Snuff film  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A snuff film, or snuff movie, is a pop culture term for any number of possible definitions regarding a motion picture purporting to depict an actual death.


The first recorded use of the term is in a 1971 book by Ed Sanders, The Family: The Story of Charles Manson's Dune Buggy Attack Battalion, in which it is alleged that the Manson's Family might have been involved in the making of such a film (although none have ever been found).

The metaphorical use of the term snuff to denote killing is derived from a verb for the extinguishing of a candle flame, and can be traced to several decades before Sanders's book; for example in Edgar Rice Burroughs's fifth Tarzan book Tarzan and The Jewels of Opar (1916) while "snuff it", meaning to die, was used repeatedly in the novel A Clockwork Orange (1962).

The concept of a "snuff movie" subsequently reappeared and became more widely known in 1976 in the context of the film Snuff. Originally a horror film designed to cash in on the hysteria of the Manson family murders, the film's distributor tacked on a new ending that allegedly depicts an actual murder. In order to generate buzz the producer wrote angry letters to the New York Times posing as a concerned citizen and hired actors to stand outside and protest against the film. The concept of snuff films was further publicised by the Michael Powell Peeping Tom (1960), the Paul Schrader film Hardcore (1979), the Ruggero Deodato film Cannibal Holocaust (1980), the Arnold Schwarzenegger film Running Man, the Alejandro Amenabar film Tesis (1996), the Anthony Waller film Mute Witness (1994), the Joel Schumacher film 8mm (1999) and was featured in the John Ottman film, Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000), Fred Vogel's film August Underground (2001) and its sequels. Online internet snuff movies came into play in such movies like the Marc Evans film My Little Eye (2002), the Showtime series Dexter and the Rick Rosenthal film Halloween: Resurrection. Most recently the subject has been addressed in the Nimród Antal film Vacancy (2007) and also in the WWE film The Condemned (2007).

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Snuff film" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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