Read & Watch Series: Cult Leader Charles Manson and the Manson Family
On a hot August night in 1969 Los Angeles, actress Sharon Marie Tate thought about nothing much more than the impending birth of her baby, which was due in only two weeks. As she turned in for the evening, she had no way of knowing she and her baby would never meet face to face.
In another part of town lived a “spiritual” family on a rundown ranch which, in its heyday, had also served as a movie set for westerns. Their leader was none other than Jesus Christ, as he liked to claim, but most just called him Charlie. He wasCharles Manson.
Charlie controlled his family with sex and drugs; during the use of the latter was when he often philosophized about life and spirituality with sayings such as “No sense makes sense.” Many of his “deep thoughts” were garnered from songs by the Beetles, whom Charlie believed were communicating with him through their lyrics on how to usher in an apocalypse by initiating a war between the races.
And that’s how Sharon Tate came to die along with her friends Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and Jay Sebring in a Hollywood home with “PIG” written on the door in blood and the teenage Steven Parent dead in his car in the driveway.
Next was Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their Los Angeles home; the words “Helter Skelter”, “Rise”, and “Death to Pigs” written about the home in blood.
The bloody words, Charlie said, would lead the police to believe the murders were the work of Black Panther Party members. When their suspicions were announced publicly, it would enrage white people while blacks would be resentful of the accusations.
Although Charlie was good – very good – at controlling his family, for one conscionable young woman, the mind manipulation nor drugs was enough and because of her courage, no one else died at the direction of Charles Manson and a race war never came to be.
The Book: Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
Vincent Bugliosi was the Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted Charles Manson for his role as mastermind behind the homicides along with his three of his minions: Susan Denise Atkins, Charles Denton “Tex” Watson, and Patricia Dianne Krenwinkel. In his 1975 book, Helter Skelter, he outlines the Manson Murders along with previously undisclosed information.
As a result, Bugliosi’s book is absolutely fascinating – even to those who think they know everything about Charles Manson. And that’s not just my opinion obviously, considering the book has had numerous reprints in its 38 years of existence and is frequently noted as the book which first hooked readers on the true crime genre.
The Movie: Helter Skelter (1976)
This 1976 made-for-television movie originally aired as a two-part miniseries. In some countries outside the United States, it was shown in theaters with additional footage that included nudity, language, and graphic violence - at least as considered such by American audiences of the time. Today, Helter Skelter is still an intense movie but quite mild in regards to language and violence by contemporary standards.
The Movie Remake: Helter Skelter (2004)
Marketed as a remake of the 1976 film, 2004's Helter Skelter has little in common with the original.
The newest version focuses more on Charles Manson himself and less on the entirety of the group itself. Viewers become a bit more acquainted with the Ohio-born Manson and how he came to be one of America's most notorious prisoners.
© 2016 Kim Bryan