Helter Skelter 1976
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Helter Skelter (1976) (DVD)
The investigation of two horrific mass murders leads to the capture and trial of the psychotic pseudo-hippie Charles Manson and his Family.]]>
Based on the bestselling book by Vincent Bugliosi, the two-part TV movie Helter Skelter is a clinical but often chilling recount of the arrest and trial of Charles Manson and his cult for a pair of horrific murders in 1969. Character actor George DiCenzo is a bit dry as prosecutor Bugliosi, who must patch together a series of far-flung clues to incarcerate Manson for the murder spree, which claimed the life of actress Sharon Tate, among others; he and the rest of the capable cast (which includes Marilyn Burns from the '74 Texas Chainsaw Massacre) are completely overshadowed by Steve Railsback's disturbing performance as Manson. Railsback is the main reason to revisit this feature, which shocked many during its network run in 1976, but now seems methodical in its pacing and direction. Warner Bros.'s DVD is the longer 184-minute version of the film, which should please viewers accustomed to the 119-minute rebroadcast cut; otherwise, the disc is disappointingly supplement-free. --Paul Gaita
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Although I was a small child during the "Manson thing" I do recall the feel of the era and this film captures that as well as the essence of the Vincent Bugliosi book, "Helter Skelter".Steve Railsback as "Charles Manson" brings to life the kind of charisma and intensity that Manson utilized to mesmerize the members of his "family" in 1969. George DiCenzo does an epic impersonation of "Vincent Bugliosi", the lead prosecutor in the Manson case (and author of the book). Nancy Wolf as "Susan Atkins" brings to life the psychopathic hold Manson had on this followers. The film captures all of the subtle nuances that could easily be missed when moving from novels to the silver screen. In this cut of the film (leaving out the more graphic scenes and includes no nudity), the murder scenes and photographic evidence are minimal, which does take away from the intensity of the crime itself. What it brings however, is well worth watching. There is another version of Helter Skelter made in 2003. This film, made in 1976, has the clothing of the era down pat as well as having been made just a few years after the crime itself. This film as well as the Bugliosi novel are the "must sees" if you are interested in any way to Manson lore. It is not about the murders but is about the end of an era. The Manson case brought about changes to the social scene that IS the 1960's. Rather than viewed as "peace and love" the hippy scene was tarnished with the murderous rage that Manson and his followers brought to the world. The story includes all of the components of today's "reality TV", movie stars, heiresses, producers and hangers on as well as psychopaths and mesmerized teens. The Manson era ended the 60's and our collective innocence and began the fascination of crime and mind control. A must see!
The movie as a whole was excellent! I'd read Vincent Bugliosi's book: Helter Skelter firstand then ordered this movie but you could basically read along with this movie. I love when movies follow books that closely, especially when based on true stories and I've never watched a movie that followed the book so closely.