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3.2 out of 5 stars
The Manson Family (Unrated 2-Disc Special Edition)
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2005
Format: DVD
While it took forever for this film to be finished, the question is if it was worth the wait. My answer is that it was. "The Manson Family" is a very interesting view of the events that preceded the infamous killings and how they culminated in the very murders themselves. Using a multiple time phase structure, the film moves back and forth between the past and present of the main characters involved in the murders. This results in a story that tries to show the killers as being "removed" from the actual crime, as if they were not really there and they comment on it in the third person. Essentially exactly what they do when going up for parole hearings. The film is very rough, scenes are filled with scratches and other defects that bring a documentary feel to the proceedings, as if the Manson Family themselves were behind the camera. The culmination of the film with the multiple murders presents them in a highly graphic and factual way which is to the benefit of the presentation. While all the talk and posturing was peace and love, to see the horrendous murders truly puts things in perspective. This is a great movie for people into true crime stories and for those looking for a realistic portrayal of the Manson story. The DVD also contains an excellent documentary concerning no budget, renegade filmmaking. This documentary interviews many directors of these types of film and is very insightful into the passions of these people. Other extras include a revealing interview with Manson himself which, if nothing else, indicates why he will die in prison. I would recommend this film to people who are fans of independent filmmakers and true crime stories.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
The Manson Family is a film that was 16 years in the making and what a result! Van Bebber and company did a spectacular job in displaying what life might have been like within the Manson family community and as accurately as possible showing the how and why the crimes were committed. It plays out as a psychedelic pseudo docudrama with great acting and great script. The film also has a 70ish true grindhouse feel which helped as it took the viewer back to the days of free love and flower power of the late sixties. the print was a work in progress as the Director took the film to various film festivals until the director finally felt he had a good cut of the film. Well, good became great as this film has attained a cult following. Phil Anselmo (The voice of Satan)is featuring the film at the Housecore Horror film festival. I highly recommend a this film to those that are into true crime and horror. As with the Manson family, there Is very little held back ( with exception of the Tate murder which the Director purposely did) for the viewer to behold. Overall, a sold effort by a solid film maker, Highly Recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Jim Van Bebber crafted an unheralded classic with "Deadbeat at Dawn" back in the 80s, and here with "The Manson Family", he's nearly done it again. Beginning production towards the end of the 80s and shot sporadically throughout the years until 2003, "The Manson Family" is an uncompromising, graphic, and unforgettable take on the notorious Charles Manson and his group of followers. Shot in a pseudo-documentary style and reminiscent of a news program expose', and featuring a cast of mostly amateur actors (who are all close to perfect in their roles), "The Manson Family" is strangely magnetic nonetheless, and despite its otherwise off-putting content, you can't help but keep watching. I'm glad that Severin Films released this handsome Blu-ray set of the film, featuring a horde of special features including an insightful commentary from Van Bebber and an interview with Pantera and DOWN frontman Phil Anselmo (who helped provide music and is fittingly the voice of Satan in the film). "The Manson Family" definitely isn't for everyone, but if any of the above sounds like it's up your alley, check it out. You won't regret it.
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33 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2005
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Jim Vanbebber proves once again, without a doubt, that he is the baddest mother(...)in indie horror. My Sweet Satan kicked (...), but it was short and it left viewers wanting more. The Manson Family is his greatest achievement to date. It's surely not for everyone, but those not afraid to look real horror in the eye will love this movie. In a time when the term, Underground, is as cliched as words like "alternative" or "hardcore", Vanbebber proves that minuscule budgeted films can be vital and be as effective as anything done on any budget. I watched the Unrated DVD (natch!) last night and I haven't been able to get it out of my head all day today. This movie is a masterpiece.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2005
Format: DVD
I saw this film months ago on a east european release. The film has been trying to get distribution and finished for some time so I grabbed the opportunity to watch it. Van Bebber has done a stirling job in capturing the Manson phenomena and has created a unique,chilling and satisfying cinema experience. The film is influenced by 60's trip cinema, inevitable to reflect the times that these horrendous crimes were committed. The budget that Bebber was working to adds to the creativity of the flick and builds more atmosphere than a thousand big budget productions. The murders are presented graphically without compromise which further illustrates the extent these people had become removed from their earlier hippy pretensions to savage merciless murderers. Very well shot and edited the film will not appeal to everyone as it does not follow a traditional linear narrative. The documentary feel of the film works well which further replicates the heavy media association that the crimes originally had. The Manson trial was the end of the summer of love and I think Bebber illustrates this by the film at the end catching fire which is very similar to Two Lane Blacktop a film which also symbolised the end of the sixties. A truly original piece of cinema which will appeal to cinephiles with a wide ranging knowledge of films and the crimes themselves. Everybody has a right to an opinion but the reveiwer who gave this film one star is not saying anything in his reveiw but the fact that he needs to get back to his Troma films. This film is well worth a watch and you well get a lot out of it subtle references to Jim Jones, the celebrity status killers receive through the media. Highly recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2012
Format: DVD
It's sad to think that this movie is based on a true story. If this was merely a work of fiction, I would say this is one of the most powerful, disturbing, and twisted horror movies of all time. But the truth is, as horrible as this it may be, this is one of the best horror movies ever!!!

THE MANSON FAMILY may not be the perfect film, but it is definitly irresistable. The whole movie makes you feel like your on drugs and watching a music video of death. Jim VanBebber deserves the most respect of any filmmaker because he worked for more than 15 years on this movie! That's almost unheard of.

This movie focuses more on the family than just Charlie, because the "family" were the real killers. For once, a movie tells the story in brutally honest detail, there is no clever editing techniques to let you imagine everything that is happening, it's all right there on screen from a few trippy hippies, to a bloody orgy, to the most grusome crimes America has ever seen.

Also, the movie cuts to present times throughout showing the modern kids who idolize the family...very creepy stuff that will scar your mind!!!

This is NOT a movie to be missed!

The special features are also outstanding, including a 1 hour and 15 minute documentary that takes you deeper inside of the film.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2005
Format: DVD
I'm not Roger Ebert or any of your big time "name" movie critics, I'm just a fan of movies. I speak for myself and no one else. I like quirky movies, b grade & alot of other flicks that most people abhor. Now the last thing I want to do is bash anyone elses opinion, but ol' one-star at the bottom of the page is going to be in the minority of people who don't like this movie. Which is also, alas, just an opinion.

I've read quite a bit about the struggles Jim VanBebber had in finishing this flick. And what a flick. It was well worth the wait. Sure, it's trippy & violent, just what you've read. But I believe that it's going to go down in history as one of the best independent movies ever made. If you thought Helter Skelter was the definitive story of Manson, think again. Buy this, rent this. But definitely see this movie. My wife, who simply despises 95% of my collection, watched this with me- after her son and I spoke of it at length- and lo & behold, she liked it, too. I will say this, though, if you're a little weak about seeing graphic violence, drug use & heavy nudity (including simulated sexual acts), don't watch it.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2005
Format: DVD
This movie is certenly not for everybody but many people really like it. Maybe it's because it is a true story about a horrendeaus events. the amaturish acting just adds to the realness and rawness of the film.

It starts with life on the Spahn Ranch as told by Sadie, Pat and Tex, the main killers who are talking to an interviewer through prison. The film builds up and leads us through sex orgies and devilo worship untill things are getting paranoid and crazy. Then it explodes in your face with that climatic violance which is so graphic and horrible.

I watched this film with my father and both of us felt really nervus after the film and I was afraid to leave any windows open. I was laying in bed not able to fall asleep, waiting for drugged out, crazed hippies to burge into my bedroom and drag me out of bed and start by viciously stabbing me again and again. It was horrible.

This film is really good and it shows it like it was and what those terrified victims went through and how crazy things went. This film is bound to leave some people outraged, scared, exited and others simply bored. In my opinion this is splatter cinema at it's best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2014
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
this movie kicks 2013 ''Horror'' movies in the marbles great movie i can recommend it to anyone who loves horror
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Conventional wisdom about the Manson family: Charlie the madman took a bunch of innocent young drifters in 1969 and fed them mountins of
L S D. He was able to convince them of the nobility of his plans, and the girls commited the Tate-Labianca murders on his orders that August.

This has been the story line since LA District Atternoy Vincent Bolgiosi tried the case in 1970 and got convictions. And it made sense--Manson masterminded these killings but the girls carried them out. Bolgisoi needed to prove a conspirisy to convict Manson.

The Manson Family, this film, has a different theroy. These girls were sadistic little wenches to begin with, and the sex and drugs and nonsence 60s rap Charlie fed them only fuled their sociopatic impules. Further, the August killings were not just spawned by hippie underbelly madness. Before Tate Labianca, Manson had killed a Black Panther in a money deal gone wrong, and the murders that summer were part of a scheme to throw authorites off the trail. According to the film, the family also gang raped the wife of the land owner where they had set up camp.

Taken at face value, this changes the implications of the Tate-Labianca butchery. If the family can be seen more as a criminal enterprise then a mystified hippie cult, the real cruelity of their crimes can be viewed in a much starker light.

But director Jim Van Beeber takes this a step further: the film also deals with the Manson acolytes who continued to follow him into the 90s. Here, these young killers in punk rock drag kill a TV reporter working on a documentry about Manson. This reporter summerizes the point of the film, early, saying 'It is all Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. What about the kids who put the knives in the victims."

During these 90s scenes, there is virtually no dialouge between the memebrs of the Manson posee. Implied is that there is little thought put behind their worship of Manson or their own crimes. Their criminality also seems to feed on freekoid sex, drugs, and out and out wierdness that contains no reason or subtance.

Sixties or Nineties, the Manson Family documents the crimes in graphic, horrific fashion. This is probably the most violent film I have ever seen, and I do not go out of my way to avoid violent movies. But, the violence is not gratuitous- to Vanbeeber's credit, he uses the gore of the Manson crimes to deflate the icon myth of Manson.

This set also contains a bonus disc on why this film took almost 20 years to get made. The film making process is fascinating, and so are the stories of the actors--who often worked for free to make the film.
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