A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin: Carlo Rambaldi was the special effects man responsible for E.T.; he was also involved in the notorious horror flick A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Lucio Fulci’s 1971 LSD-fueled crime story. In the film’s most infamous scene a sanatorium revealed four vivisected dogs, their chests open and their hearts still beating. Rambaldi’s effects were so convincing that an Italian court charged Fulci with animal cruelty, and the director faced a two-year prison sentence. The crew members testified that no dogs were vivisected in the making of the film, and Rambaldi trotted in the animatronic creatures, made from rubber and coyote skins. The charges were dropped, and the film excised the dog scene. As for the actual prop dogs, Rimbaldi supposedly destroyed them, finding they evoked distasteful memories.
Cannibal Holocaust: Ruggero Deodato’s 1980 Cannibal Holocaust is probably the most famous. This footage film went into the Amazon to film cannibal tribes. The documentary style of the film and the employment of real indigenous people as actors led to speculation that deaths were real. Following rumors that Cannibal Holocaust was a genuine snuff film, the film was confiscated 10 days after its premiere and Deodato was charged first with obscenity and later murder. Once again, cast and crew members had to appear before an Italian court to prove that their film’s special effects were just that. While the human deaths were staged, Cannibal Holocaust did contain footage of animals slaughtered for the film (including a monkey being beheaded with a machete). The court found Deodato, the producers and the United Artists guilty of obscenity and animal cruelty, giving them each a four-month suspended sentence. Torture porn director Eli Roth showed the film to a group of remote Amazon villagers—and they found it hysterically funny. Italians. Sheesh. No sense of humour at all. Diablo!
Guinea Pig: Flowers of Flesh and Blood: Manga artist Hideshi Hino originally produced the ultra-bloody, bad taste Guinea Pig film as an adaptation of his own horror comics. The films featured scenes of torture, mutilation, and murder that are so convincing that they’ve been repeatedly mistaken for genuine snuff. Guinea Pig gained particular notoriety in Japan in 1989, when one of the films was discovered in the home of famed serial killer Miyazaki Tsutomu. But most Americans learned about the gore movies in 1991, when none other than that paragon of clear thinking Mr. Charlie Sheen, (winning) convinced that Flowers of Flesh and Blood depicted a real murder contacted the FBI. The FBI launched an investigation but dropped the case after watching Making of Guinea Pig, a documentary that explained the technical effects behind the first three films. (losing).
Snuff: This might be the only film on the list in which the marketers tried to convince the public that it was true. Low-budget film distributor Allan Shackleton had a turkey of a film on his hands, Michael Findlay and Roberta Findlay’s Charles Manson-inspired Slaughter. Shackleton removed the film’s credits and added a new ending. After watching Slaughter, the audience would see what appeared to be behind-the-scenes footage from the film. As the crew members begin to leave, several of them suddenly hold down a female crew member and brutally murder her, finally pulling her intestines from her body.wasn’t bad enough, two crew members are heard talking in background, one shouting that they’ve run out of film, and the second demanding to know if he got the whole bloody scene. Once he confirms that he did, the film ends. The movie was marketed with the tagline, “The film that could only be made in South America…where Life is CHEAP!” New York District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau investigated whether the film featured a real murder. Morgenthau had the police track down the actress who played the murdered crew woman and announced that she was, indeed, alive and intact, intestines and all.
New Terminal Hotel: This direct-to-video horror flick, one of actor Corey Haim’s final films, (how proud he must have been), earns the rather distinguished award for being Most Convincing Gore Setting. Hotel wasn’t viewed by an audience. Firefighters were putting out a fire at the George Washington Hotel in Washington, Pa., when they entered a blood-splattered hotel room littered with alcohol bottles. Police Chief J.R. Blyth called the scene the most grisly he’d seen in his 35 years on the job. Detectives spent eight hours of overtime investigating before they realized the room was merely a movie scene and the hotel owner left the room splattered with fake blood in case the crew needed to do reshoots. How long the owner was planning to wait, given that Haim passed away several months before the faux bloody room was discovered, he didn’t say. Ding-dong.