After being released from prison, Terry Hawkins (Roger Watkins) decides to shoot snuff films--movies that show actual killings. He gathers up a group of fellow lunatics, and the carnage begins. If you have never heard of this film, there's a lot to know about it...and that's before even getting to what you see on the screen! In the spirit of the title of this blog, I will condense the fun facts--Watkins is also the writer, director, producer...basically one-man band of this film, but he used many pseudonyms in the credits. In fact, everybody involved with the movie did, so when you see the credits, the names are all fake. Though shot in 1972, the film was not released until 1977 because Watkins was being sued by one of the actresses in the movie. Having given up on the movie, Watkins himself had no idea it even made it to the screens until 1979 when somebody recognized him. Furthermore, nobody had any idea who anybody in this film really was until 2000, when Watkins finally admitted to being the man behind it. Finally, the movie gained notoriety in the grindhouse circuits upon it's 1977 release, as rumors spread it actually WAS a snuff film. There is more to the story of this film, and I encourage you to check it all out...after spending time on my site, of course.
Now, back to the movie itself. As I mentioned, this is grindhouse to the bloody bone, and in all honesty, is one that should be approached with caution. If you are not a huge fan of extreme gore, stay away...far away. The movie looks like it was shot on a home video recorder circa 1968, so the presentation may be off-putting to some as well. I personally love the looks, as we see the film scratches and occasional missing frame. There are tons of plot holes, but alas, there's also an explanation for this-- the film runs 78 or 76 minutes (depending on which version you come across) but was original 178 minutes long! The dubbing is awful, and unfortunately, not in an entertaining way--it's actually the thing I dislike most about this movie. The acting is so-so, with nothing being too great or horrible. Watching this movie through a year 2020 lens, you may find it funny to think people believed this was a real snuff film, but if you can imagine being in 1977 and seeing this, it's actually fairly easy to get it--you just didn't see most of this in movies back then. There is some disturbing stuff here, from the severing of one character's limbs to rape to the beating of another character, all being captured on camera by another character. Perhaps most interesting about this movie is the apparent anti-violence message--much like the 1997 film Funny Games, this is a movie that makes a statement about how entertainment, and the movie industry specifically, shamelessly exploits violence, rape, and murder by exploiting all three. Also worth noting is that Watkins was inspired to make this movie after reading a book about The Manson Family murders--it was actually originally intended to be a movie about the family, but that was changed at some point by the writer/director/actor/potential father of Dwight Schrute.