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USA: Dinsdale Releasing
UK: Anchor Bay Entertainment UK
Cast: Marcelo Games, Marc Pitman, Leslie Orr, Sage Stallone, Maureen Allisse, Samuel Turcotte, Amy Yates, Jim Van Bebber, Tom Burns, Michelle Briggs, Sherri Rickman, Nate Pennington, M M Jones, Carl Day, Jim Sayer, Mark Gillespie, Paul Harper
Director: Jim Van Bebber
USA & UK: 95 mins
UK Certificate: 18 contains strong sex, bloody violence and horror, and drugs use
USA Release Date: 22 October 2004 (Limited Release - New York)
UK Release Date: 23 July 2004
August 9 & 10, 1969. This date annually marks the anniversary of two nights of murder and mayhem historically called the Manson murders. Since that time the public and the media have never ceased in their fascination with this bizarre case. Newspapers, magazines and television all follow the continuing saga of Charles Manson and his followers. Countless books and motion pictures declare to document, "just what happened". To varying degrees, most fail. Today the Manson phenomenon is more sensational and startling than it was 30 some years ago.
Charles Manson and the family were the cult who killed the 60's. Jim Van Bebber's epic independent feature paints the most accurate and uncompromising picture of the most infamous cult of all time and the crimes that shook the world.
The fictitious TV show Crime Scene has conducted new jailhouse interviews with the members of Charlie's Family as they recollect the events of the Summer of '69. Although the participants, Tex, Sadie, Lesley and Bobbie, often contradict one another to either show themselves vaguely as innocents or to sensationalize the story even further, the portrait of the 60's ideals of freedom and expression are twisted beyond recognition. The new interviews are interspersed with devastatingly authentic dramatic recreations of the mythical Manson family movies. It starts with a group of innocent youths forming a commune, smoking pot, dropping acid, making love and making music. But when their leader, Charlie, is rejected as an artist and money starts to become tight, the kids have to turn around their lifestyle in order to survive. The acid trips become darker and the drug-induced rhetoric turns violent. Charlie believes himself to be a Christ figure and starts to get a tighter and tighter grip over his followers. The cult will stop at nothing to send their message of evil to the world. Then, over two nights, members of the cult indulge in arguably the most sadistic murders in American history, leading to a major media trial and the creation of the 60's blackest icon; just as Woodstock, long hair and bell-bottoms were symbols of the love generation, so the bearded face and swastika tattoo symbolize the era's poison.
The production of Jim Van Bebber's film has become legendary since the first day of shooting way back in 1989. The screenplay has been published (Creation Books, London) but the film seemed cursed to never be completed because despite financial hardships the filmmaker has refused to compromise the ultimate portrait of the American nightmare. Finally, the film was completed in 2003. The Manson Family has become one of the most talked about and eagerly anticipated independent horror films of the last decade. Be warned, once seen this film will not be forgotten.