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The Manson Family (1997)

A dramatization of the horrific and notorious Manson Family Murders, in the form of super 8 home movies.

Director:

Jim Van Bebber

Writer:

Jim Van Bebber

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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marcelo Games Marcelo Games ... Charles Manson
Marc Pitman ... Charles 'Tex' Watson
Leslie Orr Leslie Orr ... Patty Krenwinkel
Maureen Allisse Maureen Allisse ... Susan 'Sadie' Atkins
Amy Yates Amy Yates ... Leslie van Houten
Jim Van Bebber Jim Van Bebber ... Bobby
Tom Burns Tom Burns ... Clem Watkins
Michelle Briggs Michelle Briggs ... Linda Kasabian
Sherri Rickman Sherri Rickman ... Snake
Nate Pennington Nate Pennington ... Shorty
M.M. Jones M.M. Jones ... Ronald
Carl Day Carl Day ... Jack Wilson
Jim Sayer Jim Sayer ... Bob
Mark Gillespie Mark Gillespie ... Terry
Paul Harper Paul Harper ... Jerry
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Storyline

If you think you know the story of the Manson Family, you are dead wrong. On a ranch outside of Los Angeles, the dream of the "Love Generation" is transforming into something evil. What was once an oasis of free love and acid trips has become ground zero for a madman's paranoid visions. An average group of kids, the "Family," become engulfed in a delusional world where torment and slaughter are considered the path to righteousness.Director Jim VanBebber (Deadbeat at Dawn) delivers a dizzying, rapid-fire vision of the sex and violence that unifies the misguided group, a group hell-bent on executing the brutal vision of its leader, Charles Manson. You've seen the story through the eyes of the law. Now witness it through the eyes of THE MANSOSN FAMILY. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Based on a true story See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong grisly violence, strong sexual content/nudity, language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 October 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cult Killers See more »

Filming Locations:

Dayton, Ohio, USA

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,647, 24 October 2004, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$19,140, 31 October 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mercury Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (R-rated)

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The 90-minute DVD interview "The VanBebber Family" features the only time Jim VanBebber has appeared on screen with short hair, as he usually has it very long. See more »

Alternate Versions

The Unrated version runs 95 minutes (with 11 extra minutes of footage) and the R rated version is 84 minutes. See more »


Soundtracks

Creepy Crawl
Written by Phil Anselmo (as Philip Anselmo) / Jimmy Bower / Joe Fazio
Performed by Superjoint Ritual
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Manson Family
20 October 2010 | by random_avengerSee all my reviews

Of all the highly publicized American murder cases of the 20th century, the massacres committed by cult leader Charles Manson's followers in 1969 are probably the most infamous. Despite never personally killing anyone, Manson is still often seen as some kind of embodiment of evil and thus an object of constant curiosity. Several films have been made about "The Family" over the decades, one of them being Jim Van Bebber's semi-mocumentary finally released in 2003 after having been in production for nearly 15 years.

The frame story of the warped cinematic trip takes place in 1996 when a TV reporter named Jack Wilson (Carl Day) is preparing to interview the incarcerated Family members for his program. Some kind of strange modern followers of Manson have sent him a videotape and are not going to leave their interference at that. The bulk of the film consists of faux-interviews with the Family members and psychedelic flashbacks of scenes from the time preceding the murders. The interviewees Leslie, Bobby, Sadie, Patty and Tex seem to regret their actions, while Manson himself is only seen in the flashbacks as portrayed by Marcelo Games.

Instead of a clear, tightly-written plot the jumpy movie favours a fragmented sensory mindf**k kind of approach to its subject. The film's exploitation roots become highly evident during the long home video-like flashbacks illustrating the interviewees' memories full of hazy drug use and gratuitous nudity and sex. The lighting is mostly very richly coloured in red or blue, creating a fittingly otherworldly feel to the scenes of cult bonding under the influence of the charismatic Manson who is seen entirely through the eyes of his followers: he doesn't speak much and remains a distant character throughout. The intentionally grainy, worn-out and damaged look of the film (not only the flashbacks) strengthens the alienating atmosphere as well.

At times the film effectively captures the distressing, insane state of mind that the Family members can be imagined to have been in. The Devil worshipping orgy is a highlight among the bizarre scenes, but the colourfully lit final massacres testing the audiences' tolerance to excessive gore are a must see for any fan of hard horror too. The prolonged knife violence and maniacally laughing killers are pretty much what people (or at least me) are looking for in sleazy trash movies like this one anyway, so in that sense Van Bebber and Co. have achieved their goal with flying colours. Perhaps some of the acting is not the most realistic ever, but I cannot consider that a major flaw in a film that is so heavily focused on the effects of brainwashing and not being in touch with one's regular self.

In a way The Manson Family is a relative of Oliver Stone's controversial media satire Natural Born Killers (1994), but ultimately comes across as sleazier and more nihilistic since the satirical aspect is less pronounced. I am not sure if the filmmakers have taken a lot of artistic license with the presentation of how the actual events took place; in the end it doesn't even matter since the movie never strives to be an accurate portrait of Manson as a person. As an examination of disturbing group psychosis it works enjoyably and is recommended to those into exploitative true crime stories.


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