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Snuff Films

Powerful Essays
Also known as "white heat" films and "the real thing," the snuff film myth lives on like Bigfoot, despite the fact that no law enforcement agency in America has publicly admitted to ever locating one. Alan Sears, former executive director of the Attorney General's commission on pornography during 1985-86, agrees with the more than two dozen law enforcement agencies I interviewed. "Our experience was that we could not find any such thing as a commercially produced snuff film," says Sears. "Our commission was all-inclusive and exhaustive. If snuff films were available, we'd have found them."

This sentiment is echoed by Ken Lanning, a cult expert at the FBI training academy at Quantico, Virginia. "I've not found one single documented case of a snuff film anywhere in the world. I've been searching for 20 years, talked to hundreds of people. There's plenty of once-removed sightings, but I've never found a credible personality who personally saw one."

Yet the rumour of snuff persists. The scenarios are invariably the same - a remote jungle village in South America, a deserted beach in Thailand, the landscaped garden of a German industrialist, a lonely Everglades swamp. The victims are usually women, often performing a sexual act, their deaths sensational and unexpected.

One of the most resilient snuff rumours concerns convicted "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz, who allegedly filmed the murders of some of his victims. Maury Terry, author of "The Ultimate Evil," a book about Berkowitz and cult killings across America, tells me, "Its believed Berkowitz filmed his murders to circulate within the Church of Satan. On the night of the Stacy Moskowitz killing, there was a VW van parked across the street from the murder site under a bright sodium street lamp.

"Witnesses have confirmed this, although the van never appeared in the police report. Berkowitz or an accomplice filmed Moskowitz's murder, using the street lamp to light the subject as she sat in her car across the street." The 20-year-old Moskowitz was killed in 1977 in Brooklyn.

Terry says the film was apparently made for Roy Radin, the Long Island impresario and "wannabe Cotton Club financier." "Radin was known for his huge porno collection and wanted to add a snuff film to it. I've heard there are ten...

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...hit… we ran out of film."
Another voice whispers, "Did you get it all?"
"Yeah, we got it all."
"Let's get out of here."
The sound of breathing ends.

The reason why the film was a scam?
1. Who would promote a film that showed the actual murder of one of its crew?
2. How can a single camera show several POV shots but not lose the continuity of the action?
3. How can police and the Manhattan district attorney interview a woman who has been murdered on screen?

Robert M. Morgenthau, the district attorney for Manhattan, announced in a news conference that he had determined the on-screen murder of a woman as being a hoax. "It is nothing more than trick photography," he said, adding, "the actress is alive and well." Prompted by continued complaints and petitions, Morganthau's findings were the conclusion of a month long investigation, in which the 'murder victim' had herself been located and interviewed by police.

Shackelton, too, had been traced via the Monarch Releasing Corporation and admitted, after threats of 'considerable forfeiture', that it was not a real woman who was murdered. It appears that controversy sells tickets.
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