A grainy screen stared at the discreet group of people selected to view the mysteriously delivered DVD, at The Rangmanch a fairly unknown film festival in Bangalore, India. Fifteen minutes later, the audience cringed in horror as they watched the disturbing murder of a young Filipino girl after a series of the most perverse sexual acts.

A self-confessed porn film addict from Kuwait, a country where the possession of pornographic material is illegal, admits to owning a large collection of torture porn. But he says the ultimate ‘high’ would be to watch the girl being killed as the climax approaches. He claims it is the control that the men have over the women in these movies that turns him on.

Snuff films that shrouded part of the entertainment industry, the existence of which has been denied time and again, only for the rumours to resurface. Although legal organisations across the world have gone on record to deny the existence of snuff films, are snuff films merely urban legends or is there, actually a secret network distributing these said films to influential aficionados?

Yograj Murthy, a witness in the Bangalore film festival recounts the horror with which he watched the onscreen murder.

He said: “It was one of the scariest things I had seen. It looked unbelievably real and there was a note with the DVD which said, ‘Exclusive live footage’. I hope to God they were lying.”

Are they Real

This is not the first instance of a snuff film or a supposed snuff film doing the rounds. The most convincing one was discovered and reported by famous Hollywood actor, Charlie Sheen.  However Japanese authorities had already started investigating the said film, Flower of Flesh and Blood, and the makers were forced to prove that the murders were faked. As difficult as it might be to believe that fellow human beings are capable of deriving pleasure from actual murder, the pressing truth is that serial killers and murderers exist. They are not urban legends, so there is no reason why we should deny the existence of snuff films.

Hing, a Chinese film studies student at City University London, has based his research on the possible existence of snuff films. He is of the opinion that people simply find it easier to dismiss snuff films as urban legend, rather than explore the overwhelming ramifications of this very real industry.

There is a reason these films and rumours have persisted. Recently two youngsters were caught in Germany over a video featuring the brutal murder of a teenage girl. However as with most other cases, they were released due to lack of evidence. Hing explains that most of the actresses in these movies are prostitutes or sexual slaves from countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Cambodia and so on. Since their well-wishers are either absent or not influential, their disappearance does not create any major ripples.

This is not the first instance were murder has been filmed and distributed. Several serial killers have caught on video the torture that they put their victims through. An infamous serial killer duo also had audio recordings of the actual murders. And these have found a way into the commercial market. The frenzy surrounding the Saddam Hussein execution and the Daniel Pearl slaughter, also are indication of the baser human tendencies that act as catalyst for such productions. There was also a video of a horse stomping a man to death, while a crowd of on looking men, masturbated.

Al Goldstein, the publisher of Screw magazine, has a standing offer of $1 million for anyone who can come up with a commercially sold snuff film. This offer has been in standing for a couple of years, but not surprisingly no one has come forward to claim it. Hing squashes the expectation or rather the hope that this might mean that there are no such films in existence.

He said: “It is not because there are no such films. There are two reasons why no one has laid claim to the prize money. “He elaborates that the primary one is that this is illegal. Anyone in the possession of a snuff film is an accessory to murder. “Then there is the added reason that a lot more money comes into the hands of people who do make such films. There are some very rich people willing to pay for such entertainment.” he said.