Monday, September 6, 2010
We often hear the term “snuff films” being bantered about like some shameful secret no one in the family wants to talk about. Although the term gives us chills, the consideration of it being a reality is even more chilling. Were films made of people’s actual deaths for viewing pleasure?
The excellent 1960 film “Peeping Tom” really gave people a taste of the concept. In the movie, a filmmaker is also a killer and enjoys filming his victims as they die. A movie in the mid 70s entitled “Snuff” touted itself in publicity as being a movie with actual murder in it. Many movies since have used this concept of people filming actual murders. As well, the Internet has propagated even more movies based on Internet killers who film for their audience.
Although some murderers have filmed their killings, those were not for public consumption but for their own sick pleasure. The Zapruder film of Kennedy’s shooting was considered by some to be a snuff film. It was not staged for the purpose of filming, however, so not a true snuff film.
I remember as an adolescent hearing of snuff films in a hushed conversation inside of a rickety tree fort on a drizzly cold day. I shivered under my blanket and listened as an older friend told of these films being distributed in back alleys for the right price. It sickened me and fascinated me at the same time. This friend whispered that her brother’s friend had one and they were going to watch it on Friday night and maybe we could sneak and watch through the window.
We never met up and peeked through his window. I did wonder about these films supposedly passing hands and being watched to titillate young men. It seemed like such a dark and horrible ritual that for a time I was kind of uncomfortable around adolescent boys, which might explain why I always had crushes on older guys.
Even knowing it’s an urban legend, the concept still terrifies. It's kind of like zombies; they don’t exist, but I can imagine if they did just how freaking grizzly that would be.