snuff to the best when it comes to the word.
1999 8MM with Nicholas Cage is hired by a widow who found a tape of a woman being killed in her husband’s collection and wants to find out if it’s real. So she hires him to find out and the darkness of the story seems to drag you along with him. Terrifying film.
The other is 2005 Master of Horror installment, Cigarette Burns. No the film Le fin Absolut de Monde wasn’t a snuff film per say. The film is by a director that somehow was taken over by the devil and created a film Le fin Absolut de Monde and it was about destroying the audience. Murder, mayhem, chaos. But the brilliant thing is the film really wasn’t about that. It’s about asking yourself that even knowing what you know, would you watch it? Even if it means people will die, you may die, you might murder someone. Would you still watch it? That is what’s so great about the most taboo of taboo.
With that being said, a gore hound is a gore hound we just prefer more or less extreme. I’ve been a genre fan since I was a kid picking out video tapes by the looks of the covers and that’s how I came across a lot of these films. That was over 20 years ago but I think everyone remembers that mom and pop video store. I am from the VHS generation and it will always hold a special place in my heart. But video tapes can be dangerous.
My whole point with the gore hound thing is, no matter how tasteless or revolting something is, I can safely say the gore hounds I know would still never want to see a real snuff film. I to this day have yet to see all the beheadings online and all that and I won’t. I made a choice to not click that link and realize that my life may be forever changed, or not and not entertain it. I chose not to.
This brings me to my next point about gore hounds that are in an entirely different sub group that watched things so extreme, they may really want to see one. My example would be from theverge.com. There are 3 sites I visited (for research only) and here is what I think. First mistake, Goregrish.com and for the following reasons. These have EXTREME videos that I cannot believe they are allowed to show. 1 lunatic 1 icepic and 3 hammers 1 guy aka the Dnepropetrovsk Maniacs, I mean this is ridiculous. To want to watch this and enjoy it does say something else, much darker about you as a human being. Same thing with Rotten.com, and their defense for these websites? Oh so America can know the truth. Well, I don’t need to see people beat to death or animals dying, you can go to a much better website called Bestgore.com where there are pictures that you can click on if you want to, you don’t have to. These fucking suburban white kids with nothing better to do are the ones looking at them and I know that because I used to know some of them. And that my friends, is scary.
Part 5: Search History and putting Snuff away
When I had decided to do this, I couldn’t believe how easily accessed the information was. 10 years ago you put snuff or snuff film in your search engine; you were possibly being watched by the FBI. I’m hearing it on Fox News, online from our enemies at war; my fucking parents know what it is.
It’s been proven that snuff exists, but in the dirtiest, scummiest, vile parts of the underbelly in its genre. Even today, snuff consists of murder, now it seems to be during child porn but its murder on film and that is snuff.
It’s extremely taboo and I think it should go back to the 70’s in Pandora’s Box and remain there. Of course if it’s in the news, absolutely read about it, educate yourself. But this is not something to fuck around with. As Mark Rosen said “they are their own policeman. “And there lays the problem. No one is scared anymore because it has become socially acceptable. I want to make the world, at least the naïve Americans aware that this is real. People are dying for the sake of someone else’s perversions. Stop ripping it apart with all of these redundant meanings and know it is what it is and will never change.
You wanna see a snuff film, I dare ya to take a walk in the bowels of under-under-ground mafia and politicians and the fucking sickest perverts that make those stupid gore sites look like Candy Crush and see where the fuck you end up. This is not a joke, it’s serious and more people need to become aware of how serious it is. It’s not a myth I’ll tell you that but, it exists, you have no idea who you are dealing with, and what you are getting into.
So my conclusion: We need to put snuff and snuff films back where they belong. In that taboo section between hardcore porn and extreme gore. Back in Pandora’s Box and lose the fucking key!
By the way, I know I didn’t mention Cannibal Holocaust and The Guinea Pig films, etc. but I thought you would want to read something different, something fresh. All you ever see when reading about snuff are these 2 films and a couple others and it gets tiresome. So I thought I would treat you to a different breed of snuff. Hope you enjoy! Thanks, K.S. Paquette
Rosen, Marc Snuff: “A Documentary about Killing on Camera”
Whalen, R.P. Snuff: “A Documentary about Killing on Camera”
Burke, Jason “theguardian”
1 October 2000
Status Unknown “The Observer”
Status Unknown “Theverge.com”
13 June 2012
Frenkiel, Olenka “theguardian”
5 May 2002
Mikkelson, Barbara “snopes.com”
31 October 2006
France-Presse, Agence “theguardian”
16 June 2015
Status Unknown “ABC NEWS”
1 June 2015
“The online slang dictionary”
“American Cambridge Dictionary”
“American Heritage Dictionary”