Helter Skelter

Year: 2004
Directed By: John Gray
Written By: Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry (book) and John Gray (screenplay)


I don’t know that there has ever been a crazier or more dangerous person to walk the face of the Earth than Charles Manson. What I don’t understand is why a movie made about him wasn’t made for the big screen and ended up as a made for TV movie.  That turned out to be a great thing though because otherwise Jeremy Davies probably wouldn’t have gotten the part.  Davies has the look of a psychotic in his eyes, when he turns them on you he invokes fear.  Though small, like Manson, he manages to be such an intimidating and enigmatic character. He brings this story to life as the main character and I think he gave a performance that needs more recognition. Davies is also really great in the FX TV series Justified where he plays Dickie Bennett.

What makes Manson so scary is that he didn’t even have to do these awful random acts of violence himself.  He manipulated and controlled several people that would do his bidding without question. Making it even scarier was that the kids he managed to pull into his influence weren’t all rejected kids looking for acceptance. A few of them were very popular kids with seemingly bright futures ahead of them. One of them was even famous; I am referring of course to Dennis Wilson, the Beach Boy. Manson had them all thinking he was Jesus and going to lead them through a crisis called “Helter Skelter.” If I remember correctly, Manson believed The Beatles were sending him messages through their music and that song spoke to him or something.  Manson is an example of evil in this world, and the possibilities it can entail. These acts were so horrific, the victims were so unlucky to be the ones who Manson chose to terrorize and kill. He was trying to insight a race war that would decide the fate of the world or something along those lines.  The guy was crazy as shit to say it plainly, crazy enough to make you get up and lock your doors when you think about him.  You never know when another Charles Manson will rise up and make our greatest fears a reality.

The problem with Manson is that he is such a fascinating person that we all fall under to his spell to an extent.  We want to understand more about him but you just can’t understand crazy.  It’s the show he puts on, the possibilities, the unknown as to what he will say or do.  He is truly insane and famous for it.  He might say or do anything given the opportunity and we all find ourselves curious as to what it might be. I really fear what a guy like this could do in today’s world.  With the potential to reach so many more people through networks like Twitter and Facebook.  The world has changed so much but people haven’t necessarily changed very much.  There are evil people out there and eventually someone crazier will take the stage.  It’s a terrifying prospect but a chance that lurks in the dark corners of society.

Part of this movie does focus on Roman Polanski who was the biggest victim of the Manson family really.  He wasn’t murdered but he had to go on living with the murders.  With the loss of his child that was so close to being born, and his wife being murdered for no real reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Roman Polanski is a controversial figure today and I will be honest in saying I do not know enough about what he did to weigh in appropriately. Although I know enough about Polanski to pity the life he has had to endure.  Yes he has achieved great success in his field but he hasn’t had it easy at all.  He is a Holocaust survivor for crying out loud.  It is hard enough to have survived one of the most awful events in the history of the modern era but he then had to go on and be the victim of such a horrible crime.  I can’t imagine what it must have been like for him but this movie really makes me feel his pain.  To have to go through it with the media scrutinizing the situation so heavily must have been truly awful. I know a little about what Polanski did to get in trouble but not enough to think ill of him. To be honest I think I avoid finding out the real story specifically because I don’t want a reason to dislike Polanski.  The man has simply gone through too much to have me as one more person judging him.

This is an awesome movie and it tells a story about one of the craziest things that has happened in this country during the twentieth century.  As it goes with all movies based on a true story this movie is pickled with inaccuracies but in the end it is close enough to the truth that it doesn’t really matter. If you enjoy this movie I would suggest you research some into the real version of the events as they happened.  As good as this story is the real story is even more insane.  I think this movie is worth your time and would strongly suggest you see it if you haven’t had the chance yet.


This movie is completely scary and creepy in every way. I was immediately drawn into it the first time I watched it about it 3 years ago. This is one of the best made for TV movies I have seen. It is almost like a movie version of E! True Hollywood Story. (And I love that stuff) After watching this movie the first time, I wikipedia-ed Charles Manson and read about the real life events. The man is seriously crazy in every way. I think this movie depicted him in a very true way. The other members of the “Manson Family” were also portrayed really well. This is a great movie if you are interested in movies that depict real life events. It gives you an insight to the madness that was Charles Manson.

NEXT MOVIE: Highway (2002)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s