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Helter Skelter (1976)
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on June 1, 2017
Oh My God, if I didn't know any better I would have thought that Charles Manson himself starred in this movie. The actor who played Charles Manson played the role so well it gave me chills in certain scenes and the same for the women who played Manson's "family members."
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.
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on April 15, 2016
I remember watching this movie when it first came out. I was in sixth grade when the Manson Family murdered those poor victims and especially sad was the murder of the beautiful and gentle Sharon Tate and her unborn child. This movie scared me to death when it first came out. A true story such as this is much more scary to me than any horror movie. I think just the tragedy of the needless waste of life is heartbreaking too. Steve Railsback (sp?) was perfect to play the role of Charlie too I though the actor playing the prosecutor was a good choice too.
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on August 20, 2004
Its been more than 35 years since the Tate-LaBianca murders and the facts of those crimes may not shock people too young to remember that brief period of history or those so inured to mindless violence through the media since 1969. But to those of us who lived through those days, especially in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, the potency of the crimes and this remarkable tele-film still reverberate today.

The movie covers an amazing amount of factual ground and does justice to Vincent Bugliosi's massive, definitive account of the Manson Family and the era in which he operated. As a movie, it's a classic example of mixing documentary style dialogue with first-rate characterizations. Though Steve Railsback's frighteningly realistic performance allegedly typecast him, this actually adds to the impact of his superb performance--it was simply TOO good. George DiCenzo is appropriately business-like as Bugliosi at the start, then slowly grows more impassioned and frustrated as the travails of the justice system wind before him. All the "Manson Girl" roles are performed well, Marilyn Burns is poignant as Linda Kasabian, but special kudos should go to Nancy Wolfe as Susan Atkins. At the least, she should have gotten a supporting actress Emmy nomination, if not the award, for her stunning depiction of the robotic, demented Manson slave who was perhaps more frightening than the leader himself. Also noteworthy are Sondra Blake (yes, Robert's ex)as the brave Ronnie Howard and young Jon Gries as the caretaker initially suspected of the Cielo drive murders. All in all, this film stands the test of time and is even more impressive next to the sickly "reimagined" version that played on early 2004 television. Some classics don't need remaking. Just revisiting. "Helter Skelter" stands in this pantheon.
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on July 1, 2010
It's fascinating to read other viewpoints about this movie, but mostly because everyone notices what I did - Steve Railsback. I've never seen any actor in any role portray a character better than this. Railsback was so good that it's almost surreal. His 'look', his hair, tone of voice, body shape and size, even the eerie shine in his eyes - so close to Charley that when I saw Railsback in various other roles years later I didn't even recognize him. Then, when you read Bugliosi's vastly detailed book, today's version more than 500 pages, then you will be equally surprised at how accurate the film is. TV films are notorious for being underfunded, which is the reason why events at Barker's Ranch were left out, but in this case the producers were so familiar with Bugliosi's account that it isn't a necessity to read the book. In just 3 hours you get the full story and full impact of a totally bizarre, inexplicable murder case that wasn't closed until 2 years and 2 months after it happened. Top it off with Steve Railsback uncannily portaying Manson, as well as Nancy Wolfe and the other supporting cast performing wonderfully, and "Helter Skelter" is incontestably one of the best docudramas ever made.
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on August 28, 2007
After 33 years since this movie first came out, it still has the power to scare the hell out of you!

Steve Railsback stars as a picture-perfect "Man's Son." Charlie's whole trip is laid out here, from the Creepy Crawls to him on a jail bunk, with shaven head singing: "You can feed the world with my Garbage Dump." And the hate stare he gives at the end is the scariest part of the whole movie!

Of all the websites out there now seeking to glorify Manson and make him a urban legend, this movie will ground you with it's "Dragnet" style portrayal of the savage animalistic murders and the three ring circus court proceedings to prosecute that animal and his Garbage People.

Like in the old television series "Dragnet,"..."Just the facts, ma-am!"

There seems to be in the public mind a battle over this version of Helter Skelter and the 2004 TV movie of the same name. I think they compliment each other. This one tells of how it was done and how the "family" were convicted. The new version gets you more into the mind of Manson and WHY it was done and WHY young college student runaways became robotic murders on the "suggestions" of Manson.

Interesting enough, of the major killers, all of them except Manson now recognize the horror of what they have done and take responsibility upon themselves. Of the original "Family," only Squeaky, Sandy and Bobby Beausoleil are unrepentant and as hard core as always.

For those out there who look upon Manson as a role model, WAKE UP! There are millions of others who went through hell as a kid who became a inspiration of good to the world! Manson deliberately heaped all his bad karma upon himself!

"That sums it up in one big lump!"
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on July 28, 2015
I watch this movie every time it comes on tv so I finally broke down and bought it. It basically follows the book of the same name by prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi and is told from that point of view. I was born around the time that they were sentenced and I think the movie appeals more to people my age and older. I've noticed on several movie forums that some younger people don't seem to care for it as much, but to me I've never seen a better movie on the subject.
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on December 23, 2012
I remember watching this on tv when I was a kid. It was so cool and so scary to us. We talked about it at school and it was a true boogy man kind of story. I've always been interested in mystery and true crime. Trying to figure out who and why. This story is one of the most bizarre in American history. It has so many levels, twists and turns. I really love this movie and it takes me back to seeing it when I was a kid. It was scary and so interesting. I still like this movie a lot. And reccomend it if you are interested in this story. Here are my top 5 picks for books about Manson. This subject has so many twists, turns and side stories happening. It's just an incredible story. My picks in order on this subject are - 1) The Family, 2) Shadow Over Santasusana, 3) Manson: In His Own Words, 4) Will You Die For Me?, 5) Helter Skelter.
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on May 24, 2016
When I first saw this movie I was 12 years old ,now that I have the movie right now at the age 41 years old it's still interesting to watch, wow that Charles Mason was and is no joke.
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on March 15, 2017
Made from Vincent Bugliosi's book. As he was the lead prosecutor, he knew all the details of this famous trial. A very well-made series
The actor playing Manson was excellent. Able to portray the eerie craziness of Manson perfectly.
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on May 17, 2017
I've read the book multiple times, the courtroom and interview dialogue in the movie is verbatim to film. This is an excellent movie for those too lazy to read the book, although the book is (as in most instances) much more in-depth.
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