Charles Manson, Vincent Bugliosi, "Charlie's Angels"
Manson isn't the worst movie I've seen, but
damn close. Certainly, it's the worst documentary I've seen. I
utterly amazed that this cheap, badly directed and edited excuse for a
feature got an Oscar nomination. All I can conclude from that is that
pickings that year were few, and that the unnominated documentaries
were even worse than this 83 minutes of agony.
Scanning my notes that I took while trying to stay
awake, I found that
I had written only 1/3 of the amount I usually write when watching a
for review. And most of these notes are about the incredibly amateurish
production work. That's because, quite simply, there was not really
of interest or insight to write down. If you knew nothing about Manson
or the Manson killings, you'd be utterly lost. The movie is a mishmash;
it jumps around the timeline, telling us irrelevant facts about the
and few details of the events.
The opening scrawl tells that "there are no actors in
this film." -
maybe the filmmakers are making an excuse for the participants'
for during this they are not even convincing as themselves. After
of the sentences for the participants (almost all were on death row at
the time of the movie), we meet prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. In the
short time he's on screen, the director has him jumping all over the
waving his arms, opening a briefcase full of "a million dollars" (to
the cost of the trial). He mentions that he thought the killers were
out and unusual."
After that, the documentary quickly collapses. The
grainy, faded footage,
with endless split-screening, and jumping around made this an endurance
test. Former cellmates and family members reveal nothing of interest.
see endless footage of the "family" making Manson's coat. We see
footage of the gang skinny-dipping. We see endless footage of the
driving around in dune buggies. Endless footage of horses. Interviews
the girls, with nothing of interest or insight, aside from them
singing Badfinger's "Come And Get It", and one of the girls mentioning
she planned to kill Tom Jones while making love to him.
The box proclaims, "Banned in California!", and the
movie was only given
a limited run, and has remained hard to see with poor distribution and
bannings elsewhere. It's the first time that this kind of treatment to
a movie has provoked a reaction in me that's not one of disapproval.
You'd be a lot better off entertained/informed renting
TV Helter Skelter, even though it took a few liberties
for availability on Amazon (VHS)
for availability on Amazon (DVD)
Amazon for Charles Manson's music (CD)
Also: Confessions Of A Serial
Killer, The Untold Story, Video Violence