More than 30 years after the Manson Family Trial, I read “Helter Skelter.” I was 16 years-old and this true-crime thriller was a magnetic, almost unbelievable melodrama that opened my eyes to the hidden darkness in the universe. An example of the power of the written word–how tedious, dedicated reporting can shape public opinion– “Helter Skelter” was instrumental in my decision to pursue journalism.
I’m still a little shamelessly obsessed with reading everything Manson-related that I can get my hands on. I guess that’s why you can understand why I’m a bit “excited” about going to see the documentary “Manson” with my fiance’ this week.
I had never heard of it, so I looked it up: “Manson” is a very old, rare film that explores the history, beliefs and mind-sets of those involved in the brutal Tate-LaBianca slayings. Apparently, a team of filmmakers spent time at the Manson Family “home,” Spahn Ranch, before the trial. When the film was about to be released, it was banned because it had potential to affect the family members right to a fair trial.
My friend Chris tipped me off to the fact that the documentary is playing in L.A. at The Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax.
Here’s Cinefamily’s description of the movie:
“This feature doc has the urgency of a breaking-news telecast, the emotional complexity of a sudsy soap opera, and the deep, dank evil of a classic chiller. The ‘Helter Skelter’ murders shook the nation, ending the era’s Summer-of-Love vibe; this dynamic Pop Art portrait of the Family members’ head-spinning motives — told in their own words — is an incredible delineation of the facts for the uninitiated, and an unparalleled, fetishistic footage pile for the hardcore fans. The secret weapons: co-directors Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick’s stockpile of guerilla 16mm evidence of goings-on at the Spahn Ranch, and the unprecedented intimacy they acquired with key players throughout the life of the Family. For the first time, you the viewer will immediately get why people become so obsessed with this entire sprawling mindfuck of a true-crime saga. Gutsy, beautiful work.
Dirs. Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick, 1973, 35mm, 83 min.”
We’re going to try and go see it tonight. If this plan fails, though, there’s another showing tomorrow night. Can’t wait to check it out.