The Dark Side of Porn Format Documentary TV Series Starring None Country of origin United Kingdom Production Running time 50 minutes Broadcast Original channel Channel 4 Original run 2005 – present
The programme kicked off with a mention of Charles Manson. There is a theory that Manson and his family were the originators of the Snuff movie, by allegedly filming the terrible murder of Sharon Tate, the then wife of director Roman Polanski. Rumours that the tapes got passed round is said to be the first example of a want for Snuff videos.
The documentary went on to review the first film regarded to be akin to a Snuff movie, which was called Cannibal Holocaust. The film was littered with beheadings, castrations and a girl impaled on a huge stake. The film was shot in a haphazard 'documentary style' which led many to believe that the film was filled with "real killing and torture". Uproar and outcry inevitably followed, but looking back, it was plain to see that it was no more than a B-Movie (complete with fantastic Moog soundtrack).
The notoriety of the film made it a huge success, which led to another 'video nasty' called Guinea Pig 2 - The Flower of Flesh and Blood. The clips shown in the documentary were indeed difficult to stomach. One scene included showed a Samurai hacking a young girl's hand off. The thing that set this apart however was the overt sexual nature of the film, which 'climaxed' with a shot of the murderous Samurai licking blood from a decapitated head. Many believed the film to contain genuine murder and torture (which is still believable even now) but alas, it was a sophisticated special effects bonanza.
The main difference between a video nasty, like for example, A Clockwork Orange, and what is deemed to be a snuff flick is the nature of the killings involved. Murder scenes don't make a snuff movie. It would seem that the main thing that defines a snuff film is not just the barbaric and unnecessary murder of someone, but the sexual nature involved. It isn’t a case of, like one copycat murderer sentenced to death in Japan in the early eighties, that a snuff movie should only fulfil one person’s bizarre gratifications, but have some kind of production value.
However, with the development of home video cameras, it would become increasingly difficult for the police and censors to determine which videos were fake, and which were real events.
Germany saw the first real sign that snuff movies are not a thing of fiction. Two German men kidnapped a prostitute and filmed the gruesome torture and abuse of her. The victim had “suffered the most agonising pain possible”. Hans Dieter Kausen and his accomplice were convicted and the evidence needed was all on tape. This has sinister links to Mrya Hindley and Ian Brady, who, if the means were possible, would have made a snuff film of their moors victims, and when they made their tapes, they had made “snuff audio”.
The internet has seen an increase in snuff, as it has made the genre so much easier to distribute and view. Daniel Pearl’s decapitation in Iraq is a perfect example of the ease in which death can be distributed over the web. ‘Happy Slapping’ is the latest link to snuff, and David Morley, the first death in the craze that has apparently swept across the nation.
The programme doesn’t really confirm the existence of snuff films. It certainly seems that there is a lack of evidence to support the claim, but the makers have missed films such as ‘Der Todesking’ which contains real death, and “Executions” a self explanatory film, which was briefly on sale in Woolworths up and down the country.
It would seem that deciding what defines a snuff movie is quite difficult, but it has become the stuff of urban myth. Regardless of the lack of proof or expose, ‘Does Snuff Exist’ was a fascinating look into the darkest most despicable area of cinema.
The Dark Side of Porn is a documentary series that examines the Adult Entertainment Industry. It is produced for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. As of June 2006, it is in its second season.
|Episode #||Title||Original air date|
|01||"Porn Shutdown"||April 25, 2005|
|Darren James was diagnosed with HIV in early 2005, which led to a two month shutdown of the adult movie industry in Los Angeles. Featuring Sharon Mitchell, founder of AIM Healthcare and Rob Black, producer of Gonzo pornography.|
|02||"Diary of a Porn Virgin"||April 26, 2005|
|This episode gives an insight in the lives of newcomers to the adult entertainment. From the initial approach to a glamour agency and the first sexy photo-shoot to the HIV test, the audition and the first hardcore shoot, it shows the gritty reality of what working in the porn industry means in Britain today.|
|03||"Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered"||April 27, 2005|
|A search for the secrets behind the legendary porn movie Debbie Does Dallas, with the mysterious entrance and disappearance of the main star Bambi Woods. Featuring interviews with Robin Byrd, female actress in the movie and Bill Kelly, a former FBI agent once working on an undercover operation to bust porn producers.|
|04||"Death of a Porn Star"||April 28, 2005|
|This episode examines the mystery surrounding the death of Lolo Ferrari. Featuring candid interviews with Lola's mother, her plastic surgeon and her husband|
Season 02 (2006)
|Episode #||Title||Original air date|
|01||"Amateur Porn"||April 10, 2006|
|This episode examines what is going on in the British sex industry, where new male actors are lining up to do a job without getting paid.|
|02||"Me and My Slaves"||April 11, 2006|
|This episodes is centered around "Rick", a BDSM Dominator who wants to quit the job after doing it for 25 years. Over a period of more than a year, Rick talks intimately about his life.|
|03||"Hunting Emmanuelle"||April 12, 2006|
|This episode examines the cultural impact of the movie Emmanuelle. Featuring an interview with Sylvia Kristel. |
|04||"Does Snuff Exist?"||April 18, 2006|
|This episode investigates the truth behind snuff movies.|
|05||"The Real Animal Farm"||April 19, 2006|
|Looks into the story behind the bestiality porn movies, and reveals how Animal Farm saw the light.|
As of 2009, neither the Motion Picture Association of America, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, nor any U.S. law enforcement agency have put forth legislation or terminology that would define the term "snuff film" authoritatively.
Some possible definitions include a number of acts (killing of animals, faked deaths, suicides and murders) which are filmed and only later distributed. In most cases the only motive to risk any exposure of the filmmakers' involvement is commercial. Some definitions state that snuff films must be pornographic in nature.
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 Family might have been involved in the making of such a film (although no film has 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). "Snuffed it", meaning dead, was used repeatedly in the novel A Clockwork Orange (1962).The Michael Powell film Peeping Tom (1960) featured a killer who filmed his victims, but the concept of a "snuff movie" 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 depicted an actress killed on a movie set. Promotion of Snuff created the illusion that an actual murder had been captured on film, with the producer writing angry letters of complaint to the New York Times and hiring phony protestors to picket screenings.In the wake of Snuff, many movies explored similar themes, including the Paul Schrader film Hardcore (1979), the Ruggero Deodato film Cannibal Holocaust (1980), David Cronenberg's Videodrome (1983), the Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Running Man (1987), the Nine Inch Nails film "The Broken Movie" (1993) the film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), the Alejandro Amenabar film Tesis (1996), the film Strange Days (1995), the Anthony Waller film Mute Witness (1994), the Joel Schumacher film 8mm (1999) and was featured in the John OttmanUrban Legends: Final Cut (2000), Fred Vogel's film August Underground (2001) and its sequels. film,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 British film director Bernard Rose's film Snuff-Movie (2005), the Nimród Antal film Vacancy (2007) and also in the WWE film The Condemned (2007) and the Gregory Hoblit film Untraceable.
Some murderers have in various instances recorded their acts on video; however, the resultant footage is not usually considered to be a snuff film because it is not made for the express purpose of distribution. In the early 1980s, Charles Ng and Leonard Lake videotaped their torturing of women they would later kill. Serial killers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka videotaped some of their sex crimes in the early 1990s. Though their crimes ended in murder, the actual murders were not videotaped. Only a select few people have ever seen this footage, as viewing was restricted to lawyers and other courtroom personnel. The footage has since reportedly been destroyed. Another example is the video taken in 2001 by the German Armin Meiwes of the killing of Bernd Jürgen Armando Brandes. In 1995 the documentary film Executions showed the actual executions of various people condemned to death, but again, these deaths were not intended for entertainment.
In 1997, the Germans Ernst Dieter Korzen and Stefan Michael Mahn kidnapped a prostitute and recorded her torture. The two men were sentenced to life imprisonment. Prosecutors involved in the case claimed there is an international market for such videosAs early as the 1940s, Weegee found fame for his photographs of victims of street crime in New York City. In later decades, the American public was fascinated by the Zapruder film of the assassination of John F. Kennedy; the Zapruder film has since been featured in Oliver Stone film JFK, among other fictional works. Similarly, Professione: reporter, a film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, contains a sequence that depicts an actual execution by firing squad. Earlier still, in 1901 the Edison company released a film of a re-enactment of the execution of Leon Czolgosz, assassin of U.S. President William McKinley.
In the Maysles' documentary film Gimme Shelter, Meredith Hunter is stabbed to death on screen by a Hells Angel at the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont Speedway.
The Faces of Death film series found popularity in the 1980s on videocassette, and even on broadcast television, shows like World's Wildest Police Videos have been successful (though for broadcast television, more gruesome footage is usually censored).
In the Internet age, it is possible to download videos depicting actual murders or deaths (e.g. the filmed deaths of Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, Saddam Hussein, Paul Johnson, Kim Sun-il, Eugene Armstrong, Jack Hensley, Kenneth Bigley and a Russian sergeant, the shooting of Yitzhak Rabin and the gun suicides of Ricardo Cerna, Ricardo Lopez and Budd Dwyer).
Recently videos depicting suicide bombings and attacks on U.S. military in Iraq have been posted on video sharing website YouTube by extremist groups, which has become an increasingly difficult problem for the U.S. as replacement videos can be uploaded just as quickly as they are taken down.
However, it is not clear that the fascination engendered by these records would extend to filmed murders carried out expressly for the purpose of filming a murder (actual snuff films). Since it is trivially easy today to produce a film that simulates a murder in a completely believable way, there is little commercial incentive to risk the legal repercussions of producing a film in which a murder is actually committed (much less documented on film).