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Great American Snuff Film, The - Ominous Productions Print E-mail
User Rating: / 25
Written by S. J. Alpino   
Friday, 11 January 2008

Directed by: Sean Tretta
Written by:
Sean Tretta
Produced by:
Sean Tretta & Mike Marsh
Cinematography by:
Sean Tretta
Music by:
Ryan Hutman
Special Effects by:
Sean Tretta
Cast: Mike Marsh, Ryan Hutman, Melinda Lorenz, Holi Tavernier
Year: 2003
Country: USA
Color: Color
Runtime: 87 minutes

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Video: NTSC R0
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Surround
Official Website:

The first great American snuff film. Back in 1976, Allan Shackleton distributed Michael and Roberta Findlay's film "Slaughter" as the newly retitled "Snuff".  The hook was an all new ending which promised to actually show a real onscreen murder.  This is the birth of the snuff film into urban legend mythology.  The truth is, the ending was merely an exploitation film marketing ploy to infuse profit into an abysmal production.  The special effects and acting captured in this tacked on ending leave no doubt in the viewer's mind that it is completely fake.  Today, we have another film which promises to deliver the prurient goods in the guise of Sean Tretta's "The Great American Snuff Film".  Is this film up to snuff or is Sean Tretta an acolyte of Allan Shackleton hucksterism?  Let the resident libertine of Severed Cinema be your guide into a journey which hopefully ends with you gazing into the dark abyss of cruelty and suffering.

In 1998, William Allen Grone was convicted of 13 counts of felony rape, torture, and murder.  During the investigation into his crimes, a super 8 film canister and a journal were found among Grone's belongings.  The canister contained 2 and a half minutes of film which captured the actual murder of his last victim.  In his journal, William Allen Grone referred to this film as "The Great American Snuff Film".  Sean Tretta's film ends with this actual footage from Grone's crime.

Patti and Sarah, two sexy Suicide Girl type brunettes, along with Sarah's boyfriend party with William Allen Grone and his friend Roy.  Bill and Roy leave once the others pass out.  In the morning they come back and unleash a blitzkrieg attack on the group.  Bill shoots Sarah's boyfriend in the head, pistol whips the girls, then kidnaps them spiriting them away in their version of the Murder Mack van.  The boys' destination is Roy's secluded junkyard in the desert of Arizona.

The film flashes back 6 months previous to answer the question as to how the duo came into possession of the van in the first place.  Chuck is driving through the desert and can't resist the allure of Roy's junkyard oasis.  Chuck's eye catches an old vintage Z, but Roy especially likes Chuck’s old vintage jeans!  Chuck remarks on how he scored his first piece of ass in a car like this, while Roy volunteers his version of ass cherry busting which occurred in a trailer back over there. "And it hurt like HELL when he did it to me, too!  Know what I mean?"  Chuck, rather than take this warning to heart, merely glances back at Roy with a perplexed expression.  Of course another wreck attracts Chuck's attention and before you know it this grease monkey is popping the hood in order to a get a closer look inside.  Roy likes this thought and decides to cop a feel of Chuck's own ball bearings.  Well Chuck doesn't think too highly of this Brokeback country gesture and calls Roy a junkyard faggot.  Roy, not the very self reflective type, takes exception to this and clobbers Chuck repeatedly with a baseball bat until he is unconscious.  Roy calls William Allen Grone and tells him to come on by and check out their newest acquisition.  The pair take Chuck for a ride in his former van in order to dispose of his body in the desert.  Roy wants to simply leave Chuck for dead, but Bill the budding filmmaker decides to have Roy film him with his Super-8 video camera while he shoots Chuck in the head with his gun.  This act inspires Bill to ultimately create his own snuff film.

The film returns to the present.  It's the next day, and the girls, locked away in a trailer, are waking up after being drugged with Rohypnol.  Bill and Roy burst in and menace the girls with a gun all the while filming every wince and moan.  They are fresh from burying the boyfriend in the desert the previous night.  Bill tells the girls, "You belong to me now, bitch."  Then he punches Patti in the gut knocking the wind out of her.  Later on, when the girls yet again regain consciousness, we are treated to Patti's breasts spilling out of her camisole top as she struggles to drink water out of a doggie bowl.  Misogyny never looked so sexy.  That night, Roy and Bill take the girls out to the desert in order for them to dig their own graves.

It's back to the past when Bill fondly recalls his past encounter with a lanky, redheaded ho from his childhood neighborhood.  Bill offers the large (large for a street whore who was having a discussion about $20 blow jobs with her co-worker) sum of $200 for a date with her at his house.  Smart business woman that she is she counter offers $300, and since she ain't gonna see a Benny anyway Bill agrees to the price.  The one hour lovers retire to Bill's parent's bedroom where he makes one final request.  Bill has the fiery haired hooker put on a dress in the bathroom as he adjusts the mood lighting for her perfect date-with-a-serial killer.  When she enters the bedroom she is startled by the now pitch black room, and before she can do anything Bill caresses her face from behind with a plastic bag.  Finally dead, the real date can commence as Bill mounts his quickly growing cold prey and fucks to his heart's content happy in the knowledge that those cold eyes can no longer judge him.  The absolute romantic that is Bill takes his dead date into the bathroom where he gives her a soothing bath to wash away her worries and her blood.

It's once again present day, and we find Bill and Roy outside taunting the girls who are now standing on steel drums while locked in separate steel cages.  Roy pokes obviously unlit cigarettes onto the girls' flesh, and they groan unconvincingly.  Work beckons Bill, so Roy is left in charge of their prey.  Roy can't help himself and decides to free Patti for some private fun of his own.  Once alone, Patti gives Roy plenty to handle and before you know it we're down to one little Indian left cause Roy uses his Bowie knife to stab Patti in her gut.  Bill senses something is amiss and rushes back to the junkyard only to find Roy digging a grave for Patti.  Bill, not the forgiving type either, puts a slug into Roy's head.  Unmoved, Bill decides it's time for the endgame and takes Sarah to the trailer which will serve as the setting for his masterpiece.  Sarah has a trick up her shorts and stabs Bill with a rusty nail before he can inject her with more drugs.  Sarah grabs the tripod and smacks Bill in the head stunning him just enough for her escape.  Bill awakens, jumps into his van, and makes a fateful decision.  Left leads to a highway and right leads to an abandoned train station. Bill goes left to the train station and finds Sarah cowering in the darkness, and she relents to her cruel fate.  Bill takes his girl back home and films his opus of atrocity.

Mike Marsh as William Allen Grone has a Gene Hackman from "The Conversation" look going for his character.  Marsh also uses a monotone voice in his performance which is effective in displaying control and obsessiveness.  Marsh's mini bursts of rage are not as menacing as they should be.  Ryan Hutman's Roy is a quarter baked back roads inbred.  It doesn't make sense how the seemingly intelligent William Allen Grone would trust Roy with his prized possessions or even become involved with Roy in the first place.  As for the women, neither one has much to do besides look sexy while bound in duct tape.  The lack of nudity also bothered me, because this would have been more realistic than having them rolling around in camisoles and tight shorts.  Sean Tretta's A.D.D. style quick cut editing and his use of camera tricks (the scene in which Bill shoots Roy the picture turning red is one example that comes to mind) act as distractions rather than infusing the film with a unique sensibility.  The techno music created by Ryan Hutman is completely out of place for a film meditating on such a serious subject matter.  These techniques emphasize the fact that this is a cheap, shot on video affair as opposed to making the viewer feel like the filmmaker is trying to achieve something significant or meaningful despite the limitations of his small budget.

Now we come to the final two and a half minutes of the movie.  The most infamous two and a half minutes ever filmed in the history of cinema.  Is it real or is it "Snuff"?  The answer could be you'll have to judge for yourself.  That's so cliché, though; and misleading.  Because it indicates that the answer is ambiguous.  That the footage in question is real enough to create doubt or belief depending on which side of the fence you are on.  I want to believe.  I really do.  But in the back of my mind I know it is too good to be true.  Watching the final frames of the film my instant reaction is "The Blair Witch Project" is more believable; a film which heavily influenced this one.   Instead of staring into the abyss of darkness, pain and agony I am staring at a Z-grade faux snuff film.  Oh, the humanity.  In all seriousness, I really didn't expect to watch the real thing.  I did expect to watch a scene that at least attempted to make me question its authenticity.  The snuff film in "Emanuelle in America" came a hell of a lot closer to this small goal.  Whatever the budget was for "The Great American Snuff Film", I would have made sure almost every dollar of it went into this last two and a half minutes.  It is in these final minutes that this video has any chance of having a lasting impact upon the viewer, because it certainly isn't coming from the other 85 minutes. "The Great American Snuff Film" is "Snuff" redux which in this day and age is not nearly nasty enough.


1.85:1 Widescreen
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Dolby Surround
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Carrie  - I did not care   | |2008-05-09 03:40:17
My brother loaned me this movie, I found it compelling, like looking on the
inside of a mad man's mind. Good research for a book I am doing.
john von ahlen  - awful     | |2008-07-14 10:44:45
wow. Who would have thought that video could look 'that' cheap? And don't get me
started on the overdubs. Could the audio sound any more amateurish? The only
thing missing was a few star-wipes. 0/10.
Elizabeth Allen  - Sick bastard   | |2008-07-28 21:14:08
he is such a sick bastard i hate what he has done to the yong girls who wanted
to live a life and i don't understand why peopl don't give a shit about it all i
can say is that America is a disgrace expecially when the 5 0's just don't find
them before being murded there just useless there cops
Chris Mayo     |SAdministrator |2008-08-07 20:04:36
I still need to check this out some day.
Todd  - Puh-leaze   | |2008-11-20 17:52:45
I can't believe ANYBODY is stupid enough to look at this film and think there is
anything "REAL" going on here. The last 2-1/2 minutes is so obviously
faked. I mean, anybody can tell it is faked, and faked badly. But, beyond that,
what kind of childish imbecile would look at a piece of film purporting to show
an actual murder and say " I want to believe. I really do. But in the back
of my mind I know it is too good to be true."

You need to get some very
serious help. I am not joking.
S.J. Alpino   | |2012-04-23 16:16:33
Thanks for reading. As for my hope to one day watch the real thing? After
watching beheadings and other atrocities online a genuine snuff film would bring
back that horror feeling.
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