Directed & Written by Jim Van Bebber
Produced by Michael King, Jim Van Bebber, Carl Daft & David Gregory
Cinematography by Michael King
Cast: Marcello Games, Marc Pitman, Leslie Orr, Maureen Alisse, Amy Yates, Jim Van Bebber, Tom Burns & Michelle Briggs

2003/93 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
1.33:1/English/US/NTSC Region 1

Review from the Dark Sky Films DVD

The end of the free loving 60's...

The Manson family is largely responsable for the end of the freewheeling, happy living, peace and love era. The psychedelic drugs, free sex, killings and other cruel crimes turned this small group of young adults into a menacing force led by Charles Manson. You've all heard about it or read about it but now it's time to witness the story through another, more realistic point of view.

Director Jim Van Bebber's decade long in the making movie is finally avaible. I first saw a workprint back at the Fantasia Film Festival in 1997, the theater was packed and the film delivered but it works much more today. With THE MANSON FAMILY, Van Bebber concentrated the movie mostly on the whole family aspect of the clan. Sure Manson was their "leader" but pretty much everyone was involved at some point in the crimes they commited.

In the movie, TV personality Jim Wilson is working on a documentary about the Manson family. He wants the public to learn that the people in the family (Tex, Leslie, Sadie, Clem, Bobby, Linda and Patty) are as responsible for the sadistic events that happened as Charles Manson is. We get "footage" of the Manson family members talking today about what happened intecut with scenes from the late 1960's in which according to Van Bebber really happened. Sure, THE MANSON FAMILY has a very exploitation feel to it but the way it is edited and built gives it a almost too real feel and look. Van Bebber didn't glamorized the family or Manson, he tried to give us a more human, raw and dirty look at what happened during this summer of '69. Its also interesting to note that we don't see how they killed Sharon Tate’s unborn baby, simply because it wasn't a necessity since we all knew about it. My only problem about the whole movie is the new "cult" thing with today's kids avenging Manson. The whole goth thing is mostly based on look and attitude but for me it comes out as a joke (sorry if I offended anyone!). Sure for some fiftheen years old it might be a "way of life", but for a grown-up adult?! Come on! If I would have made that movie these scenes wouldn't be there and its the reason for me why I can't rate this movie higher.

If there's one thing that i'm happy with the release of THE MANSON FAMILY is that with all the mainstream media coverage this movie gets, people will realise how talented director Jim Van Bebber is. Its time for him to make another movie. The guy gave us great flicks like DEADBEAT AT DAWN, MY SWEET SATAN and cool promos for stuff like ROADKILL. He really need to make another movie... soon!

Dark Sky Films have released THE MANSON FAMILY on DVD. The movie is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and it is filled with scratches and defects to take us back to the time of the events within the film. It is part of the whole concept of the movie and gives it a more documentary feel. We get the choice of either a 5.1 Dolby Digital or a Dolby Digital Stereo tracks. Both of them are clear, loud, crisp and clear and give the movie the whole audiophonic atmosphere it needs. Optional English subtitles are avaible. On the first disc we have two trailers, a production still gallery and a huge behind-the-scenes still gallery.

The second disc features some of the best extras ever seen on a DVD edition. First of all there's the very interesting and informative 75 minutes documentary by Blue Underground called "The VanBebber Family". This documentary takes a look at all the history, turmoil and story around the making of the movie. We get interviews with most of the cast and crew, lots of behind-the-scenes footage and more. Next is the very good 75 minutes "In the Belly of the Beast" documentary that takes a look at the 1997 Fantasia Film Festival and undeground cinema in general. Yes, THE MANSON FAMILY is features here but was then known as CHARLIE'S FAMILY. It was also the first time I actually saw Jom VanBebber's film. A GUN FOR JENNIFER, AFTERMATH and SUBCONCIOUS CRUELTY are also part of this documentary. Finally, there's some clip from the CHARLES MANSON SUPERSTAR documentary that features interviews with the man behind all the madness.

The movie is separated in 15 chapters and features nicely designed and appropriately devilish menus. It comes in a transparent keep case but with no booklet or inlay card. This is without a doubt one of the best DVD edition of the year for one of the most anticipated genre movie of the past 10 years.





This Film Features:

Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©

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