Slasher Month: Snuff Kill, aka Screen Kill (1997)

This is the one time when the grainy, washed-out, 3/4″ tape production values of SOV films works to the advantage of its subject matter, in this case: a grimy, underground snuff film. And this film wastes no time in getting to the “snuff”: a woman tied and blindfolded to a chair has a knife’s tip navigate her body — then she’s repeatly stabbed. And we haven’t even got to the hung-by-the-ankles head explosion, the torso-leg separation by chainsaw, and the not-so-garden variety decapitation. This isn’t a film for the weak: it’s bloody, the nudity is bountiful, and the psychobabble as to the “why” is plot piffle. (And, as I recall, there’s a bit of coprophilia involved; if not in this film, it was one of the Shock-o-Rama banner’s other titles. So, you’ve been warned.)

Yeah, Snuff Kill has already exceeded the sleaze and gore shock content of the Holy Grail of the SOV/Big Box plains, Spine, which was made with the sole purpose of taking John Carpenter’s Halloween to its next grimy, logical step — and failed.

But not Snuff Kill, baby.

The VHS cover that I remember.

It’s dark. It’s mean. This is a film tricks that you — courtesy of its lack of the usual SOV camp — into believing you’re watching real kills and not Karo-n-food colored special effects. Are there acting and production faux pas? Are some of the SFXs a bit off-the-mark? Sure. This is a zero-budgeted SOV, after all. But for what is, essentially, a bunch of high school friends getting together on the weekends to make a movie, it’s a commendable effort.

The “uncut” VHS reissue I don’t remember. Kevin Smith’s Clerks, anyone?

The noirish tailspin of Doug, a struggling filmmaker who settles as a struggling wedding videographer, begins when, instead of going to the movies to see a horror flick, his squeeze decides they should go to metal concert. And Doug, loving both horror flicks and metal, does as his lady doth request (you know, just another pussy-whipped, bloody-metal lover like myself and Sam, the B&S Movies boss).

Doug comes to realize that the band he and his wife just watched — its members adorned in monk habits who slit their throats on stage — is fronted by his old high school buddy, Ralis (writer-director Al Dargo). And Ralis enlists his old camera-totin’ friend to make the ultimate gore flick scored with the music of his band. Doug (the not bad Mark Williams in his only film role) is, at first, fascinated by the “realistic” gore that Ralis creates; he soon comes to realize the “kills” are real. Of course, as with any film noir protagonist, Doug is repulsed and fascinated his friend’s exploits and becomes his reluctant, murdering accomplice.

Sigh. Thanks for the memories of the good ‘ol days of hitting the ol’ mom-and-pop video store sandwiched between a quickie market and Punjabi eatery with a gym on the corner bay next door to an insurance agency; a dinky-cheesy outlet stocked with way too many titles under the Shock-O-Rama banner (the owner was stocking the shelves more for himself than his clientele, obviously). The label also distributed Doug Ulrich and Al Dargo’s first two SOV entries: the even harder-to-find (than Snuff Kill) Scary Tales (1993) and Darkest Souls (1994). The music of the film is provided by (very cool-named) Thee Enigma Jar and Doug and Al’s band Surefire.

Yeah! There’s an age-restricted, sign-in upload on You Tube for Snuff Kill! And bless the analog lords, ye uploader loves their SOV horror! There’s several SOV titles on the Letterboxd Funtime TY page that will interest you, along with Doug Ulrich and Al Dargo’s debut feature, Scary Tales. Yes! This is going to be one awesome October, baby!

From the I Did Not Know that Files: Doug and Al returned in 2013 with another SOV blood-boiler, 7 Sins of the Vampire, copies of which you can purchase through Amazon and Best Buy.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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