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Charles Manson Documentary & Movies Based on the Serial Killer

Updated on July 18, 2021
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Everything you need to know about Charles Manson. From the movies that inspired the horror movies to the documentaries and TV shows..

Why Are Horror Movies Based on Manson, So Darn Scary?

All of the movies in this article are either 'loosely' based on Charles Manson and his crimes or give off a Manson vibe. Some of the narratives in this list of films are the same as true-life accounts of the Manson-led killings.

His name sparks debate due to his lengthy incarceration and his cult following killers. Many of his fans believe Manson's followers committed the crimes, not him. They say he shouldn't have been jailed for life.

He died in 2017, aged 83, and whatever your thoughts on his jail time most agree he is an interesting case.

Included here are tables of information covering Charles Manson documentaries, Charles Manson-inspired films, and quotes.

Was he guilty if he didn't commit the crime himself?

“I'm nobody
I'm a tramp, a bum, a hobo
I'm a boxcar and a jug of wine
And a straight razor ...if you get too close to me”
― Charles Manson

Charles Manson Documentary List

Manson Girls
Starring Charles Manson and Susan Atkins
"Sexy Sadie" aka Susan Atkins deep dive. 40 minutes concentrating on the cults most famous follower.
Manson Cult: The Lost Tapes
Narrated by Liev Schreiber
100 hours of footage and an indepth look into Spahn Ranch. Interviews and police investigations.
Truth and Lies: The Family Manson
An ABC TV episode co-hosted by David Muir and Elizabeth Vargas.
A two hour speical showing a rare interview with Charles Manson.
Show creator Melia Patria
Part of a docuseries with this episode focused on the Manson Girls.
Life After Manson
A 25-minute short film directed by Olivia Klaus.
Follows the life of Patricia Krenwinkel, a membe of the Manson Family. At the age of 66, this Manson documentary shows the woman looking back on her life.
Cease to Exist
An 84-minute Manson documentary directed by Ryan Oksenberg.
Was music a motive for the serial killer Charles Manson?
Inside the Manson Gang
Directed by Robert Hendrickson
Behind the scenes footage of the Manson family and trial personally filmed by Hendrickson.

Best Charles Manson Documentary List

#WolvesattheDoor #Manson #Movies #Horror #Reviews
#WolvesattheDoor #Manson #Movies #Horror #Reviews | Source

Wolves at the Door (2016)

The storyline for Wolves at the Door

Set in 1969, some friends come together to hold a farewell party. All four are systematically stalked by people who seem to have randomly chosen them to torment.

Notable Cast Members

Kate Cassidy is the only one who presented with any filmography I had seen. She has appeared in the TV series Harper's Island and Melrose Place and was featured in Nightmare on Elm Street (2010,) Taken (2008), and Black Christmas (2006.)

Director and Screenplay

John R. Leonetti has smashed out the direction for this and for some other pretty cool movies like:

  • Insidious (2011).
  • The Butterfly Effect 2 (2006).
  • Both "Annabelle" horror movies (one in 2014 and one released in 2017).

Gary Dauberman wrote the screenplay.

What the Critics Thought

This film is described as ‘loosely’ based around the murder of Sharon Tate by cult members led by Charles Manson. Not quite loose at all, the main protagonist, Sharon (played by Kate Cassidy) and is pregnant.

The other characters in the film are also named the same as the people murdered in the original true crime back in 1969.

Critics thought that the depictions of the murders in the film mirroring the real events of the true story was distasteful and written with the wish to exploit a horrible crime. They say it shows no regard to the surviving family members of the victims.

My Rating and Review

Wolves at the Door is brutal and so is the real story. I thought it was a terrifying account of the fateful series of deaths that happened. Charles Manson was a monster and so are his followers. He epitomizes what horror is all about. The pace is on an even keel for most of the film. Through camera long shots featuring the killers in the background and other use of low angles, silhouettes, and menacing covered faces, it resulted in an intensity that lasted throughout the film.

The whole set-up is like a game of hide-and-seek except that only one group is really playing.

I often wonder what motivates people to do evil things to ordinary people. The killers picked the couple so randomly. It sends a chill down your spine. The storytelling of this movie reflects just how random it all is. The acting was particularly believable with Kate Cassidy's performance pinning it all together.

I gave 'The Wolves at the Door' 3.5 knife-wielding psycho's out of 5

'The Wolves at the Door' - Trailer

#Strangers #LivTyler #ScottSpeedman #Movies #Reviews #Horror
#Strangers #LivTyler #ScottSpeedman #Movies #Reviews #Horror | Source

'The Strangers' (2008)

Storyline for The Strangers

Kristen and James arrive at his family’s holiday house after being at a wedding. Due to the events we see in a flashback, they are not in the best of minds. Late in the night there is a knock at the door and a woman asks for Tamara and Kristen tells her she has the wrong house and the woman says;

“see you later.”

James leaves the house to buy cigarettes and while he is gone, events unfold that leave Kristin to believe someone has been in the house. They have. Not only that, the people want James and Kristin dead. It’s a game of survival from there on in.

Notable Cast Members

Due to the masked villains not saying a lot, I wasn't going to mention any of the actors unless they did something spectacular and although the part played by DollFace is surprisingly model Gemma Ward and Mike, played by Glenn Howerton who was in Crank (2006,) they are very much unknown actors apart from the lead characters by Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman and I'm sure people know of them.

Director and Screenplay

Written and directed by Bryan Bertino, although centered on the true crime story, Bertino said in an interview his true inspiration came from something that happened to him while staying in a remote location and Bryan quoted this story:

“As a kid, I lived in a house on a street in the middle of nowhere. One night, while our parents were out, somebody knocked on the front door and my little sister answered it. At the door were some people asking for somebody who didn't live there. We later found out that these people were knocking on doors on the area and, if no one was home, breaking into the houses"

My Rating and Review

This film is great, I mean it is truly scary. It’s 'terror in company' and resonates heavily with the concept that a group of people can terrorize random people for no reason just as Manson did with his followers.

This movie is disturbing at which I may point out – may make me a horror movie degenerate for having thought so highly of it. I have seen this movie multiple times. Then I remember the situational context. I made excuses for James nicking off mid-scene trying to play the hero. Their lack of ability to have a cell phone that works on hand and why they are at the remote cabin in the first place sets the perfect storms' tension.

I felt the casting was well-selected. Liv Tyler always exudes a certain innocence and Scott Speedman has that 'nice-guy' feel about him. It makes sense for him to try to fix the situation.

At times The Strangers have a purpose. As viewers, we want to know what that motivation is. A sequel (The Strangers: Prey at Night) came out in March 2018.

I give 'The Strangers' 4 dead cell phones out of 5.

'The Strangers' - Trailer.

#YoureNext #Movies #HorrorMovies #MansonInspired
#YoureNext #Movies #HorrorMovies #MansonInspired | Source

'You're Next' (2011)

The storyline for You're Next

The Davison’s are a broken family and haven’t had a get-together in a long while. Head of the family is Aubrey and Paul and it’s their wedding anniversary. They invite their children and plus ones to the estate for a dinner party as an opportunity to mend some fences and show some gratitude for their beautiful family.

A gang of animal-masked intruders appears one by one. What do they want and why are they trying to kill them?

Notable Cast Members

All of the cast listed have lengthy if not well-rounded TV and movie filmology. When looking through the cast members it looks like a reunion of V/H/S cast members.


Directed by Adam Wingard, he won critical acclaim for starting a new genre called Acid Horror with his movie called Pop Skull. which has a Manson vibe going on. Adam is coincidentally involved in V/H/S too.

My Rating and Review

This movie has one of the coolest kills scenes ever, which happens when the chaos starts. I would rank it among one of the best; “whoa, I didn’t see that coming," type scenarios in a horror movie ever.

I thought, when I first watched this, it would be a generic horror film. Despite lending itself to many other slasher movies You're Next does it differently.

The characters are all well-played, thought-out nicely and generally likable. Single location horror is not new, but it is good. Some people will find this film predictable but I didn’t. Maybe you won't see the twist coming either.

I think 'You're Next' is worth 4.5 masked assassins out of 5.

Poll! Are You Offended?

Do you find Manson-inspired movies offensive?

See results

Manson Inspired Movies

The Strangers
Helter Skelter
Summer Dreams
Movie: It may seem odd that this is here however one member of the Beach Boys Dennis Wilson met Manson after running into two of his followers and became a fan of the group.
House of Manson
The Manson Family
I Drink Your Blood
Movie: Pretended it wasn't about Manson.
The Helter Skelter Murders
The Manson Massacre
Manson Family Movies
Movie: Almost prequel to Wolves at the Door.
Manson, My Name is Evil
Hunting Charles Manson
Movie: Again a prequel to Wolves at the Door.
Manson Family Vacation
Movie: Not about the event as such but about touring the murder sites.
Manson's Lost Girls
The Wolves at the Door
Once Upson a Time in Hollywood
Charlie Says
The Haunting of Sharon Tate

How can people still be offended writers are making movies about Manson? Look at this list!

#LarryFessenden has starred in some great movies. #TheInvitation #HorrorMovies
#LarryFessenden has starred in some great movies. #TheInvitation #HorrorMovies | Source

Manson Inspired TV Movies and Cartoons

Helter Skelter
Made for TV Movie.
The Ben Stiller Show
A short-lived TV show where Ben Stiller dressed up as Manson and answered questions from ‘jail.’
TV Series.
Live Freaky! Die Freaky
Animation (movie but still a cartoon) - Set in the future where Helter Skelter is the name of the Bible and Manson is the messiah. It is a dark comedy musical.
The Manson Family
Documentary style movie: More a documentary than a movie.
South Park
Cartoon: A Christmas episode where Manson is said to be in need of some Christmas Spirit.

Additional Fun Fact

Is Rob Zombie a Manson Expert?

In House of 1000 Corpses (2003) Rob Zombie references Pat Krenwinkel killing Abigail Folger. There is a sequence called "stab the bunny" which has a visual nod and script hints that refer back to Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry's description of this murder in the book "Helter Skelter."

is your mind blown too?

© 2017 Movie Whisperer


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