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Charles Manson Superstar (1989)

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For forty years, Charles Manson has survived most of his life in what he calls 'the hallways of the all ways,' the reform schools, jails and prisons that have been his home and tomb. His ... See full summary »



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Title: Charles Manson Superstar (Video 1989)

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Cast overview:
Charles Manson ...
Nikolas Schreck ...
Narrator (voice)
Zeena LaVey ...
Narrator (voice)
James N. Mason ...


For forty years, Charles Manson has survived most of his life in what he calls 'the hallways of the all ways,' the reform schools, jails and prisons that have been his home and tomb. His thought was born in the hole of solitary confinement, apart from time and beyond the grasp of society. In his cell, he created his own world and speaks his own language: he has concluded that there is only the mind. This DVD will relinquish to you the extreme story of the killer of all killers: Charles Manson. From convincing his followers to move into the desert to train for the apocalypse, to leading a murderous crew through a string of devilish murders, you will see and hear from Manson himself of how he created a preconceived terror based on his philosophy of life. Manson claims that the so-called 'straight' world outside of prison is but an inverted reflection of the underworld in which he has lived. To him, the reality that presidents and law-abiding citizens accept begins in the hermetic ... Written by Clint Weiler

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Release Date:

17 September 2002 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


Since this film was released in 1989, director Nicholas Schreck has made the following corrections in an insert for the DVD release: - The Polanski residence was in the Los Angeles community of Beverly Hills, not Bel-Air. - According to Anton LaVey's wife Diane, it is unlikely that the described ritual performed by the Church of Satan took place on August 8, 1969. - Anton LaVey had no connection with the production of the film Rosemary's Baby (1968). - Kenneth Anger has accused Bobby Beausoleil of stealing the print of the film Lucifer Rising (1972). Beausoleil claims that Anger could not afford to pay the film's lab cost. See more »


References Code of Silence (1960) See more »

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User Reviews

Slight flaws and eyebrow-raising moral standpoint aside, an informative Manson documentary
21 September 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Over the last few decades, all but the faintest trace remains of the potently symbolic light in which Charles Manson, his Family, and the murders that brought him notoriety were originally seen. While now sanitised by parody, media-overexposure, and age, it takes some feat to imagine the supernaturally charismatic anti-messiah and serious-threat-to-the-foundations-of-society he was once portrayed as. Yet it is this image which 'Charles Manson Superstar' evokes and explores in a way which begins by mixing erudite objectivity and reasoned (but slightly unnerving-in-its-implications) apologism with the kind of all out glorification writer/director Nikolas Schreck has made no bones about in the past. Indeed, one time associate of the Church of Satan and founder of spin-off, eugenics-endorsing, organisation the Order of the Werewolf, Schreck and partner Zeena (daughter of Anton) LaVey were the driving force behind the 8/8/88 Satanic rally, held on the anniversary of the Tate murders to commemorate the "cleansing" they represented. What's more, during the rally, a movie ('The Other Side of Madness') was shown which depicts the murders in grisly detail and drew cheers from the crowd when the slaying began.

Morally dubious this may well all be, but 'Charles Manson Superstar' is nonetheless a highly rewarding documentary. This is due to the fact that the all-out Manson sympathy agenda only emerges on a few occasions and yet somehow the fearlessness needed to admit this perspective (so readily dismissed as misguided or otherwise condemned as degenerate) has a curiously liberating effect on the remaining parts of the documentary which objectively contextualise the man and the crimes as well as broach the difficulty/futility of attempting to penetrate the body of sensationalist media myths and social paranoia that plagues discussion of the topic. Furthermore, the line separating glorification/objectivity is blurred by the extended interview footage with Manson himself which between some silly karate moves, word-salad, and uber-60s style opining on "the music…you dig?" permits him space to elaborate on the role of the Gnostic God Abraxas, the ecological movement (ATWA) which he founded, and offer penetrating criticisms of the incestuous relationship between the media and society and the parasitic relationship both have to crime and criminals. All of which really does offer glimpses of an attractive anti-establishment philosophy synthesised by a keen mind which could easily offer solace to society's disaffected and certainly shows Manson as far more intelligent than the one-dimensional malevolent-hippie-lunatic he is uniformly presented as.

Having read several reviews over several sites, much seems to have been made of the supposed "numerous" factual inaccuracies which "litter" the film. However, most reviews I have read stop short of actually listing them. As far as I can gather, this is an exaggeration: a few inaccuracies there are, but these include the birthday of Ed Gein and the fact the documentary claims Lennon wrote the song 'Helter Skelter' when we all know it was McCartney. Hardly condemning stuff, and it seems that focusing on these kind of trivialities is designed to detract attention away from the more penetrating and thought provoking aspects of the documentary. However, having said this, there is one inaccuracy of note: the film advocates the apologist argument that Manson's incarceration is due to his anti-establishment ideas and that he was not responsible for the murders nor even present at the scenes of the crime. While there is an argument that Manson's continued incarceration is an unjust political move designed to avoid the uproar that would accompany it, the role of wholly innocent sacrificial lamb really doesn't suit him and it is generally acknowledged that while he never actually slayed anyone, he was present at the scene (albeit in a casing capacity) and it was the acid soaked apocalyptic milieu he crafted that was certainly a fundamental aspect of the atrocities.

This point duly noted, in my opinion the wealth of information and the wholly original perspective the documentary offers makes its limitations forgivable and even though the caveats are that Schreck's agenda should be known and it should be watched alongside other documentaries as a point of comparison, 'Charles Manson Superstar' is nonetheless a fascinating watch and has much to offer even the most knowledgeable followers of the pop-culture phenomenon that ended the Sixties.

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