Does snuff exist?

Short answer: not that anyone can verify.

From Snopes:

The world being full of depraved individuals is used as justification for believing in the snuff film fallacy. That it could happen is translated in the minds of many to it must have happened. Somewhere. At some time. We just haven’t found the film yet.

The rumor about snuff films has been with us since the early 1970s. In close to 30 years not one of those films has surfaced. When tempted to believe this rumor, keep that fact close to your heart. Remind yourself again and again, if you have to that nothing ever comes of these investigations.

(via Reverse Cowgirl)


  1. See ‘Killing for Culture’ by David Kerekes and David Slater. I get a ‘thanks to’ in that book and an uncredited quote. After that book, there’s nothing new to say about snuff films.

  2. Snorkmaster Flex

    May 18, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    What? Faces of Death doesn’t count? War footage doesn’t count?

    You want a snuff film? See if you can get the government to release all of the Abu Ghraib footage.

    Of course this stuff exists; it just doesn’t “surface” into regular distribution channels.

    And, isn’t it enough that the acts themselves exist?

  3. Snork – snuff film refers to something specific, not just video footage of people dying. So no, Faces of Death and war footage do not count. If they did, we ‘ve been watching snuff since at least the Zapruder film.

    The closest stuff to snuff I’ve seen are the videos of the executions of Daniel Pearl and Nick Berg.

  4. Snorkmaster Flex

    May 19, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    The government never released all of the Abu Ghraib footage, where people were raped, sodomized, and otherwise degraded.

  5. Snorkmaster Flex

    May 24, 2008 at 10:32 am

    A girl filmed a boy being kicked to death by other kids. Is that a snuff film?

  6. Wikipedia and Snopes cite this definition from Killing for culture: “A snuff film, or snuff movie, depicts the actual killing of a human being?a human sacrifice (without the aid of special effects or other trickery) perpetrated for the medium of film for the purpose of entertainment and distribution.”

    The case of the girl filming the killing of that boy is very close – but there was apparently not sufficient evidence to prove that the kids intended to kill their victim (they were found guilty of manslaughter).

    I would actually probably define snuff a little more specifically than the Killing for Culture definition – the snuff legend usually involves people getting kidnapped and killed for the purpose of making snuff films to sell.

  7. Or, more elegantly written, also from Wikipedia: “The most common definition of a snuff film is of a motion picture showing the actual murder of a human being that is produced, perpetrated, and distributed solely for the purpose of profit. This definition thereby excludes recordings of murders caught by accident, and videotapes of actual murders that were never intended to be released as entertainment films (such as the videos and photos sometimes produced by serial killers like Leonard Lake as ‘trophies’). Given these criteria, the existence of snuff films is highly questionable, and commercial snuff films have long been relegated by skeptics to the realm of urban legend and moral panic. To date, no film generally accepted as fitting this definition has been found.”

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