8 MM (1999)—Snuff & Stuff


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On this week’s annotated deep dive, The Cultists Present Joel Schumacher’s '8MM' (1999)— a classic tale about one man's quest for that holy grail of cinematic legend: The Snuff Film. Released at the brink of the new millennium, a time in which porn was just beginning to carve out a place for itself on the nascent mysterious frontier of the World Wide Web, and, somewhat surprisingly, still legally strictly regulated in its material distribution offline, 8MM serves as a peculiar preservation of a time in which hardcore porn was really something one had to go looking for. Largely panned in 1999 by critics and audiences alike as violent, sleazy, and hard to stomach, modern watchers now find this quaint alien world of the 1990s "underground" pornscape humorous and perplexing. London and Benji try to bridge this gap, situating the film in the context of the very specific time and place in which it was made, which, when combined with a contemporary reflexive lens, might allow us to now look back and appreciate the rich texture of this film for the curious time capsule that it is.

(Second half deep dives include: the shifting status of “hardcore” porn and the often surprising legal regulations of its distribution; the differences between Andrew Kevin Walker’s original screenplay and the final film; and the origin, legends and history of “Snuff” films.)

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