Where Life is Cheap! Snuff Movies and the Evolution of Genre

snuff

In 1991, partygoers were treated to a screening of an odd film from Japan. One man was convinced he’d just witnessed a murder, and he phoned the authorities. That man was Charlie Sheen and the film was Flowers of Flesh and Blood. An FBI investigation led to a misdemeanour charge, and the filmmakers released a making-of detailing how they produced such realistic gore effects. Luckily for Charlie Sheen, society seems to have largely forgotten about his premature whistle blowing, but the notion of snuff persists despite the FBI’s claim that no such thing exists.

Since 1976, the idea of filmed murder for profit has outraged, disgusted, and fascinated audiences. Born from a sleazy marketing campaign, snuff provided traction for feminist and anti-pornography movements, and gave birth to one of our most enduring and contentious urban legends, one that’s transmitted by and through the media. This lecture will discuss the history of snuff movies, tracing its roots through earlier film and theatre genres. Beginning with Slaughter(1971, re-released as Snuff 1976), we will examine the use of snuff as a narrative device in such films as Hardcore(1979), Tesis (1996), 8mm (1999), and find its influence in later found footage and torture porn movies. Other films likely to be mentioned include Great American Snuff Film (2003), Hostel (2005), and The Butcher (2007).

Instructor: Rachel Katz

Rachel Katz writes the blog, Zombots!, and co-hosts TheAvod, a weekly genre podcast. Her work has appeared inParacinema magazine and she’s been a guest on the Natsukashi, Conversations in the Dark, and Horror Roundtable podcasts. Rachel has juried the Beneath the Earth Film Festival and loves telling people about that one time she walked into Liam Neeson

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