Gallery Update – Snapshot (1979)

New HD caps and a fur fashion film edit are now available for the Snapshot review and gallery page. Thrill, as you can make out actual hair detail on all of Chantal Contouri’s many fur coats!

Move along, nothing to see here.

Positive Queer Rep in Snapshot (1979)?

After finishing the edits, I searched around a bit because something struck me about Chantal Contouri’s character, Madeline. She is pretty decent queer representation for a 1979 Ozploitation thriller that tried to bank on the release of Carpenter’s Halloween with alternate titles (despite not even being a “slasher” or really much of a “horror movie” in any significant sense).

Madeline is a lesbian, and she has the classic lesbian problem: a straight girl crush. (Also, nicotine addiction, but that’s not exclusively a lesbian problem.) Madeline’s suggestion that her cute, naive, very straight hairdresser Angela get into modeling is the engine that drives the rest of the plot. Madeline subsequently becomes a mentor/protector to Angela in the “seedy” world of modeling (which, yeah, she got her into in the first place.)

Angela is her straight girl crush, and maybe that makes Madeline’s motives less than completely “pure,” but the point is, she’s really only supportive and helpful to Angela throughout the film. She gives her excellent advice, knees hands-y assholes in the nuts, and (spoiler alert) straight-up pancakes a dude with an ice cream truck who’s about to kill Angie. Find yourself a friend who’ll do a justifiable homicide for you.

In a critical moment, a tipsy Madeline confesses her affections and gives Angie a very tame, but yes, non-consensual, kiss.

Chantal Contouri kisses Sigrid Thornton in Snapshot, 1979
Madeline Kisses Angela

What does Madeline do when she is shut down, hard, by Angela? She gets up and leaves in a manner that Contouri effectively communicates with a combination of hurt, regret, and the sort of self-loathing that no doubt comes from sober Madeline’s voice in the back of her head going, “what did you expect, dumbass?”

A note of kudos to the filmmakers, who had the option to go for cheap titillation but did not have Angie be drunk enough to excuse a tawdry softcore scene then reject Madeline in the morning. 

They meet one more time before the film’s climax, where Madeline is now aloof to her. Angela graciously suggests they are still friends and gives Madeline a peck on the cheek after telling her she’s flying off with a cishet dude but totally non-sexual. Maddy still delivers some helpful advice before saying what she presumes is the final goodbye.

Chantal Contouri, Snapshot, 1979
Time to get over the straight girl, Maddie.

The film eventually advances back to the “beginning,” where it opens with the aftermath of a fire and a burned body the audience could assume is Angela. We’ve already seen Madeline arrive and call out for her. This is another point in her favor, as it removes Madeline from being someone the audience is meant to suspect as “the killer” through the film. This subverts the expectation that “the predatory lesbian did it.” Not only because she could not have done it, but because Madeline isn’t a predatory lesbian, certainly not in the less-than-subtle cinematic sense of the term.

In the end, Madeline, the not-predatory lesbian, is the one who saves Angie, the straight girl who shut her down. If Madeline is guilty of anything, it’s a severe misunderstanding of police procedure when the last line of the film suggests that she’ll help Angie catch her plane while stepping over the still-warm corpse of the guy she just ran down with an ice-cream truck.

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