The Manson Family
Facts and Figures
Run time: 95 mins
In Theaters: Friday 23rd July 2004
Distributed by: Blue Underground
Production compaines: Mercury Films
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
Fresh: 21 Rotten: 10
IMDB: 5.5 / 10
The Manson Family Review
If you're into gore, bloodletting, violence, and orgies, well, have I got a movie for you. Jim Van Bebber's innovative film purports to tell the "inside" story of Manson -- from the viewpoint of his followers then and now. With mock-documentary footage galore (the phony pops, crackles, and scratches are perfect), Van Bebber purports to show us secret footage of Manson family exuberance (love, killing, and both together), mixed in with talking head commentary from Manson family members in the now. They even have the remnants of the carved "X" scars on their foreheads.
While Van Bebber's story feels authentic and -- unquestionably -- it's perfect at mimicing archival footage, it still comes off as little more than an homage to Italian gore horror and Roger Corman. The idea that there's anything here to "understand" about Manson is ludicrous: The film paints Manson as a nutjob, with even crazier followers, all interested in free love, enlightenment, and blood. (Although, in all fairness, this does seem to cut to the core of what Manson is really all about.)
As horror, Manson Family is as shocking as they come, a true feast of flesh made even worse on an unrated DVD (complete with a second disc of making-of footage and documentaries, etc.). Even as hardened as I am to violence after a lifetime of watching slasher flicks, the repeated and realistic scenese of ritual bloodletting made me avert my gaze once or twice.
You have been warned.