Made in South America: locating 'Snuff'

Glenn Ward

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


This essay examines the film Snuff (1976) in tems of the ideological implications of its visual and textual construction. Most accounts of this film deal with its significance solely in tems of debates about media violence, pornography and censorship. Most scholarly writings on the film also quote its advertising tagline, used in American and British campaigns and still used on the currently widely available DVD: “the film that could only be made in South America – where life is CHEAP!” Few discuss how ‘South America’ functions here. Building on the politcal resonances of this tagline, the essay looks at how competing notions of ‘South America’ operate in the film and in the discourse around it. It argues that while many of the film’s constructions of the region in which it is set manifest a neo-colonialist point of view, this perspective is internally contradictory and inconsistent. Certain of the film's representations place and space are located within a disjointed geography that resists containment by Latin American stereotypes. I also suggest that the financially-led decision to transplant a North American story to Latin American soil - along with the rough and ready assemblage of this “exquisite corpse exercise in filmmaking” (Hawkins 2000: 136) – creates textual ruptures and tensions which menace the binary model of the colonizer’s hegemonic vision pitched against, and successfully silencing, the subaltern Other. Many aspects of Snuff and its marketing practices clearly invite this model, but it does not go unchallenged in the film. In order to make these claims the essay departs from the prevailing writing on the film by offering a detailed analysis of its textual construction, and relating it to both postcolonialist discourse and the problematics of transgression in the critical discourse of exploitation cinema.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLatsploitation, Latin America and exploitation cinemas
EditorsD. Tierney, V. Ruetalo
Place of PublicationOxon, UK
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9780415898546
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

Publication series

NameRoutledge Advances in Film Studies


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