Horrifying Snuff Films: Fact or Fiction?

One may not think that something as deplorable as snuff films would have such a rigid definition, but snuff aficionados hold their nightmare videos to high standards. Technically, a snuff film has to feature the slaying of an actual person or people and be made for the express purposes of financial gain. Some wonder if there really is a snuff market out there and who would spend their hard-earned money on that kind of footage. If the popularity of films and video games that feature plot lines based on such gore are to be believed, people are at least willing to entertain the idea that these films are out there, and people are buying them. 

So are snuff films real? It’s a valid question. While there’s incidental footage of people being attacked and taking their own lives online, that doesn’t technically make them snuff films. With the way online content is repackaged and uploaded on less-than-trustworthy sites that are covered with ads, one could argue that all content may be used for financial gain, even cell phone videos. Snuff films play into our fear of the unknown, and as we enter into an ever-expanding digital realm where we can access virtually all knowledge on any topic, they play the part of the boogeyman lurking just a few keystrokes away. Keep reading to discover what’s inside a snuff film hoax.

  • 'Dafu Love'

    Dafu Love, if it even exists, was supposedly made by the very real Peter Scully, an Australian man convicted of numerous sex-related offenses against children. Various reports have alleged that the film-in-question features Scully and another man harming infants through various means, including smashing them together like pillows.

    While the existence of Scully's snuff film is up in the air, what is known is that Scully's crimes in the Philippines were so awful that the country is allegedly trying to reinstate capital punishment just to execute him.  

  • 'Guinea Pig 2: Flowers of Flesh and Blood'

    'Guinea Pig 2: Flowers of Flesh and Blood'
    Video: YouTube

    Imagine popping in a VHS and watching as a camera pans over a table full of wooden instruments and a collection of jars containing something vaguely human. There are black and white photos tacked to a wall and a human head just sitting in some rope. There's also a fish tank full of human hands. Flowers of Flesh and Blood isn't a snuff film, but some audiences in the early '90s didn't know that. At that time, actor Charlie Sheen believed he saw a samurai florist drug a woman and then chop her up into little pieces.

    Immediately after viewing the horror film - which was given to him in 1991 by Attack of the Show's Chris Gore - Sheen called the FBI. The FBI investigated, but after realizing that no one was actually harmed in the making of the film, they quickly closed the case.

  • The Franklin Cover-Up Snuff Film

    The Franklin Cover-Up Snuff Film
    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / flickr / No known copyright restrictions

    There's a film that allegedly shows two boys in Tarzan costumes assaulting another boy in a cage - before the caged boy dies on camera. The supposed snuff film played a large role in The Franklin Cover-up, an alleged child sex ring run by Lawrence E. King - manager of the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union and a vital member of the Reagan era Republican party.

    There's no proof that this video exists, but the many deaths of people surrounding this case lend an air of conspiratorial evidence to a story that would otherwise be deemed far-fetched. The film also allegedly takes place at Bohemian Grove - a private, mysterious, and secluded camp for the wealthy elite.

  • In 2012, Luka Magnotta posted a video of a man tying another man to a bed and stabbing him with an icepick. Then the assailant performs graphic acts of necrophilia. All of this is set to New Order's "True Faith." This video was just the beginning of a series nightmarish acts that Magnotta would commit before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested him. He was then tried and convicted in connection with the murder of Lin Jun.

    In a separate trial that saw the owner of a gore website go on the stand for hosting the film, Canada legally declared 1 Lunatic, 1 Icepick to be a snuff film, stating: 

    It has death, it has horror, it has cruelty, it has violence, it has dismemberment, and it has sex. [...] This isn't staged. This isn't a person following a script.

  • British Police Seize Snuff Film

    On an unmarked video, a teenage girl begs for her life before she's assaulted and strangled with a wire. After the girl passes, the assailant wraps her in a plastic sheet and drags her out of the room. No one knows when this series of events unfolded, but it was found on a VHS tape seized during a raid on a Latvian man’s house in Skelmersdale, Lancashire.

    The man who was in possession of the film, 22-year-old Andreas Bauminis, was sentenced to eight months in jail for possessing the film. Reportedly, authorities didn't conduct an additional investigation regarding whether or not the contents of the tape depicted real events. 

  • 'Cannibal Holocaust'
    Photo: F.D. Cinematografica / Fair Use

    The warning that appears at the beginning of Cannibal Holocaust doesn't truly prepare you for the intense sexual violence that the viewer is about to experience. A woman is impaled on a spike, people are eaten alive by natives, and multiple animals are mutilated onscreen. Audiences in 1980 weren't ready for a "found footage" film like this.

    In order to perpetuate the idea that the film was actually made up of found documentary footage, Cannibal Holocaust's director, Ruggero Deodato, had his main actors sign contracts that would keep them out of the public eye for a year, but that plan backfired when he was arrested on charges of releasing footage of their deaths. After explaining how the effects were captured and that the actors were completely safe, the charges against Deodato were dropped.