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.
The public’s thirst for information about Serial Killers continues. I don’t know if you saw NIGHT STALKER recently on Netflix or not, but a spree of murders in 1985 can prove just as haunting and worthy of re-examination today. 2019’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood and Quentin Tarantino‘s upcoming Novel about that Film, prove we still are intrigued. Hollywood Suite announce a six-part Docu-Series HELTER SKELTER: AN AMERICAN MYTH which explores Charles Manson and his “family” brutally murdering nine people in 1969. The series looks at why the Manson “Family” still permeates our culture, media and fears.
An Overview of each episode:
Episode 1 – Charles Manson is Your Brother – Thursday, February 11 at 9pm ET
In the series premiere, he orchestrated the most sensational murders of the 20th century, but how much do we really know about Charles Manson and the Family? Helter Skelter goes back to the 1960s to reveal the untold story of the enigmatic cult leader and his band of followers who did his bidding – even when it meant killing nine people in the summer of 1969. His story has become legend, but the truth has yet to be told…
Episode 2 – The Seed – Thursday, February 18 at 9pm ET
Helter Skelter travels back in time to the desperate early days in Appalachia when Manson was first exposed to prison when his young mother was sent away. Travel along Charles Manson’s sordid journey through reform school, jail and prison as he picks up the tools, he will ultimately bring together to commit the most sensational murders of the 20th century.
Episode 3 – Nobody Joins a Cult – Thursday, February 25 at 9pm ET
Fresh out of prison, aspiring musician Charles Manson finds himself in San Francisco during the Summer of Love. There, he uses the tools he learned behind bars to recruit followers to his growing traveling commune. Helter Skelter follows Manson as he takes average teens and young adults and puts them through the change. As he travels from the streets of Haight Ashbury to Los Angeles, partying with A-Listers, producers and rock royalty we see that his seductive message might entice just about anyone in a vulnerable place.
Episode 4 – Out of Eden – Thursday, March 4 at 9pm ET
To his followers, Charles Manson is the second coming of Christ, that belief reinforced by subliminal messages he receives through the Beatles’ White Album. But by the summer of 1969, a mythical race war, delusions of stardom, and bad drug deals leave the cult leader struggling to keep his family together. Helter Skelter reveals how, through intense programming, physical abuse, group sex, and tests of death, Manson finally convinces his followers to “do something witchy,” which can only mean one thing.
Episode 5 – Same Bad Mistakes – Thursday, March 11 at 9pm ET
A desperate Charles Manson escapes with his Family to a desert hideout. There, prison camp-like conditions force two of the girls to make a life-or-death escape attempt. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is paralyzed with fear as the police fumble the investigation. But then Manson unexpectedly helps brings his reign of terror to an end. When a jailhouse confession comes to light, Helter Skelter reveals how the pieces of the puzzle finally come together for the law.
Episode 6 – The Legend of Helter Skelter – Thursday, March 18 at 9pm ET
The most sensational trial of the 20th century finds a judge attacked on the bench, a daily circus of interruptions, a missing defense attorney, and a gallery of young girls blindly following Charles Manson in trying to derail the prosecution. Fifty years later, why does the man, his myth, his Family continue to horrify and also fascinate us? Has Manson finally found the attention and fame he so craved? Helter Skelter explores the aftermath of the murders that gripped the world, and why the myth of Charles Manson should cease to exist.
HELTER SKELTER: AN AMERICAN MYTH premieres Thursday, February 11at 9pm ET only on Hollywood Suite, with a new episode premiering weekly through March 18, 2021. Each episode will be available on demand.