Helter Skelter

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Time Out says

A dramatised documentary about the wave of brutal killings that swept LA back in 1969, and the investigations and trials that eventually led to the conviction of Charles Manson and several members of his 'family'. Based on the book of the same name by prosecuting DA Vincent Bugliosi, it's hardly surprising that the movie is factually reliable, although having been cut down to half its original length (it was first shown as a two-part telefilm), it inevitably omits many important details, such as the fact that one of the defence lawyers was killed by the 'family' during the trial. More disturbingly, it never really examines the generally confused and shifting moral climate in which the murders took place: the sympathy that Manson won from various far outposts of the counter-culture is totally ignored, while the lackadaisical and incompetent methods of the police investigations are barely mentioned. Still, it's thankfully low on gore, and (for an enormously complicated story) told with sufficient narrative simplicity to remain gripping, even though the premise that Manson and his right-hand woman Susan Atkins were mad is too often signalled by ludicrously widened staring eyes.


Release details

92 mins

Cast and crew

Tom Gries
JP Miller
George DiCenzo
Steve Railsback
Nancy Wolfe
Marilyn Burns
Christina Hart
Cathey Paine
Alan Oppenheimer
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