To make a long story short, in 1971, the notorious New York husband-and-wife team of Michael and Roberta Findlay (responsible for such underground cult items as the Touch of Her Flesh trilogy) made a movie titled The Slaughter in Argentina. It was deemed unreleasable until half a decade later, when some enterprising producer made it a film within a film by tacking on a five-minute scene at the end that suggests the actress actually was murdered by the director, all for the lustful eye of the camera to see.
The producer retitled it Snuff, as in “snuff film,” then the subject of rumors. People believed Snuff‘s epilogue, strangely enough (since it’s so obviously faked), and the controversy it ignited translated to ticket sales.
So what’s Snuff about? Not much! Pretty actress Terry London (Mirtha Massa) jets to Buenos Aires to shoot her latest project. There, she shacks up with spoiled rich kid Horst (Clao Villanueva), whom she met in New York, and gets pregnant.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in town exists a Manson-esque cult of drugged-out ladies who do the murderous biddings of their supposedly charismatic leader (Enrique Larratelli). He just wants to change mankind’s destiny, no big. In order to do this, he must sacrifice a child.
You know how those two threads eventually will cross, but first, the viewer must endure mismatched stock footage of Carnival; toe-curling, tomato-soup gore; and dialogue so half-assed, it qualifies as quarter-assed: “What are you reading?” Horst asks a girlfriend; “Words. Words,” she replies, void of irony or sarcasm.
For all its incompetence — hell, because of all its incompetence — doused across the entirety of the production, Snuff entertained me. Atrociously acted to the point of inadvertent comedy, it’s an awful movie on all levels, yet so earnest on the part of the Findlays that one can find himself glued solely from dropped jaws.
I’m not the only one; Blue Underground’s new Blu-ray includes a seven-minute appreciation by Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. Elsewhere in the extras, one-time FBI agent Bill Kelly recounts his days investigating the purported existence of snuff films, Snuff included. It’s an interesting chat, supplemented by a “Controversy Gallery” of newspaper clippings from the time, whether reviewing the movie or covering its protesters. —Rod Lott
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