Fixing the Tracking on Those EVIL VHS Cassettes! “Snuff Tapes” reviewed! (MVDVisual / DVD)

Ready to be Recorded?  “Snuff Tapes” now available at Amazon.com!

Marcela Arkaino investigates a Talca, Chile rapist and murder who has been drugging and abducting women for years to record aberrant tapes of his cruel exploits.  Marcela takes a special eager interest in this particular assignment as she was one of those unfortunate women.  As a silver lining out of an extremely bad situation, she is one of three women left alive by her brutal sex-sadist aggressor.  As the reporter in her garners the difficult stories from the other two survivors, Cataline and Jesus, abused by the same masked man, she inches closer to his whereabouts by triangulating attacks and connecting similarities but her scouring of roadside market, unlabeled VHS tapes became the smoking gun needle in a haystack that produces not just any depraved tape of his victims but of her own ordeal, turning now an inch into a mile in finding him.  Bring the other two women into the fold, Marcela devises a plan of revenge to direct a snuff film of her own, starring their rapist and torturer.  

Hailing from Talca, Chile, the same location where the story is set, comes the shock-slamming, VHS-inspired thriller “Snuff Tapes,” aka “Cintas Tapes,” from the Chilean born independent filmmaker, Vito Garcia Viedma.  The writer-director’s prior two zombie-influenced short films, the 2012 “Bajo el sonido del tren” and the 2017 “Escape from Zombie City,” along with the criminal underbelly 2017 feature, Los culpables,” displays a course change deviation that wouldn’t prepare the average Viedma film fan for his 2020 venture into the dark underworld exploitation of indie snuff.  While the title highlights the concept around videotaping the misuse of a person’s trust and vulnerability for one’s own disturbing profit, in this case to get one’s jolly’s off, much of Viedma’s story skirts around the edge with just mentioning the nixing of captured and consumed of vivacity women, saving the story’s climax for more detailed death dealing in a vengeful perspective rather than a videotaped one. “Snuff Tapes” is created under Viedma’s ZineFilms production company in association with Cabro Chico and Trippas Productions.

“Snuff Tapes” is no “8MM” with a mega-Hollywood budget and Nic Cage doing Nic Cage antics. “Snuff Tapes” is no “Effects” with cult icons Joseph Pilato and Tom Savini helming sordid scenes from fantasy to non-fiction. “Snuff Tapes” isn’t even on the same level as “A Serbian Film” and, to be honest, I don’t think any film anytime soon will ever be on the same level as that twisted picture. What all three of those successful and notorious films have in common and what Viedma lacks in separating itself from the rest are in two very important details: a budget and an array of talent. Viedma’s film humbles in comparison with not only a microbudget but also in a cast makeup of essentially five actors with withering substance. Valentina Soto Albornoz stars as the retribution-reporter, Cataline Ibarra, who for the last decade has been piecing together clues of her kidnapper’s whereabouts by purchasing random video cassettes tapes from Talca street vendors and when Ibarra strikes gold unearthing her own ugly tape, she understandably feels overwhelmed reliving visually the nightmare and subsequently gravitates toward being hellbent for revenge. Ibarra recruits her survivor carbon copies in the tattooed Jesus Mayano (Camila Medina) and aspiring photography model Marcela Arkaino (Camila Carreno Arancibia) for a little payback, but Ibarra, aside from her good friend Esteban (Hugo Villar) providing her a PAL encoded VHS player and rewatching her tape to catch clues missed, she virtually does all the legwork in pinpointing the one responsible, drugging him, abducting him, and committing herself to the nitty-gritty, fantasy plan for whenever she got her hands on him. I’m not sure what roles or business Arkaino or Mayano actually had to just stand there moping other than maybe bear witness to the end of their lifelong torment, to see the boogeyman parish once and for all? Reinaldo Aravena plays the man behind the mask who initially puts up a strong showing as the camera operator and stud of his homemade videos but then quickly fizzles disappointingly on the opposite side of the camera due to a lack of scaled down combating in what becomes just a one-woman show without much to show for it.

Viedma paves an interesting structural path for his film, taking the audience an extended 36-minute introduction of voiced over VHS recordings of survivor stories before entering opening credits to what then becomes a dichotomy narrative between backstory and present day. This also speaks to the visual cinematography as well that jumps back and forth between being shot on the VHS’s boxed-in format (found footage) to a wider lens of the digital world, capturing past and present in two distinct formats as well as capturing the past that isn’t glossy, pretty, and is an inescapable prison where the walls, the horizontal pillars, are closing in on the world.  Appearances, no matter how apt to the subject, do not give the movie soul and “Snuff Tapes” misses that poignant shock value target with poorly written characters and a misaligned connect-the-dots investigation that doesn’t make much sense.  Ibarra examination of the evidence, or really lack thereof, points to one man, but like a cheating slacker in high school, she does not show her work to come up with that result.  Instead, she repeats, at least in a couple of instances, her gut knows she has the right man.  In Viedma’s world, a gut feeling is factual evidence for stringing someone up to face judgement.  In reality, that’s a severe boo-boo case of miscalculation that would get you jail time.  Circumstantial street justice on little-to-no proof separates the empathy from what an audience is supposed feel fired up against an unspoken truth and gives them satisfaction in a just cause to see the obliteration of scum from the face of the Earth. In the first half, “Snuff Tapes” is undeniably graphic and cuts deep with a veridical, degenerate villain, but falters with a lazy second half approach and gratuitous revenge.

MVD Visual in association with Danse Macabre and Jinga Films release “Snuff Tapes” on a North American DVD release. The region free DVD is presented in a VHS format of 1.33:1 when looking cassette camera lens with the rest of the film in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. As expected, the VHS quality has semblance of overuse and age with a fuzzy display and muted, boxy sound. Outside of that, the picture quality is not much better in reconstituting a playback on lower end of the DVD spectrum – approx. 3-5 Mbps. Compression artefacts are heavily present with poor clarity around the edging and blacks shimmer and appear blotchy. The lossy Spanish language Dolby Digtial 5.1 Surround Sound loses some of it’s fidelity in the compression but is the overall highlight amongst the DVD’s A/V scorecard; however, the subtitle transcription is the worst I’ve seen in quite some time with duplicated segments, spelling errors, and a timing that equates to a microsecond blip of dialogue on some occasions. The release comes with another version of the film as the sole bonus feature with an entire VHS 1.33:1 (4:3) VHS Cut for an immersive effect. As always, snuff features can be difficult to digest but they are becoming more and more prevalent and popular in a highly accessible home video market and director, Vito Garcia Viedma, tries his creative hand at creating disturbing content only to defile the genre with a subpar entry sullied by deficient storytelling.

Ready to be Recorded?  “Snuff Tapes” now available at Amazon.com!

Its Just Not Any Evil Film. Its “A Serbian Film” review!


Milos, an aging porn star, struggles to provide for his wife and son. Though still working here and there with mediocre gigs, Milos longs for the glory days as the stud every starlet desires for a scene with, but for Milos, his family comes first and foremost. When an admiring former colleague offers him a meet and greet with a provocative director presenting a contract that would set his family stable for life, Milos assures himself doing the right thing along with the permission from his wife. He meets with Vukmir who captivates with progress pornography art, a new age of adult material, that will be novel and exciting that’s enshrouded with obscurities about who exactly the seasoned star is performing with and what exactly he is supposed to do in this project. What unravels before him is Vukmir’s mad vision that not only breaks every law and moral fiber know to mankind’s sexual nature, it completely obliterates the rules toward sexual deviances in an underground criminal industry that banks on the wealthy’s sordid tastes.

A long time has this reviewer been patiently waiting for the opportunity to screen Srdan Spasojevic’s written and directed multi-country banned film, “A Serbian Film.” Also known as “Srpski Film” in Serbia, the 2010 exploitation that features substantially graphic material with themes of necrophilia, pedophilia, and snuff rarely finds a suitable medium for an uncut presentation as Spasojevic’s feature consistently, and perhaps rightfully so, goes under the governing censorship board’s scalpel to selectively trim the excessive violence, the crude depiction of children, and all the other shocking material that’s rammed unwillingly into your backside. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how one perceives artful censorship, the most accessible copy of “A Serbian Film” has limited cuts that total approximately one minute worth of footage left on the cutting room floor to just eek one out from the ratings’ club. Though listed on the DVD back cover as unrated, this cut will be the one reviewed below from U.S. distributors Invincible Pictures and MVDVisual.

How does an actor run with a performance that incorporates vile and degrading perversive qualities and circumstances upon a character? I don’t know and I don’t know how, but somehow Srdjan Todorovic killed the performance as Milos. Todorovic’s veteran filmography credits establish him as a natural switch between characterizations and choking up on the reigns of each facet to achieve maximum reaction. Milos is a physically challenging role with many difficult scenes and Todorovic found inspiration out of thin air; I’m sure the Yugoslavian born actor needed a months’ worth of showers to remove the disgust from off his flesh when the film wrapped. Another complex character is Marko, Milos’ dangerously envious cop brother who chomps at the bit for Milos’ sexual longevity, stellar porn career, and his gorgeous wife. Slobodan Bestic could have passed for a Serbian Hugh Jackman from “Swordfish,” complete with little dangly earring. Bestic’s performance is unnerving, haunting, and downright salacious that waves in and out of a potentially dangerous man with a hankering for carnal informalities. Speaking of which, Vikmur epitomizes the very definition of being a lunatic. The lavish filmmaker has grandeur style with repugnant tastes in content. Sergej Trifunovic puts on the shiny shoes and fancy suits to become the venomous underground kingpin with a torrent of tasteless videos and the “Next” actor really plays the bad guy well, really does a showmanship disenfranchising Milos and those that love him their ability to enjoy free will. The remaining cast include Jelena Gavrilovic, Katarina Zutic, Luka Mijatovic, Miodrag Krcmarik, and Andela Nenadovic.

A unforeseen aspect of “A Serbian Film” that rings surprising is the engrained story of an extremely fallible hero. Srdan Spasojevic proved shocking, exploitation horror doesn’t have to be completely allegorically benign and the filmmaker has even mentioned that his film is a composite piece of abusive power from authoritative figures forcing people against their will, as if spellbound, to do atrocious acts and while these acts might not be atrocious as rape, sexual assault on children, or using an erect penis to kill someone, Spasojevic creates moments where his statements are affirmed. The transition between act 2 and act 3 backs Vukmir against a wall, trying to salvage his star’s contract by debating material that’s good for all. Spasojevic hones in on Vukmir’s raving soapbox speech to Milos about how he and his company govern the country and how they are the backbone of his of the sovereign Sebrian nation, the true delusion of power and the wool over the sheep’s eyes as the action point.

Invincible Pictures, the same folks who distributed Kevin Smith’s “Yoga Hosers,” and MVDVisual present “A Serbian Film” as a re-release onto DVD home video. Presented in a widescreen, 16:9 aspect ratio, the image warrants no mention of issues as a clean picture in a dry-yellowish tint while still maintaining some natural lighting and depth in the gruesome details pop every sensory nodes. Banding problems are faint at best and the edits are what they are sense the film is slightly trimmed anyway. The Serbian language 2.0 stereo mix pounds with a pulsating electronic-rock score and shows the ranging with the screaming, whimpering, crying, and the sloshing of blood and semen fluids. The English subtitles are error-free and have hardline text that make reading them more easily. Though usually bonus features are preferred, in this case, just having “A Serbian Film” alone on this DVD release didn’t feel necessary to have the share the film with the bonus features, creating an intimate moment between viewer and feature. “A Serbian Film” sears a glowing hot lasting impression right into the mind and soul, twisted and perverse in an unfathomable immoral compass too messed up beyond the most descriptive of descriptions. “A Serbian Film” is best viewed alone, without food, and with your sensitivity left outside.

Must-by “A Serbian Film” on DVD!

A Serbian Film: The most shocking film out there?

(Above) Srdjan Todorovic

(Above) Srdjan Todorovic

This 2010 film is brought to us by Srdjan Spasojevic and will shock even the most hard-core of horror fans. The main character is a man named Milos (Srdan Todorovic) who is a retired porn star struggling in the cash department. When he is offered a job that will change his financial status he takes it. He believes he is going to be the star of a reality based pornographic art film but is instead projected into a twisted sexual world of snuff films. Right from the get-go things are creepy, with the first shoot taking place in an abandoned children’s hospital. He decides to leave the shoot after being shown a clip of a new-born infant being penetrated. The director alarmingly calls this new-born porn.  However, Milos is too late, after waking up with no memory he soon realises he has done sick things unconsciously. The film goes on to show viewers horrific scenes throughout. During one scene a woman gives birth on-screen rather graphically. She is assisted by a big bald man and the baby is pushed out and into his hands. He then proceeds to pull down his underwear and rape the screaming new-born. Another scene shows a man who has been injected with large doses of a powerful sexual stimulant. He is anally raping  his own young child – who is bleeding  profusely from his anus. This film grotesquely covers multiple taboo subjects; numerous types of rape, incest, new-born porn, pedophilia, necrophilia and more. All this and still this film is audaciously considered art to some people. This is without a doubt the most shocking film to exist, I have never heard of one worse. Although you must create your own opinion about this film I would not recommend it to anyone. I have no idea of the long-term effects of trauma but I’m sure everyone would prefer to avoid flashbacks of this!

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