Kicking off to a riff stolen directly from Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild", SNUFF opens to a couple of hippy chicks roaring down a country lane on a motorbike. Immediately it couldn't be more blatant that here is a film shot - and set - in the early 70s.

The repetitive riff continues (and keeps reappearing throughout the film) as the two women find their fellow gang member Anna sparked out in a field. Anna has been sneaking off and getting high on her gang's drugs � and so must be punished. First she is shot in the shoulder as she tries to escape her friends. Then she is held to the ground, her bare feet forced into makeshift wooden stocks.

The ensuing scene of toe-cutting would be nasty were it not so ineptly orchestrated.

Anna is spared her life because she is considered to be a valuable gang member. The gang of drug-addled she-devils on wheels is led and controlled by a Manson-type figure, Satan (seriously). Oh, and it's pronounced "Sa-taaan" �

The film follows the infamous story of the Manson Murders loosely, as a famous film director and his starlet actress bride jet into Argentina to promote their latest film.

Inevitably, Satan wants to make a statement and decides that by killing the pregnant actress and her friends (well, getting his women to do his dirty work for him!) he can do so.

As uninspired as the plot sounds, it becomes even worse when you actually sit through this mess � and a tale that essentially takes 80 minutes to tell, seems to last a lifetime. The South American dancing rituals clumsily edited into the middle of the film don't help the flagging pace much either!

Of course, the reason for this film's notoriety is not the fact that it's badly overdubbed, or even that it boasts a script that co-director Roberta Findlay described as "really awful, it made no sense" (sourced from the Aurum Horror Film Encyclopaedia, although I recall a similar disowning of the film from Ms Findlay during her promotion of THE ORACLE in an early Fangoria).

It's the four-minute scene tagged inexplicably onto the end of the film, where a film crew finish shooting a bedroom scene - then continue filming as the zealous director murders a young actress � for 'real'.

It's a shameless (and indeed shameful) attempt to add life to a hopeless hippy film called SLAUGHTER that husband-wife team Michael and Roberta Findlay had made in 1974.

The film languished on a shelf for a couple of years, considered by many as too shit to release. Until, that is, Monarch Releasing Corp got hold of it. Alan Shackleton was the man who linked the Manson theme to the infamous myth of the 'Family's lost snuff film reels buried somewhere in the desert, and dreamt up a new title for the film - along with a salacious advertising campaign ("Made in South America � where life is CHEAP!) and that new ending �

The rest is history � the film made a fortune upon it's US theatrical release in 1976, and was lobbied against on the grounds that it included an unsimulated murder at the end of the film. This must be true, the witch-hunters argued, because the film deliberately carried no credits.

But - were they all blind?! The FX are poor, even by early 70s standards. The truth is, of course, that the people who rallied against this movie the hardest were those who hadn't even seen the thing. Like the DPP, for example, who banned the UK VHS back in the 80s �

Well, it's now available uncut on DVD courtesy of Blue Underground.

The packaging is basic, but nice. The brown paper bag cover gives the impression of something sordid and taboo waiting within. The lack of synopsis on the back cover (there isn't even a BU logo) adds to the illegitimate feel.

Having said that, the original British video cover or US theatrical poster artwork would have been cool �!

In keeping with the 'snuff' theme, the disc itself plays like it's something you'd just stumbled across - free from the frills we take for granted in this day and age: don't expect chapters, menus, etc, cos there aren't any. Special features? You're having a laugh!

It's a clever marketing ploy, I'll give them that. But I'm still torn between smiling at what BU have done with this US release (and, apparently, plan to do the same with the forthcoming UK release - also uncut), and grimacing at the lack of background information that could have been provided. SNUFF, after all, is a film with one hell of a history behind it.

Even an inlay card/booklet may have been nice - but, no, not a thing. Good concept, but value for money?

Blue Underground have covered their backs though, by making this a 'limited' release - each edition is individually numbered (well, the back cover is).

The full-frame picture is surprisingly good. The best I've ever seen this film look BY FAR. Sure, there is the occasional speck and vertical line here and there, but generally this is a nice clear image with vibrant, sharp colours. I was mightily impressed, in fact!

The sound is English mono and free from hiss or drop-out. Again, a marked improvement on previous manifestations. And, let's face it, a micro-budget shitfest like this is never going to benefit from the 5.1 Surround treatment!

Reading back on the above review, I realise how negative I sound. SNUFF is a crap film, I can't lie. But there is an alluring murkiness to it's look that strangely compels me against my better judgement.

As a former video nasty collector still slightly in love with the halcyon days of searching high and low for titles like this on VHS, I also value this title as a piece of nostalgia attached to a time that seems to have gone forever.

So, yeah, I forked out the cash for this knowing what I was getting � and I can live quite happily with that. If you were there, in the 80s, and remember the significance a title like SNUFF (rightly or wrongly) had, then you'll understand.

Anyone else will just be baffled and bored by the film - and infuriated by the disc.

Ah hell, read between the lines - this is actually a good review �!!

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Blue Underground
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :