The Manson Family
By Marcus Pan
This is, easily, one of the most brutal
films Ive ever watched. There were numerous stops while I was watching it
to save other members of the family from having to deal with the graphic work
of director VanBebber as portrayed here. The Manson Family, possibly one
of the more truthful takes on the Charles Manson murders, was fifteen years in
the making. Following Jim VanBebbers 80s period success with
Deadbeat at Dawn and his music video direction with acts like the
infamous Skinny Puppy, The Manson Family was begun in 1988 as a project
called Charlies Family and with funding issues and the like
was piecemealed until its release in 2003. It made it to double-DVD on April
26, 2005 in R and unrated editions. The latter was sent to me.
The Manson Family is frighteningly brutal in its
depiction of Charlies rise from obscure druggie to leader of a near-cult
family at the Spahn Ranch in California. It spends more time than
other depictions of the family covering the earlier period of time prior to the
worldwide-known Tate-LaBianca murders on August 9, 1969. The loving nature of
Charlie Manson, which served to bring other people within the circle of his
influence, is portrayed. The constant drug use is plainly displayed and the
outward sexual conduct is clearly shown. The unrated version of The Manson
Family that I have would probably garner an NC-17 if the movie industry had
Youll notice Mansons increased paranoia and
violence as his record contact bails and his fear of race war builds. Hes
gone from preaching freedom and love at the onset of the movie to hatred and
superiority by the time members of the family make their sadistic run to the
home where the pregnant Sharon Tate and her cohorts were that evening.
Throughout and during the portrayal of the pre-70s years, VanBebber also ties
in mockumentaries and a vicious plot line following some modern day family
wanna-bes in modern days, bringing all three pieces of stand-alone film
together into a vicious climactic ending.
Cinematography and imagery hovers from surreal to sadistic,
depending on how far in the film you are and what piece of the tri-run
plotlines youre viewing. The movie degenerates into evil as it
progresses, the scenery and cinematography getting darker and more twisted as
we move along. VanBebbers use of the camera is excellent and his visions
are extremely fierce and terrifying.
The Manson Family is a brilliant film and has all the
catches common to slasher era horror. What sets it apart from all the others is
one simple and impossible to overlook fact the events of The Manson
Family are not fiction. No Hannibal Lechter, Leatherface or Jason VorHees
can touch Charlie Manson. The former three slashed things in fiction only
Charlie and his family did it in our world. And that adds a note of
terror that far surpasses others.
Dark Sky Films
Post: MPI Media Group, 16101 S 108th Ave., Orland Park, IL, 60467,
Click to Buy!