15 January 2005 | peteykins666
Almost bad enough to be a classic
I sure enjoyed this campy, terrible new version of Bugliosi's flawed, fascinating version of the Manson murders. I suppose the production's tragic flaw is that Warner Bros. was determined to exploit Jeremy Davies' uncanny Charles Manson impersonation, but unwilling to devote much time to it. It's difficult to say who could respect this version of the horrifying events which brought an end to hippiedom. Squeezed unhappily into a little over two hours, those familiar with the case will sneer at the ruthless editing and condensation of the facts and events surrounding the murders. Incredibly, the film comes to an abrupt halt before the trial, hastily summed up in text just before the final credits, even begins! Those only passingly familiar, or unfamiliar, with Manson will simply be left out in the cold by the completely incoherent, fragmented narrative. Luckily, it's loaded with camp value, and there are occasional glimmers of how great this version could have been if they had only pumped up the silliness a few more notches. On the DVD, for instance, there is an outtake of a scene where Susan Atkins breaks into a torrid go-go dance in prison, and you wish she would burst into song, too, so that the whole production would go where it obviously wants to go. Another laughable aspect is the consistent undermining of the various actresses' performances by their ludicrous wigs. Unfortunately, this production doesn't live up to the inherent promise of the source material, either as true crime, or as bad-taste comedy, so I can't give it four stars. Nevertheless, it's wrong-headed enough to be fun, even if all I could think while watching it was how much better it could have been if John Waters had directed it.