A private applies to be a test subject for the military's new chemical weapons program. After many tests he decides to use his knowledge on chemical warfare to rob banks. He will need a partner, though.
After a nuclear attack kills everyone, the last man on earth, going mad from loneliness and isolation, creates a companion in his mind. He soon finds himself living a lie when his imaginary world builds up into something complex.
Chris (Aimée Eccles) is not getting along with boyfriend Sandor (Solomon Sturges) and has an affair with parole officer Dennis (Jeff Pomerantz). Dennis invites the couple to dinner with his... See full summary »
War veterans visit a lakeside cabin for a week of shooting, drinking, etc. but find the cabin being looked after by a young caretaker named David. When David's status as a war deserter is revealed, all hell breaks loose.
An elderly man sits in a pub on a summer Sunday afternoon. At another table, four middle-aged ladies play cards and sing to themselves in a low voice. The publican is scandalized by a young... See full summary »
A patchy but nonetheless intriguing depiction of the August 8th Manson family murders
I first heard of 'The Helter Skelter Murders' (under its alternative title 'The Other Side of Madness') when reading about the 8/8/88 Satanic rally, organised by Zeena (daughter of Anton) LaVey and founder of the Werewolf Order Niclaus Schreck. During that rally, held on the anniversary of the Tate slayings, the movie was shown and when the depiction of the murders began the crowd actually cheered. Whilst certainly ghoulish, I was nonetheless intrigued and sought out the movie and soon saw why it was chosen: the film is a grimy, low-budget, quasi-documentary style exploitation movie shot mostly in black and white which gives it a creepy and authentic feel. The first half is a bizarre collection of scenes including a (pretty cool-looking) desert rock concert, life on Spahn ranch (where Manson and his family lived), court-room scenes, and, in the movie's only colour scene, a fairytale introduction to Sharon Tate. Actually, this first half is not particularly well-done as the aforementioned scenes don't gel together and, crucially, even though it was presumably made to cash-in on the notoriety of the Manson Murders, which were then very much in the news, apart from a few shots of vaguely Manson-looking guy and a recording of Manson's 'Mechanical Man' (not his best composition by a long shot) there is very little mention of Charlie and little-to-no development of the various members of his family who appear in the court-room scenes. However, it's with the shift to the second half that you really see the appeal to LaVey and Schreck as the whole remainder of the film is given over to a detailed, brutal, and drawn-out recollection of the Tate murders by one of the defendants. This section is quite well directed as it takes its time, building tension which is accentuated by the fact that we know what will happen but we don't know when the movie will show it (and how much it intends to show) and it certainly doesn't disappoint when it kicks off. It's unsettling to think that the scenes drew cheers from people and, for me, this knowledge added an uncomfortable post-script to an already uncomfortable viewing experience. All told, the movie is an interesting addition to the Manson mythology although just barely managing to raise itself above its limitations by the impact of the murder scene. Gruesome and sensationalist it may be, but then so were the murders it depicts.
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