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Helter Skelter (1976)

Unrated | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | TV Movie 1 April 1976
The investigation and trial of the horrific Tate-LaBianca mass murders orchestrated by the psychotic pseudo-hippie cult leader, Charles Manson.

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(based on the book by), (based on the book by) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 3 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Christina Hart ...
Cathey Paine ...
...
Aaron Stovitz
...
...
Ronnie Howard
George Garro ...
Rosner
Vic Werber ...
Lt. Brenner
Wright King ...
Friend
...
William Garretson
Edward Bell ...
Sgt. Hank Kruger
...
Punchy
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Storyline

Chilling story of the investigation and trial of Charles Manson, leader of a strange cult which under his direction and 'control' committed numerous murders. Written by Jerry Milani <jmilani@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

His name is Charles Manson. His disciples call him God. HE PREACHED DEATH!

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 April 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Massacre in Hollywood  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original) | (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In preparation for the role of Charles Manson Steve Railsback locked himself in a closet for two hours every day. See more »

Goofs

One detective shows others how The Beatles' "White Album" has a song called "Helter Skelter". As he tells them this, he points to the Apple Records label on the record. The problem is, the label he's pointing to is the "sliced" label, which appeared on the even numbered sides of that (and any) Apple album. Since the song "Helter Skelter" appears on Side 3, the label should be of a green apple's body. See more »

Quotes

Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi: Are you always this happy?
Cindy Jane Orelia: Uh-huh.
Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi: What's the secret?
Lisa Armbruster: We found the truth.
Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi: What's the truth?
Lisa Armbruster: Charlie is love.
See more »

Connections

Remade as Helter Skelter (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Scratching Peace Symbols on Your Tombstone
(a.k.a. "First They Made Me Sleep in the Closet")
Written by Charles Manson
Performed by Steve Railsback and assorted "Family" members
See more »

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User Reviews

The Garbage People
20 May 2007 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Despite a hokey opening prologue by a narrator who talks directly to viewers, this three hour made-for-TV docu-drama provides a generally good overview of the real-life Tate/LaBianca murders that occurred in the summer of 1969, and the subsequent trial of Charles Manson and his "family". Based on the book "Helter Skelter" by Manson Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, the film has a dragnet or prosecution tone to it, as it describes events from Bugliosi's point of view. That is okay, except that the script minimizes the crucial role of Tex Watson, one of the actual killers. After the murders, Watson fled to Texas, and was initially beyond Bugliosi's prosecution reach. Later, Watson was extradited back to California.

The film's first half is confusing because it presents so many Manson family names; this part of the film is somewhat hard to follow. The film's second half concentrates on the courtroom trial and is therefore more straightforward. The film's pace tends to be slow. There are several long speeches. And some scenes are either unnecessary or overly long. One scene in the second half goes on for some ten minutes. Overall, the film has a made-for-TV look and feel. Production design, costumes, and makeup are credible. As Manson, Steve Railsback's performance is ... intense.

What makes this film worth watching is that it is a true story ... and a powerful one. Manson had no qualms about killing innocent people. And he sought to sublease that evil to weaker personalities, like Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, Leslie Van Houten, and other members of his hippie clan. And that power over others in turn fed his megalomania.

Manson was a cultural scavenger, a junk man without conscience. He and his "family" subsisted on food from dumpsters behind supermarkets. And at one point in the film, he even says he wouldn't mind prison chow; "it's better than (eating) garbage". What a statement. It says a lot about him and about his followers.


14 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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