Synopsis by Mark Deming
Filmmaker Jim Van Bebber, who earned a reputation as one of the most distinctive and uncompromising artists in underground horror with his low-budget feature Deadbeat at Dawn and a series of powerful short subjects and music videos, directed this disquieting look at some of the most brutal and infamous crimes of the 20th century. Jack Wilson (Carl Day) is a television reporter who in 1996 is working on a documentary about Charles Manson and the 1969 murders he was convicted of helping to mastermind. Manson (Marcelo Games) was a wandering ne'er do well with a long prison record when, in 1967, he was released and made his way to Los Angeles as the "Summer of Love" was getting into full swing. A charismatic aspiring musician, Manson soon attracted a flock of hangers-on who became known as "Charlie's Family." Thanks to Manson's tenuous friendship with Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson (Steve Riley) and their resourceful ability to "find" food and clothing, the family was able to keep body and soul together while Manson attempted to make a name for himself in the music business; meanwhile, Charlie's mostly female followers used sex and drugs to get what they needed or wanted from others, and would occasionally dive into dumpsters for food when all else failed. But what began as an exercise in neo-hippie collectivism centered around sex, drugs and good times began to take a sinister turn as Manson exerted a greater hold over the family, and used his leadership toward troubling ends, leading to rape, armed robbery, and gruesome violence. When Bobby (Van Bebber), a member of the family, was arrested for murder, Manson believed his apocalyptic prophesies of race war and worldwide catastrophe were coming true, and he organized a series of murders which he believed would throw the conflict into high gear, using his followers to do his bloody bidding. In production since 1988, The Manson Family was screened in rough cut form as Charlie's Family in 1997, but remained uncompleted until home-video outfit Blue Underground agreed to finance post-production, and the film received its official European premiere at the 2003 London FrightFest Festival.
commune, ranch, cult, drugs, hallucinogenic-drug, LSD, marijuana, infamy, killing, murder, orgy, sex