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Helter Skelter (1976).

May 13, 2008

The Scoop:
The original adaptation of Vincent Bugliosi’s book about prosecuting members of the Manson Family for the Tate-LaBianca murders of 1969 goes light on the crime and heavy on the investigation.

Originally a TV miniseries, part one details the gathering of evidence in the wake of the murders, and part two covers the trial. Not only is it incredibly self-serving to Bugliosi (played by George DiCenzo), but the voice-over narration of passages from the book make this sound as stiff as an episode of “Dragnet.” And, even worse, second rate cover versions (by the band Silverspoon) are used instead of the original Beatles songs that fueled Manson’s bizarre philosophy.

But on the plus side, Steve Railsbeck gives a definitive performance as Charles Manson. That alone makes it still worth a look after all these years.

Best Bit:
During a courtroom sidebar, Bugliosi stops the proceedings to remind the defense attorney how to pronounce his name: “No, the ‘G’ is silent. It’s pronounced ‘Boo-lee-oh-see.'”

Side Note:
The LaBianca murder sequence was shot on location at the crime scene, in the actual LaBianca house.

Companion Viewing:
“In Cold Blood” (1967).

Links:
IMDb.
CharlieManson.com.
Book excerpt.

Take a Look:
A TV promo:

Railsbeck delivers Manson’s courtroom speech:

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