50 years after the conviction of the Manson Family comes new six-part EPIX Docu-Series HELTER SKELTER: AN AMERICAN MYTH, new episodes airing every Thursday on Hollywood Suite starting February 11, 2021.
With the Oscar-winning success of Quentin Tarantino‘s ONCE UPON A TIME.. IN HOLLYWOOD, and also a Novel on the way based on the Film, the public still is proving to be fascinated by Charles Manson and his pack of devotees – among those a few who carried out the murders of Actress Sharon Tate and four others in 1969. The Manson Family also were responsible for a number of other crimes including murder.
The Series, directed by Lesley Chilcott (Watson, An Inconvenient Truth) is a comprehensive study of Manson and his Family members and through subject matters experts like Biographer Jeff Guinn and Journalist Ivor Davis, people who knew Manson, his actual followers and archived interview footage, we get a complete picture of one of the most fascinating criminals in history.
Chilcott seeks to understand how failed Musician Manson came to be one of America’s most famous criminals and cult leaders. We go all the way back to his childhood where he was separated at a young age from his parents who were incarcerated for a petty crime and thus, began a cycle of him spending his youth in detention centres, escalating to time in some of the nation’s toughest institutions. We come to learn that prison is actually where he feels most at home because this is where he grew-up literally and where his friendships were formed. In this regard, the Docu-Series offers a balanced approach as even with so much known about Manson, it offers still some shocking and surprising insights. With the amount of detail we get, we really have a renewed appreciation for how many facts Tarantino got exact in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.
But how does he go on to be able to influence others on the scale he did? And this gets explored and is attributed to a course he had taken in an effort to get a fresh start in life.
Manson often targeted a certain vulnerability in the young women he recruited, tapping into something deep within their psyche providing the promise of a new start and validation. While things didn’t initially start off violent, matters escalated when Manson became convinced America was on the verge a Race War, forming alliances that would secure him access to weapons. He had convinced his followers that he was a manifestation of Christ and would be the one to guide them through salvation.
Through re-enactments, interviews and footage, Chilcott places us back to the era and it feels we are back in time when Manson first shocked a nation, making something that happened 50 years ago still feel very real. While the earlier episodes do a great job setting things up, the latter episodes which feature Davis that really dive deep. Davis wrote Manson Exposed: A Reporter’s Fifty-Year Journey into Madness and Murder, and truly was there on the front lines following the story during his tenure and he understands the collateral damage of those impacted by the murders.
Most of our fears approaching this Docu-Series was that we would be subject to disturbing images and re-enactments, and we’re thankful there isn’t too much of that, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t at the edge of our seat the entire way.
More here on the Series and airtimes on Hollywood Suite.