Monday, May 22, 2017

Black and white biker gangs battle for turf in Laurence Merrick’s “Black Angels”

By Bryan Thomas on November 25, 2016 - nightflight.com

Laurence Merrick's Black Angels -- about a white motorcycle gang versus a black motorcycle gang in a film simply jam-packed with absurdities, semi-authenticities, and some ass-kickin' action! — is now streaming as part of our Something Weird collection on Night Flight Plus!


Laurence Merrick didn't direct too many movies, and he's actually probably best known for co-directing the legendary 1972 documentary Manson with Robert Hendrickson, which featured interviews with the Manson Family before and after the shocking murders that rocked the nation in 1969. It ended up garnering an Academy Award nomination for Best Feature-Length Documentary.

Merrick was also well-known in Hollywood for his acting school, the Merrick Studio Academy of Dramatic Acting, and for the fact that one of his students, Sharon Tate, would later be killed by members of Manson's Family, during August of 1969, the same year he spent fourteen days directing Black Angels.


In fact — in yet another example of the parallels that existed between Southern California's biker and hippie countercultures -- members of Manson's Family would occasionally drop by Paramount Ranch, located at 2813 Cornell Road, in Agoura, California, and visit the set while Merrick and his cast and crew were filming scenes.

(The same thing also happened during the filming of The Girls from Thunder Strip at Spahn Ranch, which is now part of Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park, where members of the Family would drop in at lunchtime and beg for food from the production crew and cast... we told you about that here).




In 1960, Merrick — who served in the Army of Defense for Israel — was sent to the U.S. to speak in support of Zionism, and while he was fundraising in New York City, he met his future wife, a dark-haired aspiring Broadway showgirl and wannabe actress named Joan Huntington.

Together they came out to the west coast, and set up the Merrick Studio, located at 870 N. Vine St. in Hollywood, California, and for a time it was an inexpensive place for actors (like the great Geoffrey Lewis!) to learn lessons about their craft.

The Merricks were subsidized by the government too, which enabled them to make a lot of money running the school. They bought a nice house in Beverly Hills and then decided to put their studio profits towards making their own movies, which they could then cast with students from the school, a win-win situation for everybody.


Merrick's wife — who continued with her acting career, and was nearly chosen to play Morticia on TV's The Addam's Family -- came to see the movies they were making as training exercises, while her more business-minded husband thought more about the potential financial windfall for their production company, Merrick International Films, selling the films to distributors for even more big bucks.

He also liked the fact that since he had no one bossing him around, he could be as experimental as he wanted, since he didn't have a movie company or studio head interfering with his creative process, and so he applied his experimental ideas, mainly to the camerawork, on each of the films he shot.

The Merrick's first project, made in late '68, was what Merrick would later refer to as a nudie cutie, a relatively plotless short film that featured three buxom housewives on the prowl for men. It wasn't very good, and Merrick didn't even bother to give it a title or a credit sequence.


Their next effort, an odd little vampire movie called Guess What Happened to Count Dracula?, fared better than their short nudie cutie, although Merrick was so inexperienced that he didn't realize he was supposed to say Action! at the beginning of every scene and was surprised to find his cinematographer, Robert Caramico, waiting on him to do so in order to begin operating the camera.

The movie featured several of Merrick's students in key parts, and chiefly concerned what happened to Dracula's son, Count Adrian (Des Roberts, who plays the vampire while sporting a wicked John Carradine-style goatee). Roberts and his musical partner, Andy Wilder, also provided the film's musical score.

The film was shot at the Magic Castle in the Hollywood Hills, a mansion built in the 1920s which had been renovated for performances by magicians.

One of Merrick's students owned the place, and had invited Merrick and his wife over for dinner, which left a lasting impression, and when the couple began thinking of locations where they could shoot their Dracula movie, they both remembered the Magic Castle, which was just about to undergo a renovation.

As you might expect, quite a lot of the movie is devoted to magic tricks performed by members of the Magic Academy, the castle's troupe in residence.


The movie also contains a subplot straight out of the then recent box office smash Rosemary's Baby, when one character -- an actor named Guy (just as John Cassavetes's character was in Roman Polanski's film), played by John Landon -- is all too willing to sell his soul in return for being given a successful acting career.

It's also interesting to note that Merrick's film features a surprise ending that was clearly inspired by Polanski's previous film, 1967's The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck, when Polanski's future wife Sharon Tate sprouts fangs in the film.

Merrick's Dracula movie was later released in Europe in an adults only version which featured more nudity and sex, courtesy of performances by Olga Copa and someone named Horror-Charlie.

The additional nude scenes were shot by Mario d'Alcala, who was given the sole credit as director for the European-distributed version of the film on the poster. The film was in distributed in Germany as Lüsterne Vampire, and in France as Dracula Vampire Sexuel.



For his next film, Laurence Merrick realized that outlaw biker flicks were all the rage, and so he began developing the film which we present to you here on Night Flight Plus.


Wanting to also cash in on the fairly new phenomenon of Blaxploitation, Merrick's script focuses on two biker gangs at each other's throats, a white motorcycle gang called Satan's Serpents — led by Chainer (once again played by Merrick's favorite leading man, Des Roberts) — and a black motorcycle gang, called the Choppers (their leader was played by Bobby Johnston, whose biggest role previous to this one was as a prison guard in In Cold Blood).

The film's title, Black Angels is actually the name attributed to the highway patrolmen who observe the two rival biker gangs from a distance, waiting for the race-motivated war for turf to explode.


Merrick recruited a real black biker gang to play the Choppers in order to provide authenticity.


The main plot concerns one Black Angel in particular -- a lieutenant for the highway patrol named Harper (Clancy Syrko, who also edited the film) -- who wants to see all of the biker gangs wiped off the the face of the earth, and he plots to pit the two gangs against each other so they will end up in a race war leading to both of them being destroyed.

A renegade racist Southern biker named Johnny Reb (John King III) is just the man to help Harper have his wish fulfilled, and he becomes a member of the Serpents after Chainer kills a black biker, which, of course, sets the two gangs on a mission to kill each other as fast as possible.


Reb starts spouting off racist slurs when the Serpents stop off to have a beer and are served by a black waitress, but that's when Chainer tells him their conflict with the Choppers is over turf, not skin color.

Chainer then gets to deliver the movie's best line: This country is getting so you can't have a decent fight with a black man without somebody making it out to be about race.

When the Choppers nearly kill the Serpents' leader during an ambush, Reb ends up saving Chainer's life, and this calls for a party, only they find out too late that the bag of pills that Johnny Reb has handed out at the party aren't uppers, they're downers, sending the Serpents on a bummer of a trip.


Reb almost gets away with the sabotage it until a biker named Frenchy (John Donovan) reveals to Reb that he knows what's going on, but Frenchy pays the ultimate price for telling Reb what he knows, which then stars a white-on-black biker race-driven battle for turf while Lieutenant Harper looks on from atop a hill in the distance.

It's interesting to note that this film's concept of pitting white against black in a race war, in the year 1969, is very similar in some respects to Manson's concept which he called Helter Skelter, an apocalyptic war arising from racial tensions between blacks and white, which he believed was foretold in Chapter 9 of the book of Revelations in the bible (as well as hidden messages he believed he heard in the Beatles' Revolution #9).

Makes you wonder what kinds of conversations they were having at Paramount Ranch between members of the cast and crew and some of Manson's followers.


There were also many interesting cameo appearances, including a real member of Charles Manson's gang,  Mark Ross (he plays Singer), who later claimed to write a theme song for the film that was never used (the original rock music soundtrack contains several decent instrumentals and songs in assorted styles, some performed by Smokey Roberds, previously of soft rock band The Parade).

There's also an appearance by Merrick's oldest acting student, Sumner Spector, who also appeared in the 1971 Warren Oates film Chandler.


An interesting sidenote is the fact that one of the bikers happened to have a cougar as a pet, and the Merricks thought it would be fun to put the big cat in a scene or two (their previous film, Count Dracula?, had also featured a similar appearance by a big cat). Merrick's wife was a little concerned about the presence of a cougar on set, as she'd brought their nine year old son Adam to the Paramount Ranch location, and sure enough, the cougar did jump at their son.

Merrick — who shot the film in and around Paramount Ranch, and some surface streets in L.A., in just fourteen days -- experimented even more on Black Angels than he had on Count Dracula?, adding subjective shots from a biker's P.O.V. which give the viewer the feeling they too were hurtling along on the highway on a motorcycle.

He also sped up a chase scene at the beginning of the film which makes the entire world look like it's comically spinning in fast motion.


The film features all kinds of pissed off biker-on-biker punchouts and Evel Knievel-ish action scenes, lots of horizontal topless biker babes (slightly NSFW) and just about anything else you'd expect from a low-budget 70s biker film shot on a shoestring budget.

The film's tagline God forgives, the Black Angels don't!, incidentally, was borrowed from the hugely successful 1967 Italian spaghetti western, God Forgives… I Don't.

Another tagline — and perhaps another reference to Manson? -- was A portrait of the family.

Speaking of Manson and his family, again, it was during the film's production that Merrick was invited to head over to Spahn Ranch, with a 16mm camera, in order to film the Manson family on their own turf.

Merrick also shot footage of them at Devil's Canyon, their Barker Ranch hideout in Death Valley, and then later — during the Manson trial — at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles, in addition to other locations.

Much of this footage would end up being included in the 1973 documentary Manson, which is why Merrick initially shared the director credit with Robert Hendrickson (who these days doesn't mention Merrick on the film's official website, but this original poster lists Merrick as the film's sole director).


Years later, Manson was banned from being screened in the U.S. by order of Judge Thomas McBride, the District Court judge presiding in the case of Lynette "Squeaky Fromme" -- who had attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford -- in order to preserve Fromme's constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial. Hendrickson became and still is the only U.S. citizen to have had his U.S. Constitutional right to “free speech” set aside.

The legal matter was taken by the ACLU to the Supreme Court. In 2001, Manson was the subject of the Federal Court’s “first impression” decision regarding the legal interpretation of liability under provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the DMCA).


After Manson lost the Academy Award to the fundamentalist exposé Marjoe (about televangelist turned b-movie actor Marjoe Gortner, another Night Flight fave), Laurence Merrick became the first president of Independent Screen Producers, Inc., a film market intended to promote independent filmmakers.

It later grew into the largest film market in the world, and today is called the Independent Film and Television Alliance.


Then, in 1977, Merrick's life would intersect fatally with a potential acting student named Dennis Mignano, who — much like Manson himself — had really wanted to have a music career, but when that didn't pan out, the struggling rock singer decided to take acting lessons.

That decision had led him straight to Merrick Studio -- which by now was teaching classes in acting, directing and cinematography -- where he applied to be a student.

He believed that Merrick — due to his association with Manson, bikers, and magic — was the perfect person to help him launch a successful acting career (Mignano had reportedly been obsessed with magic as a child).

Mignano filled out an application to be a student, and then was told he was eligible for government assistance to pay for his tuition, but he had to wait for three weeks for the application to be processed.


Mignano grew irritated and felt like the delay was yet another setback and a disappointment, but he waited, and while he did so he watched episodes of a 1976 TV mini-series called "Helter Skelter", which just happened to be re-airing on TV.

The TV series may have played a small part in reminding him that his life was now intertwined with Merrick's and he then became obsessed with the idea that Merrick had actually placed a curse on him.


On January 26th, 1977, he went to the school and waited in ambush for Merrick to appear in the parking lot for a few hours and then pulled out a pistol and shot 50-year old Laurence Merrick in the back.

Mignano then fled the scene, and much like the opening scene of Richard Rush's 1980 action film The Stunt Man -- which, and get this, starred actor Steve Railsback, who had played Charles Manson in the "Helter Skelter" mini-series — he, by pure chance, happened upon a movie being shot mere blocks away,  on Willoughby Ave., and the killer blended in with the crew (just as Railsback's character did), pretending to be part of the film production team.


Merrick, meanwhile, staggered into his office at the studio, telling his student's "Some son of a bitch shot me and I don't even know why"! Some of the students thought they were witnessing an impromptu acting exercise, but quickly realized that their teacher was dying in front of them.

Merrick was rushed to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, but he was pronounced dead within an hour. Students at the Merrick Studio Academy of Dramatic Arts said that Mignano had been hanging around the building all morning, asking them questions about Merrick and his Manson documentary.


34 comments:

Mr. Humphrat said...

I didn't know that some of Manson was shot before the August 69 killings! Or even that they had contact. It's amusing to think of the girls coming on set begging for food. Thanks for the interesting post Matt

DebS said...

Merrick's true name was Zeev Lahav, he was born in Petah Tiqva Israel April 22 1926. He petitioned to become a naturalized US citizen May 17 1960 in Miami Florida. He was granted citizenship November 18 1960 in the Southern District of California court. Some records and his grave marker spell his first name Zev. He is buried at Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=9032&ref=acom

starviego said...

"...one of his(Merrick's) students, Sharon Tate..."

What is the source of this claim?

starviego said...

"...it was during the film's production that Merrick was invited to head over to Spahn Ranch, with a 16mm camera, in order to film the Manson family on their own turf.
Merrick also shot footage of them at Devil's Canyon, their Barker Ranch hideout in Death Valley..."

And this was BEFORE TLB? This raises a number of questions:

--What were the exact dates of this filming activity?

--Clearly, Merrick had some project in mind, as filming costs a lot of money. Or did someone else hire Merrick to do the filming?

--Why would Charlie have tolerated this intrusion? There must have been something in it for him.

--Why didn't Bugliosi, Sanders, or any of the Family ever mention the presence of this film crew?

grimtraveller said...

"...it was during the film's production that Merrick was invited to head over to Spahn Ranch, with a 16mm camera, in order to film the Manson family on their own turf

This is a bit confusing. From what both Robert and Merrick say in "Death to pigs" this isn't true. Robert says that Merrick didn't become involved in the Manson filming episode until July '70 {their agreement is dated 11/7/70} when he fronted the money and agreed to distribute it.

Merrick also shot footage of them at Devil's Canyon, their Barker Ranch hideout in Death Valley..."

Devil's Canyon is actually in the vicinity of Spahn Ranch. Brenda says it's where Charlie was during the entirety of the Cielo and Waverly murders as she was making him some leather trousers and she had to keep traipsing up there to get him to try them on.
Robert did some filming out at Barker but I don't recall Merrick mentioned as being out there. It's Robert that was filming the Family initially, according to his book.

starviego said...

And this was BEFORE TLB? This raises a number of questions:What were the exact dates of this filming activity?
Clearly, Merrick had some project in mind, as filming costs a lot of money


Merrick mentioned a visit to Spahn's to Brenda, Squeaky and Sandy. It's recorded in Robert's book "Death to pigs."
He says he came to Spahn on July 28th {an infamous date in the summer of murder} to talk to old George about filming the movie there and he saw various Family members around although he couldn't remember anyone specifically except possibly Gypsy. He was thinking of filming there but decided on Paramount Ranch as it was bigger. He says he filmed it from August 1st to the 9th and quipped that they would have been in it had he filmed it at Spahn. Although Sandy wouldn't have been in the scenes filmed towards the end !

Why would Charlie have tolerated this intrusion?

This is where it's a bit confusing. Charlie gave instructions to Gypsy to allow Robert to do some filming as it appears she was getting a little bossy. I remember when I read this, I laughed. It blew out of the waters any notion that Charlie was not the one that called the shots. He was in jail but his word was still law in '69/'70. He was still directing the traffic of those on the outside. That they became increasingly self directed {filming pun intended !} is neither here nor there as even if he wasn't suggesting some of the stuff they did, they were doing stuff they thought would please him. Anyway, the time Charlie gave the permission was not prior to the murders but while he was inside.
Most of the filming of "Black Angels" was done while Charlie was up in Big Sur during which time Bobby too made off and got arrested for murder. The time the production team finished and were leaving coincided with the breaking news of the Cielo murders.

DebS said...

Starviego, this Desert Sun newspaper article written right after Merrick was killed says that Sharon Tate was a student of his.

https://cdnc.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/cdnc?a=d&d=DS19770127.2.26

starviego said...


Grim and Deb, thanks for the info. If Merrick didn't get involved until after TLB, then it isn't that significant. Some more on Merrick here:

http://www.mansonblog.com/2016/06/laurence-merrick-and-crazy-person.html

---------------

A long time ago I came across a reference that one of the agencies investigating TLB was Israel's main intel agency, the Mossad, Has anybody ever heard of this? 'Cuz now I can't find that link.

grimtraveller said...

The movie incidentally, is more cheesy than pizza and garlic bread mozzarella.
But someone had to make it.

grimtraveller said...

Mr. Humphrat said...

I didn't know that some of Manson was shot before the August 69 killings! Or even that they had contact

I don't think there was any in the conventional sense. Robert tells a story in his book of having an encounter with Charlie at Spahn in the summer of 1968. He and some mates were out on a 100° hot day around the Simi Valley looking for filming locations when they decided to stop at Spahn because he remembered a coke machine in the saloon there. He says he was walking towards the saloon when Charlie {as yet he didn't know who he was} walked towards him and when he got to within 10 feet, he did an about face and went back to the car and told his mates to hightail it out of there which they did.
They never got the cokes.
Robert speculates that had he made contact with Charlie that day, he may have ended up filming the murders.

DebS said...

this Desert Sun newspaper article written right after Merrick was killed says that Sharon Tate was a student of his

William Zamora who, as a juror on the TLB trial wrote the book "Trial by your peers" was also one of Merrick's students. He says he paid $85 per month for a lesson a week over an 18 month period. He says Merrick rang him to ask him if he would be in a 'picture' that he was producing about the Manson Family called "The Manson Girls" and he spoke of how it would be simultaneously premiered in LA, New York & London. He went on to say that they would film him and just add it to the movie but because Merrick had once charged him $50 to critique a performance he had to give for an audition, he said he wanted $5000. The crew were all waiting for Zamora on the appointed day but when he said he'd do it for $5000 for 5 minutes he says Merrick hung up on him.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Grim said "he did an about face and went back to the car and told his mates to hightail it out of there which they did. " Was he spooked by Charlie?

On Zamora, did Merrick ask him to be in the movie while he was on the Jury??

starviego said...


Merrick was also partly responsible for Charlie flashing the LA Times with the headline "Manson Guilty Nixon Declares" about a month into the TLB trial, in an effort to create a mistrial. This makes Merrick much more than an observer. One would think that this would have had serious repercussions if Merrick's involvement had ever come out.

https://www.earcandymag.com/roberthendrickson-0612.htm
EC: ... Merrick also told you that it was he and Shinn who arranged access for Manson to grab the newspaper and show the jury the headline, "Manson Guilty Nixon Declares"? What could have been Merrick’s motive for this? Was he trying to “get in good” with Manson?
Robert: There are usually two reasons why anyone does something like that: (1) They want to get in on the act and (2) they hope to gain something for their own benefit. But here, Merrick was also being sucked into being, not just a filmmaker, but also a participant in a historical event. That, combined with Merrick understandably trying to protect his financial investment, by making sure Manson was convicted, and you have a very dangerous situation in the making.


grimtraveller said...


starviego said...

in an effort to create a mistrial...

Robert Hendrickson in an interview said...

with Merrick understandably trying to protect his financial investment, by making sure Manson was convicted...

An interesting conflation. Anyone have any ideas on how a mistrial {ie the granting of a new trial} would guarantee that Charlie would have been convicted ?
Equally, how Charlie being convicted would guarantee a bigger return for Merrick than if he had been acquitted in such a show trial then presented as a man wrongly accused by a biased LE system in an era when respect for and almost unquestioned allegiance to the law and authority was under genuine probing ?

Mr. Humphrat said...

Was he spooked by Charlie?

It's a truly bizarre episode. He doesn't say he was and he doesn't say that he wasn't and we're not really given indicators either way by his description. By the tail end of '69, he was secretly recording him in jail but that was a whole other ball game.

On Zamora, did Merrick ask him to be in the movie while he was on the Jury??

No, after. Zamora had done some TV interviews and was getting something of a roasting because of his revelations of love affairs and naughtiness among certain jurors and Merrick apparently thought he came over well on TV.
I'm not sure how much of a positive difference his appearance might've made to the documentary. I prefer the way he comes across in his book. Real life might be something of an anti climax !

David said...

Grim said:

"An interesting conflation. Anyone have any ideas on how a mistrial {ie the granting of a new trial} would guarantee that Charlie would have been convicted ?"

Since I first saw that I thought the statement made little sense. "It would not." is the answer. Maybe Mr. H was suggesting Merrick thought he had duped Manson into holding up the headline because Merrick thought Nixon's opinion would carry the day and didn't really want a mistrial.

In fact that whole trial incident helps to illustrate how incompetent everyone involved in the little scheme actually was. Ok, you get a mistrial.....and then you get tried again. Same case. Same DA. Same evidence. Maybe only Manson would get the mistrial- so ends the joint defense.

starviego said...

Grim said:
"Anyone have any ideas on how a mistrial {ie the granting of a new trial} would guarantee that Charlie would have been convicted?"

As David said, it would not have. A mistrial would have aided Charlie in that the prosecution may have offered a plea deal so they wouldn't have had to go through the whole mess again. But the stunt badly misfired. By 'inviting error,' Charlie doomed any hope of having his conviction overturned later.

Another question is why did Daye Shinn--Susan Atkin's lawyer--collude in this maneuver? He not only risked disbarment but even possible criminal charges. I can understand Charlie's motives, but not Merrick's or Shinn's. So I definitely think there is a lot more to this episode than we know.

Some more details here:
http://murdersofaugust69.freeforums.net/thread/1134/manson-guilty-nixon-declares

starviego said...

This guy says the film crew actually met the Family right before TLB:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0065474/reviews?ref_=tt_urv
Channon Scot during our "Sasqua" interview told me about "The Black Angels":
"'The Black Angels' was the 1st feature film, I, Big Jim Whitworth and others that were in "Sasqua" did in, I believe, 1969, if that's when they landed on the moon I got the year right. We shot that in 14 days at Paramount Ranch and all for a $1 a piece and never got to change our clothes. The director Lawrence Merrick wanted us to really feel like a biker. We stunk for all that time. That's when we met the Manson family and that's when one of our buddies took a 16mm cam and filmed them on the Spahn Ranch. Afterwards is when they committed all those crimes."

So did the crew go up to Spahns or did the Family go over to Agoura? How far apart were these two locations?

Also read all the hilarious reviews at the page noted above and here:

http://bleedingskull.com/black-angels-1970/

grimtraveller said...

starviego said...

This guy says the film crew actually met the Family right before TLB

Hmmm....
So...did Charlie let the Family be filmed on Spahn while he was paranoid about the Black Panthers coming to get him ? Did he allow them all to be filmed while Bobby roamed around after killing Gary Hinman ? Or was the filming done while Charlie was away for a few days or was it done while Bobby had skipped or was it the day Ella Jo left with Bill Vance ? What did that crew do with the film ? Come to think of it, why did they want to film them in the first place ? Was it OK with George Spahn ? Was Bobby there ? Charlie ? Were they filmed ? Did Bruce allow himself to be filmed ? What exactly did they film ? Has any Family member ever verified this story ?
Questions, questions {the kind that are easy to ask in retrospect}....

starviego said...


I think it was Hendrickson that did the initial filming BEFORE TLB and I think it was definitely a decision that Merrick made. But I have a hard time believing that a guy shooting on a shoestring budget would dispatch a cameraman, wasting precious film stock, on something not related to the project at hand.

ps
What happened to the film stock? Can anybody confirm some of it was used in the "Manson" documentary?

prefeteria said...

As per The Legend of Charles Manson, Robert H's involvement coincided around the time of the Zero incident at Mark Ross' house. So after TLB but Manson himself was mostly if not almost entirely away from Spahn Ranch at that point, correct?

starviego said...

According to Sanders, the Family had mostly moved away from Spahn to their place at Barker Ranch by the first week of Sept. 1969.

HellzBellz said...

Talking about the Manson movie from Robert H. I ask myself for a long time who the guy ON the HorseBack is while they are all in a Circle, Hand in Hand,Shoulder to Shoulder, Shanting words/sounds.... There is 1 figure ON HorseBack constantly rubbing his Beard... Somebody Knows ??

orwhut said...

HellzBelz
You're asking about the guy wearing a blue shirt, aren't you? I get so confused trying to figure out who everyone is "MANSON" that I often wish Robert had written everyone's name on every frame of film. I don't guess he figured anyone would ever study the film as much as we have though and I can't identify the horseback rider either.

grimtraveller said...

starviego said...


I think it was Hendrickson that did the initial filming BEFORE TLB

Ah, no.

prefeteria said...

Robert H's involvement coincided around the time of the Zero incident at Mark Ross' house. So after TLB...correct?

Ah, yeah.

but Manson himself was mostly if not almost entirely away from Spahn Ranch at that point

Entirely. Dates are wonderful gauges of time if they're correct and used correctly. For example, all the conspiracy theories about Tex and Dean Moorehouse living at Cielo Drive {are you listening Mr Shreck ?} don't even get off the ground if one takes into account CieloDrive.com pointing out that Moorehouse was in jail from the day after Terry Melcher moved out of the address. The notions of Tex and Bruce pulling off a drug robbery of Joel Rostau become sheer bunkum when one is aware Bruce wasn't even in the country at the time.
So any filming done of the Family by our Robert couldn't have been pre~TLB and wouldn't have involved Charlie at Spahn as he was out of the picture from Oct 12th and besides, Robert explains how he got to film the Family and how it turned into a documentary. Sometimes, chronologies are watertight.

starviego said...


What happened to the film stock? Can anybody confirm some of it was used in the "Manson" documentary?

Unless Robert was lying about how he got involved, no such confirmation can exist. Notably, Merrick, when talking with Squeaky, Sandy and Brenda, never said "I filmed you guys." He only remembered that he saw what he assumed to be Family members when he was checking out Spahn as a possible filming location the day after Gary Hinman was killed. He couldn't even recall anyone specifically.

starviego said...


"grimtraveller said...
starviego said... I think it was Hendrickson that did the initial filming BEFORE TLB

Ah, no."

So who was the one filming the Family before TLB, as quoted by 'Channon Scot' in the post above?

"That's when we met the Manson family and that's when one of our buddies took a 16mm cam and filmed them on the Spahn Ranch. Afterwards is when they committed all those crimes." "

Matt said...

Anyone seen Ziggy?


starviego said...

starviego said...
So did the crew go up to Spahns or did the Family go over to Agoura? How far apart were these two locations?

Spahn Ranch to Paramount Ranch is about 14 miles each way on the freeway. so it's not likely this meeting of the film crew and the Family just kind of spontaneously occurred because they were near to each other.

So we still have no answer as to WHY Merrick thought the Family worthy of being filmed BEFORE TLB.

DebS said...

From an Ear Candy magazine interview with Robert-

EC: Other than the summer of '68 coke machine incident at Spahn, did you meet Charlie any other times before his incarceration for the murders?

Robert: Not that I know of.

The interview is here-

https://www.earcandymag.com/roberthendrickson-0612.htm

starviego said...

"...did you meet Charlie any other times before his incarceration for the murders?
Robert: Not that I know of."

But that doesn't preclude a pre-TLB visit to the ranch when Charlie wasn't around. For example if he was up at Esalen or down in San Diego with Stephanie Schram at the time.

--------------

Too bad we lost Hendrickson. He may have been able to clear this up. Not that we would have ever gotten a straight answer, but still....

David said...

Matt,

I was thinking about Ziggy's absence myself.

More then one person wanted to film The Family. Jakobson's plan for Melcher was to do a documentary as a way to then bring out Manson's music.

grimtraveller said...

starviego said...

But that doesn't preclude a pre-TLB visit to the ranch when Charlie wasn't around

It kind of does. Circumstantial evidence can be way off beam or point with deadly accuracy. Robert told a story. Part of the story was how he as a film maker got involved with the Family. Another part of that story was running into Charlie a year before TLB. He never spoke of filming them then and part of his story was how he did get round to filming them when he did. If he'd filmed them prior to TLB it would have been part of his narrative. Because he would have had to have said why he was filming them. That guy Channon Scott leaves much to be desired in his tale, particularly leaving out why they filmed the Family. And them allowing themselves to be filmed, especially at that period of "post ~ Poppa" paranoia.

Hendrickson.....He may have been able to clear this up

He already did. Without any prompting either. And in the clearest way possible.

grimtraveller said...

David said...

More than one person wanted to film The Family

This is true. But there was a stated purpose in Jakobson and Melcher's aims.
There have long been rumours and tales of film involving the Family, some in nefarious activity, some in porn film or filmed orgies. Like Diana Ross many moons ago, I'm still waiting.....for just one of these too surface. I tend to think if there was any film of them in the way they are whispered about, they'd be dynamite. I lend little credence to people like Scott that claim they filmed them with no concrete evidence to hand ~ but contradictory stories like that of Merrick's to balance.

David said...

Huh?

HellzBellz said...

@ Orwhut, Yeah I do mean the Guy in the Blue Shirt , The only one on HorseBack while the rest of them are all dancing/shanting in a Circle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMo5jEnL5Ng&t=453s
At the 34:01 point He is seen, and then further up at 34:47 the ,GroupThing starts

grimtraveller said...

David said...

Huh?

Huh !

David said...

Or white, HellzBellz: Maybe Mark Ross???