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Helter Skelter

A movie directed by Tom Gries

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"someone should cut your head off"......Manson

  • May 27, 2000
Pros: They caught and captured the snake

Cons: Manson is still alive

Murder, mayhem, sex, drugs, madness .... some of the words I grew up with. As a young bride I was never touched by these incarnate ideals, later I would become familiar with all of them.

In the far distant lands of California an insect crept into the minds of the young. Often idealized and often feared, he nevertheless became God and savior to those looking for an alternative lifestyle. In another time, another life, he may not have been wrong, but in this time and this life he was not a God but the Devil. Anyone that believes otherwise should be rotting in the cell with him.

How could this cretin affect my life or my lifestyle? Just by his very presence on this good Earth he took an otherwise innocent culture and turned it into a twisted evil thing. Innocents previously romping freely in their yards were now kept locked away in their homes, we looked at ourselves and our neighbors in a new light and it wasn't friendly. No longer did we leave our doors unlocked nor stroll blissfully through our streets.

This insect was known as Charles Manson and the fact that he remains alive, kept locked in a cell, does not alleviate these fears. His cruel and undeserved acts have rippled out so that even after thirty years his name brings terror to my soul and fear into my heart.

Did I know any of these people? No, I didn't, but that does not mean that their stories did not affect me. As with the death of Kennedy, I can remember exactly what I was doing when these crimes were released to the public. In fact, years later when I visited California, I drove past the home of Sharon Tate without knowing it at the time and a chill passed over me - even more so when I found out. Perhaps you think this is just a twisted mind doing what it does best, but it is true and my son was there to witness it.

Charles Manson, may he rot in Hell, was a persuasive dream weaver. Looking into the vacant minds of his followers, filling them with mind altering drugs, playing on their mental weaknesses and lack of self-esteem, lowering them into his mindless life style - changing the course of history forever. This self styled Messiah draws his followers into the world of murder - some discovered and some only implied - ending the lives of Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Stephen Parent, Voytek Frykowski, Jay Sebring, unborn baby Paul Polanski, Leno LaBianca and Rosemary LaBianca.

Vincent Bugliosi dedicated his life to finding the murderers of these people and bringing them to justice. The fact that he made money off the deal kind of rankles me, but this is America and these things happen. This movie is based on the novel by Bugliosi and gives a detailed look into the demented minds of Manson and his followers. In addition, Mr. Bugliosi did not pull punches and showed just how inept the investigating police were as well as others involved with this case. Fortunately, Bugliosi did not stop until he brought this animal to trial - unfortunately it did not end in the death of Manson - YES - I believe in the death penalty!

Manson is often portrayed as unstable or insane but I believe this calculating beast was aware of every move he made, every choice he made and every idea he had. Granted, according to reports, he never directly committed any of the murders involved HERE but he was responsible for them just the same. There are some that believe these followers made their own choices but looking back now and realizing we fully accept the fact that people can be brainwashed, I believe they were simply being an extension of this devious subhuman.

To have been a part of these times was powerful. To those viewing the film that were not alive then it probably seems a poorly made, somewhat undefined movie. Many of the scenes are jerky and underexposed, the acting now seems campy and put on, the deaths no longer sensational, the music blaring. Used to the more stylized releases of deaths as in Matrix, any Bond movie, and such winners as Halloween and the Friday series, we are hardened to real death. We aren't affected anymore because it has become commonplace.

Sitting in your living room and seeing this beautiful woman on television and her unborn baby slaughtered for no reason, Stephen Parent, a teenager visiting a friend never to return home, and the other members of the Tate household - all dead because one corrupt a$$ decided he needed a little thrill - continued the next night with two other innocents, the LaBlanca's. No reason other than glory.

A remarkable acting group in this release with Steve Railsback playing Manson a little too well for his own good. Nancy Wolfe as Susan Atkins, Marilyn Burns as Linda Kasabian, Christina Hart as Patricia Krenwinkel, Cathey Paine as Leslie Van Houten, Rudy Ramos as Danny DeCarlo, Sondra Blake as Ronnie Howard and a fantastic performance by George DiCenzo as Vincent Bugliosi.

Not the best made movie but terrifying just the same. Like Ted Bundy or Cary Strayner, these evil monsters visit us every day in our lives and we don't know it. They serve us at restaurants, they shop at our malls, they sit drinking in our clubs, they are the gas station attendant, the school teacher, the minister, the person next door - one day they break and destruction follows their path. The fact that Manson was born in Cincinnati and spent most of his life in jail in Ohio makes me just a tad bit afraid ....


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More Helter Skelter reviews
review by . July 27, 2010
posted in WHAT CAN I SAY?
      HELTER SKELTER      Every one knows what happened with the whole Manson family thing and every one knows the story, so why would you see this film? The answer is with out a doubt for the lead performance by Jeremy Davies, he deserved an Oscar in my opinion TV movie or not. For those who do not remember there was a film of the same name done much earlier but it focused more on the trial as this one focuses more on the family. This is actually a really …
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Susi Dawson ()
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About this movie


This made-for-television, graphic docu-drama of the grisly Tate-La Bianca murders in Hollywood, California was based on Vince Bugliosi's novel. Over the course of the film's three hours, it chronicles the events that led a group of impressionable young women to become cold-blooded killers under the authority of notorious maniac Charles Manson.
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Director: Tom Gries
Release Date: 1976
MPAA Rating: Unrated
DVD Release Date: Warner Home Video (April 20, 2004)
Runtime: 1hr 59min
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