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  • If you are really interested enough in the whole Manson affair to

    devote 7 hours to it, it would probably be best to see this together

    with the 1976 original, because the two fascinatingly complement

    each other like yin and yang, or two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

    Moreover, in spite of the chronology of their release, it would

    probably be better to see the 2004 version first, then the 1976

    version. The 1976 version begins with the murders already having

    occured, whereas the 2004 version focuses mainly on the events

    leading up to the murders, and hardly at all on the legal aspects. It

    could be summed up: 1976 version, mostly detective and legal

    work, 2004 version, mostly a psychological study.

    The 2004 version succeeds quite well in showing how Manson

    had the power that he did. Nothing that Manson says makes

    much sense; he exhibits what shrinks call tangentiality, i.e., the

    inability to focus on a point. While this leads most people to avoid

    Manson in the outside world, in the cloistered environment of

    Manson's commune, it forces the listener to listen all the more

    closely. In Jeremy Davies' riveting performance, Manson seems

    almost oracular; the very obscurity of what he was saying can

    make him seem, to the young naifs with whom he surrounded

    himself, profound. It is easy to see how they found him hypnotic.

    Davies makes Manson seem scarier than ever.
  • Doubtless this will be compared with the 1970s TV movie for most of the feedback on it. Having seen both, the main thoughts that come to mind are that in this version there is more emphasis and clarity on the motives and goals of Manson, as well as what life in the "Family" entailed. A lot of the story is shown through the eyes of Linda Kasabian.

    But what really stands out is that unlike in this remake, in the 70's movie the writers had an extremely irritating penchant for 2 characters to have a conversation in a scene, and then one character suddenly starts talking to the camera like a narrator. Thankfully that is gone, and instead of 2 deadpan detectives talking about the crimes that happened, in this version they show what happened.

    As anyone who has seen newsreels of the real Manson will attest, the acting of Jeremy Davies as Manson is excellent, even eerily hair raising in some scenes. It would be clear to anyone giving this a fair viewing that Davies has watched a lot of footage of Manson's talking style and mannerisms, and has done his homework quite well.

    One drawback in this version is the sudden use of film negatives for 1 or 2 second shots, to try and make the violence look more dramatic, but these efforts usually just marred the scene.

    Overall, well worth watching if you haven't seen it, or would like a fresh take on the Tate-LaBianca murders. Certainly better than most of the shallow junk on the tube these days.
  • It is with mixed emotions that I give this outstanding documentary such a high rating, because it doesn't exactly know where the line between glorification of a murderous madman and objective re-telling of a truly horrible tale is (and often crosses it), but the movie is so effective at telling the tale of Charles Manson and his followers that it deserves to be seen. Before I go on, it should also be noted that the movie takes a great many creative liberties with its source material, which is perfectly fine with me. What I don't like is when movies are marketed as based on true events or inspired by true events or something and then take some story and do whatever they want with it. This movie is so honest that it starts with nearly a solid minute of full-screen titles explaining that the story has been fictionalized, that certain characters and events have been dramatized for effect.

    That being said, it clearly is not a history lesson of what Manson did, which I almost think that it should have been because of the horrific nature of his crimes (if I can be excused a gag-inducing legal-thriller cliché). The one problem that I have with the movie is that, since so much was dramatized, it was made almost as a fictional thriller rather than a documentary about the Manson family. I saw a documentary about the standoff in Waco that went into great detail about the ATF's involvement (and endless screwups) that resulted in the deaths of so many people, and I think something similar would have been the best way to approach this movie.

    The murder scenes in this movie are extremely difficult to watch because you know they really happened. If nothing else, great attention was paid to making sure that the murders were as close to real life as possible. Many of the victims were even in the same position and locations in and around their houses as they really were when they were found. And this is what made me dislike the level of glorification in the movie. Charles Manson is so deeply insane and the murders committed by his followers, no matter how brainwashed they were, were so heinous and so disgusting that it made me wish they had thrown him in prison and barred all reporters from talking to him or anyone who knew anything about him.

    His punishment should have been disappearance.

    On the other hand, I guess I have to admit that I am fascinated by stories like his, which is why I watch documentaries about the standoff at Waco and movies about Ed Gein or John Wayne Gacy. But I like to think that I look at them almost like extended news clips (despite being fictionalized to whatever extent, in this case), and that I can watch something like this and maintain a level of disgust at what really happened. I see a line, for example, between being impressed with a fictional murderer like Hannibal Lecter and a non-fictional murderer (whether he killed anyone with his own hands or not) like Charles Manson. It made me think twice about what I should really think of the fact that I own 22 Marilyn Manson CDs (see my summary line).

    Another thing that I found interesting was that all of this took place in Topanga Canyon, near where I live. In fact, after I finish writing this review I am going on the same bike ride that I do two or three times a week. I go west on Venice Blvd. to Sepulveda, then head north over the Sepulveda pass to Ventura Blvd. I go left on Ventura, through Woodland Hills to Topanga Canyon road, then I follow that all the way to the coast, which takes me directly through the middle of the town where the Manson family lived. I've been through there probably a hundred times and I never knew that was where this all happened. Scary.

    Jeremy Davies gives a spectacular performance in the movie, and I like that most of it focuses on him and his followers and how he communicated with them to get them to believe that he was their personal savior when in reality he was the exact opposite, and relatively little time is spent showing the murders (which is good because if it was the other way around the movie would have been literally unwatchable). This case is a textbook study for psychologists about the impressionable young minds of the lost young.

    Another element that the movie is not very concerned with is the actual trial itself, although I see no problem with this because it is not a courtroom drama, it is a TV thriller about a murderous cult leader. The movie is already over two hours long, we don't need another hour showing the convictions of a lot of people that we already know were convicted. The movie is more concerned with what events led up to their arrest and prosecution, and in that sense it does very well. Dramatized for effect, but the heart of the meaning of it all is still there.
  • Of all the murder trials in American history, only the Charles Manson case continues to hold fascination thirty-five years after it took place. The original "Helter Skelter" film aired on CBS in 1976, and focused mainly on the trial of Manson and his zombie teen girls. It was an excellent TV movie, but we never really got a sense of what life with Manson and his young followers was like. This film takes a different approach by focusing on Manson himself, the young people whose lives were ruined by him, and by depicting the actual murders themselves, which were quite intense for a television film. Jeremy Davies ("Spanking the Monkey," "Saving Private Ryan") was deeply scary as Manson. Clea Duvall did a fabulous job as Linda Kasabian, the "family" member who witnessed the murders but did not participate. After the murders, we get the sense that Kasabian is really torn up inside and knows that what was happening was very wrong, while other family members laughed and cheered as they watched news reports of the savage killings on television. Another excellent performance was by Whitney Dylan as Sharon Tate, the pregnant actress who was violently butchered by Manson's murderous teen followers. The scene in which she is on the floor dying and asks the killers to please try and save her baby was chilling and almost tear-inducing. We also get an excellent feel of the turbulent atmosphere of the time, 1969, and how the Manson murders brought "the decade of love" to a thundering halt. What makes this so sad and scary is that this actually happened. The fact that all-American teens from respectable families fell prey to a maniacal con man and are now spending their lives in prison is a frightening reminder of how young people can so easily be led astray by false prophets who promise the world and eventually can lead you into darkness and tragedy, whether it is 1969 or 2004. This film makes you want to hug and talk to your kids about the evil, dangerous alure of cults and false religions. All of the kids in the Manson family were runaways, and Charlie told them exactly what they wanted to hear and soon had them clinging to his every deceptive word. Manson continues to have a following among young people, thirty-five years after these awful crimes, and that's what is really disturbing. Watch the original 1976 film for an exhaustive dramatization of the trial itself, and see this remake for details of the events leading up to the trial. Way above average for television.
  • Although I liked this remake of the '76 version, the original still surpassed it by miles. Jeremy Davies gave a very good performance as Manson, yet didn't send chills down my spine like Steve Railsback did in the original. Although I understand that the focus of this remake was more on Manson and the family and less on the investigation and trial, I felt some key details were, maybe purposely, left out. One that really bothered me was the fact that on both nights, the killers wore dark clothing and brought changes of clothing with them, though in this version they wore whatever they happened to have on at the ranch. Tossing the bloody clothing and weapons over an embankment, they had discarded what eventually became some of the first physical pieces of evidence found linking them directly to the crimes, other than actual prints found at the crime scene. For a film that supposedly paid such close attention to detail, this was a big one to omit. All in all, worth seeing. Do see the original, though, and I think you'll agree that Steve Railsback gave an almost effortless performance as Manson, seeming to be looking at you right through your TV screen.
  • Being as hyped as this movie was, not only was it flawed, it was just plain boring.

    Although the choice to use Linda Kasabian was a smart one, and interesting to say the least, everything else was yawn-inducing.

    The performance of Jeremy Davies as Charles Manson was surprising - he pulled it off perfectly - the performances of those at Cielo Drive were cringe-worthy. Even after spending time with Sharon Tate's sister, Whitney Dylan still couldn't find the spark to play her.

    For reasons unknown, CBS took the step of changing the address of Cielo Drive from 10050 to 10000 - do they know that the now infamous house has been gone for 10 years? They also took the opportunity to change some already dramatic scenes from 1969 to pathetic and downright moronic scenes for this film. Yes, Charles Manson did see Sharon Tate at Cielo Drive in real life, but not like it was shown in the film. And, for anyone who has knowledge on this case, Abigail Folger and Wojciech Frykowski were not that cozy or loving when they were killed - FAR from it.

    Not only did CBS leave many with the wrong idea about those in Cielo Drive, they thought they could get away with overlooking small details of the case. I, for one, noticed them all.

    All in all, Clea and Jeremy probably saved this film from being even more boring than it was. They were the only interesting things about this film and should be rewarded by CBS if this dreadful piece gets high ratings.
  • Having long nurtured a fascination with the Manson Family murder spree, when I heard CBS was airing a new film version of 'Helter Skelter,' co-produced by Vincent Bugliosi and starring the gifted Jeremy Davies as Manson, I couldn't resist tuning in. Boy, was I disappointed.

    Davies is a superb actor, but, despite his previously demonstrated ability to play twisted, mentally unstable characters ('Solaris,' 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Ravenous'), his Manson is sort of silly and not particularly persuasive. The casting in general is fairly abysmal--especially Bruno Kirby as Bugliosi, who was at least 15 years younger than Kirby when he tried the case and at least 30 pounds lighter--though there are some small exceptions (Clea Duvall is persuasively haunting as Linda Kasabian, the key witness against the defense). In general, the whole project just seems cheap and crass: the clothes, makeup, and especially the hair on the Manson family look perversely fake and costume-ish, the story offers absolutely no new insights or perspectives on the case, and, worst of all, the direction perpetuates the fetishization of Manson that has contributed to his continued popularity among confused young people who see him as something more than a screwed-up con artist who went nuts because he couldn't get anybody to help him make a record.

    Why would Bugliosi sign on for this project, given that he has continued to lament Manson's continuing appeal and expressed remorse for his part in helping to enlarge Manson's myth? He couldn't possibly need the money--'Helter Skelter' is the best-selling true crime book of all time, and all of Bugliosi's subsequent literary efforts have also sold well. Initially I had thought that the film would shed light on how Manson became who he was--his history of incarceration and institutionalization, his horrific childhood, the influence of Scientology and the 'Church of the Process' on his new-agey philosophy, which he later wielded to woo his acolytes into worshiping him to the point that they lost their independent will and would be willing to murder on his order--but instead, we get a retread of facts that will be familiar to anyone who has paid the slightest attention to this case in the past.

    There was an opportunity here to add to the story, and to at least make a stab at unpacking the various forces which led up to Manson's bizarre, apocalyptic vision. Perhaps the most overlooked detail of Manson's history is that he is a product of the failures of society, particularly in relation to our child welfare and penal systems. The son of a 'bad girl' who abandoned him to the state, Manson suffered horrific physical and sexual abuse at the hands of older inmates before he reached his teens. By the time he showed up in the Haight in '67, he'd spent over half of his life in prison, and had even begged not to be released, acknowledging himself that he'd been 'institutionalized'--that he'd spent so much of his life in prison culture that he was neither willing nor able to make the transition back into society. Worst of all, Manson would have been the first person to tell anyone that he was far from rehabilitated when he was let loose on the world for the last time.

    There's no forgiving Charles Manson for his crimes, nor is there really any way of knowing if his hold over his followers was due to anything more than a shrewd con-man's instincts for exploiting vulnerable marks. But it could be argued that, had he been treated more humanely as a child, he might not have evolved into the man he became.

    But this film overlooks the possibility of adding something constructive to this sensational story and chooses instead to roll around in the same old dirt. It's awfully hypocritical of Bugliosi to facilitate this garbage, especially given that the product suggests that his only motives were to make a quick buck and maybe sell a few more books. It's also disrespectful to the families of the victims and the other, secondary victims of Manson--Charles Watson, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, and Patricia Krenwinkle--who were seduced into becoming murderers and, thanks to the continuing public fascination with Manson, will likely never see the outside of a prison, while far more sinister and dangerous killers are regularly paroled after serving half as much time as Manson's unlucky followers.
  • 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.
  • The problem with this film is the director. He blew it, big time. When i first heard they were making this film i was exited and waited a long time to see it. And now that i have watched it, Man ! what a disappointment. Why a re make, why not just call it "the family" or something like that. What a shame, this could have been a great film. What a stupid, stupid director.

    Jeremy Davis is so wrong for this part and OMG Bruno Kirby, how can that man get a job as an actor. He is terrible. The girl who plays Pat Krenwinel looks 35 when in real life the girls were around 20. All the Manson people look like they are from an Aron Spelling show. The Manson girls did not wear make-up + it has been well documented that the killers were wearing all black clothes on the night of the murders and the girls were barefoot. The fake bloodstains on they're clothes. Sharon Tate never asked Susan Atkins to cut the baby out. That is just silly.

    Also Clea Duvall was wrong for the part of Linda Kasabian. Why couldn't they just get a blond actress with long hair in stead of giving her that hideous wig. I don't get it she's not that great. Girl who plays Sadie Atkins goes over the top and we barely see Van Houten. The dialog is so silly and stupid. I could go on and on,,,,,,only stupidity and greed explain this production.

    This is such a shame. With the right director and the right cast this could bee a great film for the big screen but that will not happen now after Mr Gray blew it. The good things about this film are that the look of this production is a step up from the old one and a very few factual things like I noticed the girl who plays Susan Atkins is wearing identical dress at the grand jury as in old archive footage i have seen of her, but that's about it
  • Helter Skelter 2004 really brought back all those events of August 1969. The new updated version made no attempt to out-do the 1976 television movie. Instead, it really showed more of the evil-persona of Charlie Manson and how he manipulated the members of his "family" to do his evil bidding.

    Jeremy Davis was excellent as Manson. He had big shoes to fill over Steve Railsback's performance in 1976. Alison Smith's, Catherine Wadkins', and Margerite Moreau's performances really made my hair stand on end. The visuals of this film were well shown, right down to the reversed "negative" images when the killings were done. Who needs to see the actual blood and gore as there is to much of that detached violence portrayal.

    You had to live in the era to really understand the impact of these disgusting crimes. The 1976 telefilm version was only seven years after the fact and it was frightening to watch back then. This new version was also frightening as it showed how an evil individual could have so much influence over certain people.

    May Charlie Manson never get out of prison. If so, he could do this all again.
  • I was hoping this version of the Bugliosi/Gentry story of the Manson murders would not dissapoint and it didnt, it approached the very detailed book from more of the position of the Manson family and machinations. It also put a human face on those victimized and murdered by these sad seduced teenagers. Jeremey Davies gave an eerie performance as Charles Manson, he was an excellent choice but then he is always good in everything he does, Clea Duvall was great as Linda Kasabian, the girl who served as the star witness and one of the Manson Family members with a conscious.

    The Story opens with the one murder not often discussed the murder of music teacher Gary Hinman in july 1969 in Topanga Canyon California not too far from the other murder sites. The 3hr movie ends with the trial beginning. This was just an excellent TV movie and I think it was good to remake this again since the original is not shown often and there is this bizarre following of Manson still to this day. Well maybe those misguided souls will learn someting even from this, I recommend reading the book too, one of the first pages has an rather ominious warning "The Book you are about to read will scare the hell out of you" It will its creepy and very good reading, this movie took some of the creepiness and translated it well to screen.
  • I'd thought that this was actually going to be a director's cut of the original movie - but then I saw that it was a new take and was very interested to see how they did.

    The guy who played Manson I think was a bit over the top and trying too hard to be eccentric. All the women in the movie pretty much were gorgeous, which was not the case with the original women. Clea Duvall was good, as were the ones playing Atkins and Krenwenkel. Kudos also to the woman playing Rosemary LaBianca, although the parts for the victims were of course not long enough or complicated enough for the actors/actresses to expand.

    Facts-wise it was very interesting because they pulled a great deal, especially with the dialogue, directly from quotes attributed to the real people in Bugliosi's book. But then just when I was about to commend them for being that meticulous, they pull out absurdity such as Sharon asking Atkins to cut out the baby, and other real embellishments. I think the real story is horrifying enough. There was no need to try and make things more "bankable" or to try to ratchet up the sadness by making stuff up.

    I wasn't looking directly at the screen when Bugliosi made his first appearance. You could NOT have told me he was not being played by Joe Pesci until I looked up to see. He sounds exactly like Pesci - it was hilarious in spite of the subject matter.

    The graphic scenes were well done. They kept on graying out the screen not unlike movies such as Sin City when things got especially graphic - at least partly for effect.

    Overall not a bad movie. It got most of it right, but left out a lot and embellished a lot. It was far more like a "TV movie" than the original was and overall I'd say if you saw the original you can absolutely skip this one. In fact I'll be watching the original again as soon as this is over - it's still on as I write this.
  • Where do I begin? The most bizarre story in the annals of American murder history and Hollywood just can't tell the facts; it has to "spin" the story. Historical accuracy and realistic casting were left in a ditch along the side of the road. Jeremy Davies was horrible as Manson. Couldn't the producers have found an actor closer to the actual height of Manson to play the role? He talks so softly and waves his arms so much, that I thought I was watching a mute orchestra conductor. Linda Kasabian is played as a sympathetic lost sole, who hooks up with the wrong crowd. Yet, in real life it took a nationally announced warrant for her arrest before she turned herself into the police. Over 3 months after she and her baby had left the family! If she was so overcome with remorse couldn't she had just turned herself into police months earlier? Tex Watson, who either killed or helped kill all seven of the victims, appears detached and tormented as he watches a broadcast announcing the victims names on T.V., At it's height there were only 7 male members, including Manson, in the family. At the time of the murders there were a total of 4 male members, including Manson, and approximately 20 female members, yet the movie makes it appear that the family consisted of a bunch of guys with a few girls thrown in for good measure. In real life virtually all of the girls in the family were between the ages of 16 and 22. Yet, the actresses who played them in the movie are all in their mid to late twenties. Why? Aren't there teenage actresses in Hollywood who could have played these roles? The actress who plays Kitty Lutesinger, who was 16 at the time, looks like a clone of Nancy Sinatra circa '68. But the most ridiculous moment in the entire movie occurs when Sharon Tate, after having been stabbed 16 times in the chest with a 5 inch long knife manages to tell Susan Atkins; the best performer in the movie, to "Take the baby, cut the baby out" This is a total fabrication, it never occurred.
  • Oh man! What was CBS thinking? Were there no top level executives screening this thing beforehand? Not since Bob Odenkirk have I seen a Charlie Manson played for laughs. In 1976, there was made for TV movie called Helter Skelter and it starred Steve Railsback. It was one of the scariest and spookiest movies ever put on TV. When you saw Railsback on screen, you felt uncomfortable. His eyes, his look, his voice. The movie had a long lasting effect on anybody that saw it. Well, CBS felt they could do a re-telling of the story. However, it glossed over so many key issues from the book and the case, that you just have to scratch your head. This movie chose to focus on Charlie and the family leading up to the trial. However, the family looks more like extras from an Old Navy commercial. Charlie looks as intimidating as Michael Jackson, wait scratch that, he looks as intimidating as Janet Jackson. Since the actor does not have scary eyes, he tries to do this same rehearsed stare in every scene. It was, dare I say, almost funny. Look, I could trash this movie all night long, but I won't. The real tragedy is that they took a significant event from American History and rushed out a poor re-telling of it. Moreover, the edit is so bad, we do not get to see any of the trial. This was horribly flawed. Watch the original from 1976 or read Bugliosi's book if you want to know what happened and why, oh yeah, and if you want to be scared.
  • Helter Skelter is a remake of a 1976 TV movie. It is based on the true story of the Tate/Labianca murders committed by "The Manson Family". I will make my opinion clear; this is a tacky, tacky movie. It does not deserve the title of trashy or cult. It is pure tacky through and through, from the insane wigs to the over the top theatrical actor who plays Manson. Jeremy Davis was a convincing Manson, but went a little too far in some places. He got the accent and the body movements down well, unlike the actor in 'The Manson Family' (who came of more like Jesus to me). I felt this was the only redeeming quality of the movie, that and the 17 minute special feature of Jeremy's rehearsal footage, walking around trying to emulate Manson The look of this movie is all over the place, one moment it looks very gritty, the next a famous face appears and trippy camera effects are used and used badly. The news segments of the movie are horribly filmed, the effect used is over the top in an attempt to make the footage look real/old, the shots are unconvincing for news footage and resemble a shot you would see on MTV's head bangers ball, with the weird angles minus the zoom function. Whenever there is a killing scene in the movie the majority of it is shot in negative, to dramatize the event, but it comes off totally conceited, and seems as though they were too lazy to come up with their own experimental ideas.

    The film is an hour too long, it runs for 2 hours and 10 minutes and is rather drawn out and pieced together badly. The murder scenes are a little more brutal than that of the Manson family in regards to sound effects and the dramatization of the scenes. Some people think this film is so bad its good, but it's so bad its bad. Do yourself a favor and rent/buy 'The Manson Family'. Meanwhile I am going to sit here and curse the fact that I paid $20 for this DVD.
  • A strong start - the pulsating song "Helter Skelter" (by a band who is not The Beatles) over a montage of 1960s images, and then a swift deposit into the home of music teacher Gary Hinman where we are witness to his brutal senseless killing by Family members Bobby Beausoleil and Susan "Sadie" Atkins. Charlie himself shows up in no time wielding the sword that takes off a piece of Gary's ear. To a true crime buff this is gold, getting to see a re-enactment of that which had not been seen before. Then the movie becomes "The Linda Kasabian Story". We meet Linda as she's introduced, young daughter in arms, to the Family and their home, a disheveled old movie ranch, by Family member Gypsy. From that point onward it's as if we see the story through her eyes only; Clea Duvall, impressive as Linda, is in nearly every frame henceforth. By pointedly attempting to defy comparison to the original, this latest adaptation of the book "Helter Skelter" by prosecuting attorney turned author Vincent Bugliosi, invites just that. Comparison. It tries way too hard to be the anti-1974 version by showing us many of the episodes we didn't get to see in the first (Bobby being pulled over by the police for driving a stolen car, Sharon Tate's possible encounter with a trespassing Manson days before the murder) and omits most of what it assumes we've seen before. There is none of the great detective work of Bugliosi. Bruno Kirby (miscast as Bugliosi) doesn't even show up until nearly two hours into the three hour film. At that point the movie just rushes to get it all over with. As Manson, Jeremy Davies, is adequate. He's studied Charlie's mannerisms, that's for sure, but the lack of actual physical resemblance made for a portrayal hard to swallow. The buzz was we'd learn more about Manson this go 'round; we didn't. Speaking of resemblances, other than Clea Duvall's (and her wig is wretched) to the person she plays, there isn't any to be found here. Many of the family girls were redheads. Most notably Squeaky Fromme, who later went on to attempt to assassinate President Ford. She was copper-haired and freckled. Yet here she's played by Mary Lynn Rajskub (of "24") who's blonde and fair complected. And Kitty Lutesinger had a beautiful mane of auburn hair yet the make-up department chose to give the actress who plays her (Cheselka Leigh) a despicable ratty blonde wig (in this day of chemical treatments and hair extensions why the cheap and obvious wigs?). This probably would have been much better had it been longer, perhaps spread out over two nights. A great disservice was done to the story by having it cruise along at top speed and then bottom out in the final act.
  • The only real problem I had with the film was that they didn't get into the whole Beatles / Revolution / Apocalypse angle enough. I would have liked to see more of Charlie talking about his ideas and philosophies. You never get a clear picture as to why these kids were so attached to the hippie guru.

    I think that in order to get a more complete picture of the murders etc, you need to view this along with the original TV movie.

    As far as this film not telling us anything new? Well, it's been over 30 years since the murders. There ISN'T anything new to tell.

    If some of the dialogue is taken from the Manson documentary, that is great. These are the words of the people who were there so that only seems appropriate.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is not a bad movie, considering it was made for TV and much of the story is already known.

    Charles Manson was a sociopath who spent most of his live in prison, and who hitched along on the hippie movement of the sixties. His long hair, guitar and "philosophy" were props he used to act out his messed up psyche.

    Having said that, while not a bad movie, it is just not particularly gripping, because most of their victims are innocent bystanders. Who are you going to root for?

    I think the acting was pretty good to reasonable. If you are interested in true crime, see it if is on TV, but don't pay money for it.
  • I was eight when the Tate killings took place and grew up in Sherman Oaks approx' five miles from the Tate house on Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon. Our family used to go hiking and picnicking at Chatsworth park right next to the Spahn ranch. I remember seeing a lot of hippies and street people hanging out there.

    This is an excellent, well made version of the Manson case. Better than the 1976 movie although Steve Railsbach in that version was a better Manson. Jeremy Davies here was outstanding although slightly one-note. He "gets" Manson and has the moves, the looks and the theatrics but not Charlies vibe, menace and especially not his eyes.

    The movie gets all the details right, right down to the misspelling of "Healter Skelter": the sequence of events during the killings, life on the ranch etc. It could easily have been a two parter and ended too abruptly. They didn't need to waste so much time on Roman Polanskis bereavement.

    Clea DuVall as Linda was awesome. She was beautiful, sensitive and mature and has really come into her own as an actress since "Girl Interrupted". She carried the film here right alongside Davies.

    For some reason, Leslie Van Houten got almost no screen time and there was no Danny DeCarlo, the biker who was a key informant. I think he was supposed to be the "Jerry" character. They also did away with the boys discovery, in his backyard, of the long barreled Buntline Special gun use to kill Frykowski.

    I'm still waiting for the big budget, big screen version of the movie to come out and really do the story justice. My personal choices for Charlie: Tom Sizemore or Willem Dafoe (but, alas, it'll never happen. Too many skeletons in too many Hollywood closets).
  • Good narrative movie that gives important information for those who are interested in the Manson's clan modus operandi and the infamous Sharon Tate murder. The problem is that this movie focuses too much on the informative field but forgets about the visuals.

    There aren't interesting moments for a movie that has a Horrot label. The movie is very toned down for such a brutal concept and plot. The main problem with this movie that I understand it's very low budget is that it lacks of quality production values.

    If you watch this once, you will quickly forget about it because it does not have much to offer. The information is accurate and very well displayed but as a movie, it fails on every aspect.
  • John Gray is the writer-director of this new visual version of Vincent Bugliosi's book. This is the grisly story of psychotic Charles Manson(Jeremy Davies)and his "family" and the gut wrenching Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969. These murders were of course intended to jump start Manson's "Helter Skelter" process of causing a race war in which the 5-foot-2 maniac would then tell "the black man" how to rule the world. As you remember this grand plan of Charlie's came to him via the Beatles' White Album.

    The original miniseries in 1974 focused on the court trial. This version spends more time trying to figure out why so many people got wrapped up in following Manson. Davies' portrayal of Manson is pale in comparison to that of Steve Railsback in the original. Railsback's portrayal of the wild-eyed lunatic has followed him ever since. After that being said Bruno Kirby's role as District Attorney Bugliosi also stands in the shadow of George DiCenzo's Bugliosi.

    Neither version of this manipulative slaughter compares with Bugliosi's best-selling book that documents the cultish antics and courtroom sideshows of Manson and his followers. This is the scariest book I have ever read and I love reading Stephen King. But after reading "Helter Skelter" I have never slept without a light being on in the house. The horrid violence is primarily alluded to. I can just imagine the treatment given the murders in a major motion picture project.
  • After watching the "remake" of Helter Skelter last night, I can't wait to pop in the far superior 1976 television version tonight. Bruno Kirby was not believable as Bugliosi, nor was Jeremy Davies as Manson, whereas their respective 1976 counterparts, George DiCenzo and Steve Railsback, nailed these difficult parts dead-on, virtually defining their real-life counterparts in the process.

    This newer version actually shows the murders, whereas the original did not - whether this is an improvement or not is a matter of preference. The new version also spends some time developing the characters of the murder victims, another aspect lacking in the original.

    The new cast tries hard, but no dice. The superlative performances in the original make this remake pale in comparison. By the way, the chick who played Susan Atkins in the original turned in one of the most chilling television performances ever - whatever happened to her and why have I never seen her in anything else? But I digress...

    This new version struck me as though it had been slapped together rather quickly. Attempting to cram a complex piece of history into 3 hours (with commercials) does not work. I kept thinking I was watching Part I, and all of a sudden a bogus "American Graffiti" type written conclusion appears on the screen. The new version barely touched the trial, whereas the trial scenes accounted for a good chunk of the chills in the original.

    Helter Skelter did not need to be remade unless someone was going to do it right. Where have you gone, Steve Railsback?
  • charlieluvsyou3421 March 2006
    This is a must see movie. It really consist of focusing on Manson himself and who he was then of the original one. It is very detailed and I myself know a great deal about Charlie and the family and I must say every detail is absolutely correct with the exception of maybe 2 or 3 very small unneeded things you would need to know. But believe me the point is made very well. Grey did an excellent job directing and I just loved the negative visual effects he threw in there to give it a one of a kind horror/thriller look to the film. Also it's great to get the DVD if you can because you will want to check out the special features and Jermeny Davies preparation for this film and his exact on the money portrayal of Manson.
  • bok60217 May 2004
    Mother Theresa was wrongly rewarded if we are to take this revisionist view of the Manson Family slaughter at it's face value. Linda Kasabian is presented as something like a wandering Brady kid who just made a few wrong choices.

    The actors played their parts as though they were in an episode of NYPD Blue or Law & Order, with all the hip, urban "I've seen this all before" attitude -completely undermining the horror of the fact that during the time period the events took place NO ONE had seen ANYTHING like this before (that's why the crimes were so shocking).

    Along similar lines, the entire look of the film was like watching a modern cop drama -the cinematography never once let go of the NYPD Blue graininess and roving camera moves. Aside from the old cars and very bad hippie hair, nothing about this film looked very "period."

    The actor playing Bugliosi was particularly out of place, seeming like a demented cross between Joe Pesci and Tony Soprano. I kept expecting him to turn to the judge and say "You see your honor, there were these two yoots..." Or look Charlie in the eye and say something like "Am I a clown? Do I amuse you?"

    Skip this exploitative redress and stick to the original.
  • When I heard that there was to be a remake of the movie Helter Skelter, I was curious and excited. I have always had a mild fascination with the so-called Manson family, and thought the original film of Helter Skelter, that was a riveting, fact based movie that gave us a glimpse of not only the disgusting work of the twisted "family", in the murders of Sharon Tate and the LaBianca's, but it also provided us with some great courtroom scenes as well. This movie fell far short. The movie showed us glimpses of the horrible murders, but seemed to focus primarily on two people, Charles Manson and Linda Kasabian. There were some scenes involving Roman Polanski (and the actor playing him was awesome, could have been Polanski's twin), but mostly the movie revolved around Charles Manson's fake, rambling and thorougly annoying speeches. While I do admit that Jeremy Davis gave a pretty dead on impression of the modern day

    psycho, I began to find his stares and long arduous monolouges boring and it began to get on my nerves. While the character of Linda Kasabian did nothing but stare in horror the whole time. The worst part of the whole movie was that the entire trial of the whole movie was left out! How can this be? This was the most interesting part of the whole story. Charles defending himself, the women chanting, shaving their heads etc. There was so much to this story that was left out that it felt incomplete. This was supposed to be a remake of the original movie? It was nothing like it. And even if it wasn't, did it have to leave out so much? Instead of focusing so much on the gorey details, the movie should have focused more on the trial and outcome of the movie, how it affected the familys, and where they are today. This was a boring, nonsensical waste of time, and a waste of a great story.
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