The Manson Family

Showing at FACT

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Fifteen years in the making, mainly due to lack of financial support, director Jim VanBebber finally brings his docudrama 'Tha Manson Family', the story of Charles Manson and his 'disciples', to British screens.

But it is not a pretty sight, in fact during periods of the second part of the film, which portrays the murderous rampage of the Manson family, it is often repellent. No details are spared in the graphic depiction of people being repeatedly stabbed, even when they are clearly dead, and bodies being cut up, including a six month old embryo inside Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, the wife of film director Roman Polanski, who fortunately for him was away filming when the massacre of his wife and friends toolk place, being gouged from her body.

What is disturbing is the fact that the film does not over sensationalise the bloody letting, not only of Tate and co, but of others who fell victim to 'the family'. These atrocities, commited by drug crazed and ultra
paranoid so-called hippies (which is a contradiction in term), actually took place in all its gory details.

The film switches back and forth between 1969 (when the murders took place) and 1996, where a fictitious TV reporter Jack Wilson is editing a documentary on the Manson family, which includes old and contemporary interviews with 'family' members and reconstructions of what happened.

What sparked off their murder spree? A desperate lack of finance, exacerbated by rampant drug taking, and a hatred of other human beings, notably their abhorrence of black people, especially the militant Black Panthers, as well as a total disregard for 'pig' society in general.

Having read books on Manson - he is still alive and remains regarded with demonic status in the USA - I discovered little new about the events that took place at that time, but for anyone not acqainted with him,this film is worth going to see, if only to see the end of the hippie dream of peace and love to everyone, man, but you must have a strong stomach to get through the film!