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Snuff Films, Convictions & The Truth Behind The Myth




snuff movies cannibal holocaust

What is a Snuff Movie? This word has acquired a long list of meanings during the film era but more commonly this is its definition.

A snuff film is a genre or video that claims to show scenes of actual homicide.

Most of the articles you’ll find out there will explain how snuff films are allegedly based on sensational claims that are generally impossible to prove. For this reason, snuff movies are supposedly non-existent.

snuff films scene

A snuff films scene

In this article we will dig deeper, showing that Snuff films are out there and that there is plenty of proof of their existence.

A Little Bit Of History  

The first known use of the term snuff movie is in a 1971 book by Ed Sanders, The Family: The Story of Charles Manson’s Dune Buggy Attack Battalion. Sanders alleges that the Manson Family was involved in making such a film in California to record their murders. This has never been proven.

The noun snuff stood for the part of a candlewick that has already burned; the verb snuff meant to cut off, and by extension to extinguish or kill.

This word has been used in English slang for hundreds of years. It was defined in 1874 as a “term very common among the lower orders of London, meaning to die from disease or accident.”

Boaz Hagin Different Theory

Professor Boaz Hagin argues that the concept of snuff films originated decades earlier than commonly believed – at least as early as 1907. During that year, Polish-French writer Guillaume Apollinaire released the short story “A Good Film” about a photojournalists who stage and later filmed a murder due to public fascination with crime news. The public believed that the murder was real, but police later determined that the crime was fake. Hagin also think that the movie ‘Network’ (1976) contained an explicit but fake snuff film depiction when television news representatives organized the on-air murder of a news anchor to improve ratings.

Geoffrey O’Brien Controversial Theory

Film critic Geoffrey O’Brien thinks that, “whether or not commercially distributed snuff’ movies actually exist, the possibility of such movies is implicit in the stock B-movie motif of the mad artist killing his models, as in A Bucket of Blood (1959), Color Me Blood Red (1965), or Decoy for Terror (1967) also known as Playgirl Killer.”

Snuff (1976)

Snuff 1976

The idea of snuff movies being made for profit became more widely known after the release of the movie Snuff (1976). In this low-budget horror film the audience was led to believe, through marketing and print advertisement, that the actual movie was a real snuff in which we see the murder of an actress. After investigations on the matter, it was discovered that the movie was a fake and the director exploited the rising phenomenon of snuff to increase the movie sales and popularity. This also contributed to the expansion of this eerie phenomenon in the pop culture.

Fake Snuff Films

Before digging in the controversial part of this article in which I will show using supporting evidence and facts how this phenomenon is unfortunately very distant to be just a fake and a fictional way of storytelling, I will explore the fictional (fake) films that were made using this grotesque technique.

Cannibal Holocaust

Cannibal Holocaust

A scene from Cannibal Holocaust.

In Cannibal Holocaust we follow a troupe as they explore the culture of tribes abroad, who later became the target of enhanced violence and sadism.

Italian director, Ruggero Deodato, was investigated after rumors that the killing of the main actors in the film were real. He was able to clear his position after the alleged dead actor made an appearance in court. Several scenes of sexual violence, gore, and the real deaths of six animals found Cannibal Holocaust to be the most controversial fake snuff film ever created. To this day some controversies remain and in 2006, Entertainment Weekly magazine named the film as the 20th most controversial film of all-time.

The Guinea Pig Films

The Guinea Pig

A scene from The Guinea Pig Flower of flesh and blood

The first two movies in the Japanese Guinea Pig series are created to resemble snuff movies. The quality of the footage is grainy and unsteady, as if recorded by amateurs, and special effects are used to emulate these features as internal organs and graphic wounds. The sixth installment, Mermaid in a Manhole, allegedly served as an inspiration for Japanese serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki, who killed several preschool girls in the late 1980s.

In 1991, actor Charlie Sheen started to believe that Flower of Flesh and Blood (1985), the second film in the franchise, was an actual homicide and contacted the FBI. The investigation was soon closed after producers released a piece of content called “making of” film, demonstrating the special effects used to simulate the murders.

Down in It

Alleged Murder of Trent Reznor

The Alleged Murder of Trent Reznor

In September 1989, while filming the music video “Down in It” by Nine Inch Nails in Chicago, Trent Reznor acted in a scene which ended with the implication that Reznor’s character had fallen off a building and died.

To film the scene, a camera was tied to a balloon with ropes attached to prevent it from flying away. Minutes after they started filming, the ropes snapped and the balloons and camera flew away; after traveling over 200 miles, the contraption landed on a farmer’s field in Michigan. The farmer later handed it to the FBI, who began investigating whether the footage was a snuff film portraying a person committing suicide.

The FBI identified Reznor and the investigation ended when Reznor’s manager proved that he was alive and the footage was not related to any crime.

August Underground Trilogy

August Underground Trilogy

A Scene From August Underground Trilogy

This trilogy of movies portrays allegedly amateur footage made by a serial killer and his friends which depicts gore, sex, torture and murders.

The initial release of these films happened on the darknet to try and give the impression that the footage was real.

The Truth That Nobody Wants To Talk About


A scene from the film 8mm with Nicolas Cage.

Lots of different movies talk about snuff footage. Between my favorites lie Vacancy and 8mm. In the first we follow a married couple as they discover that inside a motel in the mountains, real snuff movies are created at expense of customers. In the second, we follow a detective (Nicolas Cage) as he tries to uncover who created a snuff movie in which a young woman is killed.

These faves left me with a question: How can we be really sure that these sick films don’t really exist? Simple answer: we do not!

The internet is full of articles that explain how the snuff movie phenomenon is simply a hoax. One that particularly piqued my interest was an article by the website Fangoria. In the article Alyse Wax comes to the conclusion that:

“Ultimately, snuff films are like the “Satanic panic” of the 1980s. They terrify and disgust people, but no evidence of their existence has been found. Death on film absolutely exists: news footage of war zones, propaganda videos, accidents. But an underground industry with people being murdered for the amusement of others? Not a chance.”

Wax is only stating what he or she thinks is a fact: since we don’t have the facts nor the proof (not true) that real snuff films exist, and because other supposedly authentic films turned out to be fake we can certainly say without doubt that they don’t exist. To me, this is debatable. It’s like saying: ‘Since we never discovered life on other planets and since our expeditions have been inconclusive, we can say without a doubt that extraterrestrials don’t exist.’

Maybe Fangoria and other websites forget about real life murders such as the killing of Georgia Williams, the case of the 3 children beaten to death and then cut up as a part of a snuff movie, the Luca Magnotta murder, the real-life snuff film victim Kim Wall and the countless leads of gruesome murders available in the darkweb everyday. Perhaps they didn’t want to frighten people. Unfortunately, facts point us toward the existence of real snuff movies but let’s examine these leads a little more closely.

The Killing Of Georgia Wiliams 

Georgia Williams Murder Snuff Film

A picture of victim Georgia Williams.

To report this tragic story I will quote some lines from the Sun article.

This was released by investigators:

“GEORGIA Williams was just 17 when she was killed. She died at the hands of a violent predator who hanged her, filmed her final moments, and then had sex with her body.”

Her killer, 23-year-old Jamie Reynolds, was already known by police after he’d strangled another girl at age 17 and they found doctored images of women he knew with nooses around their necks. The attack was treated as an assault and he was given a warning, but if police had dug deeper they would have uncovered Reynolds’ secret obsession: a digital stash of sick “snuff films” – videos of women being badly hurt or murdered. Reynolds had already told therapists that he was turned on by strangulation, and his own stepfather told authorities that the then-teenager had been looking at images of naked women being strangled. Long before he killed Georgia, police also knew that Reynolds had manipulated a series of Facebook photos of girls he knew to show them being hanged – thanks to another tip off from Reynolds’ stepfather.

Violent Jamie Reynolds

Violent Jamie Reynolds lured Georgia to his home and killed her as he filmedCredit: Tim Stewart News

Reynolds’ digital camera was full of photos of Georgia standing on a box with a rope around her neck. Shockingly, this would be the last photo of Georgia before Reynolds kicked the box out from under her and video recorded her final moments. He then stripped her naked and had sex with her body, before loading the corpse into his van and leaving the area. Investigators also found a list with the names of 32 women he knew – all possible targets – and a series of stories he’d written about killing girls, which he planned to reenact.

Jamie Reynolds

Jamie Reynolds told Georgia he needed help with a photography project

Since his early teens, Reynolds had been obsessed with snuff films, and had a library of over 16,000 photos of women being hurt or killed.

This tragic story easily explains how the negligence we have on serious matters could have terrible consequences. Reynolds was sick and was finally convicted. But if police and others had taken seriously the accusations and the odd behaviors of Reynolds, they could have prevented the death of Georgia. Unfortunately these situations tend to be overlooked and criticized as highly unlikely. But guess what? This is wrong. This can happen. And it does.

3 Children Beaten To Death 

A kid crying in a corner.

“Three children are individually telling us they were taken to a basement of a house where three other children were present,” Lewkowitz said. “The three children were given drugs. A metal pipe was taken to the heads of each of these three children. The blows were of sufficient force to have probably killed the children.”

This case was reported in Sacramento where authorities said three children were drugged, beaten to death with metal pipes, and then cut up as part of a so-called “snuff movie” produced by five men charged in a child molestation case. The suspects, four being workers at a restaurant in suburban Sacramento, engaged in a molestation cult that included satanism, witchcraft and mock wedding ceremonies for children.

Luca Magnotta 

Luca Magnotta

Luka Rocco Magnotta is taken by police from a Canadian military plane to a waiting van on Monday, June 18, 2012 in Mirabel

Luca Magnotta was found guilty of first-degree murder, amongst other crimes, over the killing of Chinese exchange student Jun Lin. Magnotta posted a video of the crime online, stylized with a video editor and set to the sound of New Order’s “True Faith.”

In the video, viewers could clearly see a live-streamed murder. While cases such as this are treated as one-offs, realistically they should be investigated more holistically and with consideration of the snuff obsession. I am certain there are many more of these terrible acts that go unpunished.

Kim Wall

Kim Wall

Kim Wall in the picture.

Peter Madsen murdered journalist Kim Wall onboard his home-built submarine and then dismembered her body and dumped it in the sea. Parts of Kim were found in intervals during a massive search by the Danish police. Madsen was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. It’s only now, after a highly-rated miniseries called The Investigation was released, that the motive has  surfaced. It appears Peter Madsen made a snuff film using Kim Wall as the star.


Snuff Movie 2005

A still from film “Snuff” 2005.

To those who say ‘Snuff Movies’ don’t exist I’d say they are delusional. In the aforementioned examples Snuff Films are not only proven real, they are also tied to money and entertainment. Georgia’s killer had a stash of real snuff movies and was a serial offender in this “genre.” In the case of the three kids beaten to death, a group of individuals were found guilty of producing real snuff movies. In Luca Magnotta’s case, Chinese exchange student Jun Lin was killed for the world to see.  Last, Journalist Kim Wall was dismembered while recorded on video only to prove that his killer Peter Madsen wanted to create a snuff movie with Kim Wall as the main star.

So how much more do we need to stop treating Snuff Movies like fiction? How much is it going to cost us before we realize it’s time to open our eyes?!

Before finishing up I want to share one last piece of evidence.

In the 90’s a federal judge sentenced Daniel T. Depew to 33 years in prison, saying the defendant’s plot to kidnap and murder a small child for a pornographic “snuff film” was “as evil as anything I can think of.” Depew, then 28 years old, was convicted of playing a leading role in a conspiracy to kidnap a boy off the street and torturing the child for as long as two weeks before suffocating him for a sex film.

Thankfully this was adverted. So do you still believe snuff films are only fiction?

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Born in winter's coldest month, December, Francesco's inner passion for all things spooky begins with him. Horror aficionado since a young age, Francesco's thirst for horror brings him to consume many films and books, setting the basis for a film-making career in horror, thriller, and sci-fi. Francesco's idea to bring horror fans one step closer is finally a reality with GoreCulture, established on May 2022.

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