Fifteen years in the making, Jim Van Bebber’s cinematic masterpiece will go down as one of the greatest artistic achievements to come out of the American cinema underground. Telling the true story of the Manson murders in the late 60’s, it deals with the young men and women who were seduced into the cult, only briefly dealing with Manson himself. The performances range from creaky to believable, and while you’re watching it you’ll start wondering just what kind of drugs these people were taking during the filming. As an indie filmmaker, I can tell you it’s hard as hell to get people to even shed their clothes, yet these people not only do so but have simulated orgies, in what is probably the craziest scene in the movie, covered in fake blood and in the middle of a cane field. It’s something that must be seen to be believed.
I remember the first time I saw it, I was laughing to myself just from how incredible it was. It’s too bad the rest of the film as follows is dark as hell, and there’s nothing funny about the Tate/LaBianca murders, as they were shot. The movie also features many visual influences from movies of the late 60’s/early 70’s, the most recognizable one being the scenes in the waterfall which resemble Easy Rider.
But of course, the most interesting part of the film isn’t the content, but the making of the film. Jim Van Bebber spent, worked, suffered and nearly died trying to finish the film, selling blood and nearly going insane trying to make his dream project come true. To hell with Robert Rodriguez, this guy’s the true indy-guerrilla filmmaker. All in all, it was all for good, this is one of the greatest films ever made and deserves to be seen by a wider audience.