Snuff (1976) occupies a unique place in cinematic history, as the first commercially
successful film to capitalise upon the myth of the ‘snuff’ movie. By blending cinema verité styling with a media moral panic, savvy producer Allan Shackleton’s blending of a long-forgotten exploitation film with a newly filmed bloody, if unconvincing conclusion, only served to consolidate the belief that somewhere, at some time, someone was killed on camera in an attack that was as much about the sexual gratification of the film’s intended audience, as it was about the commercial rewards for those producing the film. In the years since its release, the film has been routinely cited as ‘evidence’ of the snuff movie’s existence, contributing to a cultural history that exists outside of the film. This book explores the production, distribution and exhibition of the film Snuff, alongside that cultural history, considering how a scarcely seen exploitation film contributed to a popular understanding of the snuff movie. It assesses the cultural, cinematic and political legacy of the film and asks whether the established definition of
what might constitute a snuff movie, that was defined 45 years ago, is sufficient in an attention economy that is based upon participatory culture.