Snuff (Michael Findlay & Simon Nuchtern / Argentina-U.S., 1976):

Cocteau’s vision of film as death, the choked South America of Pinochet and Bordaberry and Médici, the curdled counterculture, exploitation cinema deforms and illuminates them all. Easy Rider is the starting point of analysis, roadside vistas and Steppenwolf send-up and all, in the portrait of a harem of scraggly banshees lorded over by a Mansonite lunkhead whose every inane declaration against "the false morality" echoes throughout the screen. Contrasted with their rituals and depredations is the insipid romance of a pregnant actress and a loathsome playboy in Montevideo, after reels and reels of carnival footage they’re brought together to the living room of the European industrialist who turns a profit selling arms to Middle East conflicts. "All my life I’ve been in one bondage or another," laments one of Satán’s followers; he ravishes her in a protracted initiation (blue-tinged and close up like a Warhol loop) and points to the bourgeois sanctuary: "The time has come for slaughter." Michael Findlay’s original 1971 Argentine potboiler is plodding, greasily shot, pockmarked with artless Peckinpah steals; added to inflame controversy for the 1976 U.S. release, Simon Nuchtern’s mock-vérité coda is a bit of carny deplorability that would have had Herschell Gordon Lewis himself calling foul. And yet, grubby schlock rubbing against grubby schlock produces a document of accidental grindhouse self-reflexivity, an implicative spectacle of theatricalized horror against a backdrop of genuine horror, a camera that exposes forbidden appetites by debasing itself. (Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS and Cannibal Holocaust are its mates.) Discolored gore and disembodied voices, the butchered body politic, "vida es muerte." In the end there’s nothing left to do but literally shove innards in the face of the audience that came to see them.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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