"Some people ask why people would go into a dark room to be scared. I say they are already scared, and they need to have that fear manipulated and massaged. I think of horror movies as the disturbed dreams of a society"
- Wes Craven
Deb, who always is one step ahead, had done a post on this film back when they were casting for this project. It has come to my attention that the project has been completed and shown across the pond, as well as made the festival circuit rounds ( where it won awards at over half a dozen including; Snowdance, Canada International Film Festival, North Hollywood Film Fest, Twin City Film Festival, The California Film Awards, International Euro Film Festival) . With Deb's Blessing, I can now report that Gravitas Ventures will be releasing "House of Manson" in the US onto digital platforms and physical media on August 5, 2016. What that means exactly- I am still not sure lol. But, I am working on it....
Directed by Brandon Slagle, the Film:
" Follows the life of Charles Manson from childhood to his arrest at Barker Ranch following his involvement in the deaths at the Tate and Labainca residences ( among others) during the summer of 1969 which ultimately led to his trial and sentencing. "
Actually, the movie starts with the raid at barker and then backtracks from the start. Early word is that the cast does a pretty good job . Here is a quick look at a few of the players:
Ryan Kiser stars as Charles Manson ( He played Charlie previously in a 2009 Short I never saw called "Lie")
Devanny Pinn is Susan Atkins
Sorry... lol anyway, here are a couple more of Devanny:
Reid Warner is Tex Watson:
Trish Cook will play Kathleen Maddox:
Suzi Lorraine Is Sharon Tate:
The cast also includes a host of other names you probably wont know such as Serena Lorien, Erin Marie Hogan, Britt Griffith, Chriss Anglin, Julie Rose, and Maxine Wasa. This film was originally released in the UK under the shortened title "Manson". Below is a video URL for the full trailer for your viewing pleasure.
As far as early reviews- a few are in. Now, these aren't exactly Rolling Stone level publications lol But, this is what I could find. There were several themes among the reviews. The look of the cast and the job done by the actors playing Charlie and Susan were mentioned repeatedly. Here are some excerpts...
Dread Central: "Informative, Shocking, Violent, saddening, -Slagle should be applauded for taking on a subject that has been beaten to death and giving it a totally new perspective from the audiences point of view."
Shock till you Drop: "It would be easy to think a film about Charles Manson and his followers would be the perfect opportunity to cannonball into the deep end of the exploitation swimming pool. Yet Branden Slagles', as of yet unreleased in the US, House of Manson chooses to heat up the sauna instead. This isn't a party. Its a slow burn."
"Ryan Kiser delivers a powerful performance as Manson. He manages to carry the larger than life persona of Manson with ease. He never lets it become the cartoon it could easily be. This isn't the insane, wacky, creepy Charlie we have seen behind bars and in interviews for decades. The Manson Kiser brings to the screen is less creepy and more controlled than many portraits that have come before.
Starburst: " Won't offer and new insights or conclusions, but it does produce a different slant on a character whose infamy shows no sign of abating. Slagle's film is of interest though. Built on excellent performances and subtle, almost documentary like direction that draws the viewer in."
Flix Chatter- (3.5/5 stars) "Kiser approached the character (Manson) in a very serious tone and does a fantastic job of conveying the crazy, yet brilliant way Charles Manson was able to draw followers into his cult. Devanny Pinn co-stars as one of Manson's co-followers Susan Atkins and gives a chilling performance as her screen presence is freaky. Pinn truly becomes Atkins onscreen, as the facial reactions make you think this woman is completely off her rocker. An overall amazing performance by Pinn."
Horror Movies CA ( 5/5 stars): " Kiser just may be the best portrayal of Charles Manson I have ever seen, as I said its a scary thought, but that just goes to show Kiser's acting ability in bringing this devious character to life, and it appears everyone has his chemistry about them as they all deliver. But of all the family members Devanny Pinn delivers this wickedly sadistic portrayal of Susan Atkins. Everything from her smile to her laugh, she brings a whole eeriness to the proceedings as none of her heinous actions seems to have any moral implications to her and Devanny just delivers.
"Its paced well, it captures the essence of the time periods. The violence is horrifically convincing., and the characters just shine through. If you want to see a film about Charles Manson without glorifying his actions, House of Manson is a film you need and I urge you to keep your eyes peeled for this one. Its brooding, dark, and absolutely fascinating."
CineKatz: "The attention to detail is outstanding and aside from moments that have too much shaky camera work and sound designs of a modern horror film, this one stays true to the look you would see in a movie made in the late 60's or 70's. I don't know what type of film stock was used, but kudos to their cinematographer for getting that aspect correctly. Not only was Slagle good at getting the look of the film down, the casting was dead on too. ( no pun intended)"
"Ryan Kiser is amazing as Charles Manson. He plays him as a real person and not some crazy guy spouting wild shit. Seeing him portrayed this way makes him a bit more scary as you can see just how charming and manipulative he was. Devanny Pinn has some pretty chilling moments that make her seem more lost from reality than to the leader himself."
Children of Samhain: "The film is told from the perspective of a fly on the wall, and therefor is neither a direct condemnation nor glorification of the man who orchestrated the murder of no less than seven people including a pregnant Sharon Tate. Instead the movie allows the viewer to be seduced by his charms, before being thrown head first into the sheer brutality of his madness."
" If there was ever an award given for casting in Indie films, it would have to go to Alexis Lacono, because not only is every single actor in this film immensely talented, but seemingly everyone is a dead ringer for their real life counterpart. Its truly remarkable. The members of the Manson Family are absolutely amazing".
Here is a bit of what IMDb says:
"Kisers performance has gained accolades for his fresh take on the character, portraying him not as the ranting caricature often seen in low budget film adaptations of the story, but as a flawed, human individual who also happens to be responsible for some of the most heinous acts in US history. Also garnering accolades is Devanny Pinn's ( The Black Dahlia Haunting) chilling portrayal of Susan Atkins who has since died in prison of a brain tumor."
Like I said, not exactly cutting edge sources, but you get the general idea of what people are saying so far. The word of mouth is pretty good. I will have my fingers crossed. I always do. I have seen some really good stuff on this subject ( Robert Hendrickson Manson Documentaries, Manson Family Vacation, Marcy Mary May Marlene) and I have seen some Garbage (Leslie- My Name is Evil, Helter Skelter, any/all TV movies and Documentaries not made by Robert Hendrickson) Based on what I have read and the trailer I have watched- House of Manson shows some promise as far as something new and interesting to watch on the subject.
Its amazing how much new stuff still comes out about the subject. New Books, TV specials, Movies, and even websites lol still pop up consistently after all of these years. Of all the crimes which happened in my adult lifetime- nothing has captured the imagination like this case did for so many with the possible exception of OJ. When I was a kid growing up in NJ a bunch of kids in Long Island New York went in to woods on acid and angel dust and had a satanic ritual and murdered some poor kid. It was savage beating and murder. It involved drugs, hippies and music. It was the biggest news in the world to our area... for about three weeks.
Why is it that Manson and OJ stay with us when others crimes have come and gone which were more vicious and involved more deaths? Scarier people, who have done worse things, and we seem to have chosen these two as the ones to hold on to over the years. I have some ideas as to why:
Location, Location, Location: Hollywood, Brentwood. An area of wealth and fame that most people are naturally curious about. When the darkness creeps into the brightest of spots we have in our society that makes it extra spooky.
Victims: Beautiful people. In particular Sharon/Nicole- Beautiful Blonde women getting killed in their own homes, in exclusive neighborhoods, and in savage fashion. Like a car wreck- its hard to turn away.
Villains: Charlie/OJ. Out sized personalities. Two guys who you couldn't keep your eyes off. OJ for his fame and familiarity, and Charlie for his Charisma and Unpredictability.
St. Circumstances of Crimes: Both were so surreal. OJ and the Bronco chase. The Family with the blood writing on the walls- in both cases- the vicious nature of the stabbings. The absolute savage gore at the scenes. Watching the entire cases play out so publicly from the finding of the bodies up through the verdict at the trials. Water cooler chat for weeks and months on end.
Trial: Two of the most fascinating, and lengthy, trials we had ever seen. in both trials, the cast of characters and lawyers involved only added fuel to the fire. Imagine Charlie with the Dream Team? if the details of the cases themselves weren't interesting enough on their own- both trials lasted months and each day gave fresh new stories and people to be dissected and broken down. From Caito and Faye Resnick and the private sex/drug lives of OJ's group of jet-setting friends, to Brooks Posten testifying he thought Charlie was Christ, and the girls on the corner wearing X's and shaving there heads- you were mesmerized in both cases by the peripheral people in the case and their stories. Attorneys like Schrek and Cochran to Kanarek and Bugliosi. Huge egos and personalities at every turn.
At the end of the day, I don't know really what makes these two cases different. Above is just a few ideas as to why this case seems to stick with us so passionately. what I do know is that the interest doesn't appear to be going anywhere. As long as they keep making new movies, books, TV specials- I will keep checking them out. As always, I will hope for the best. I am not sure what I am really looking for anymore anyway from films like this. Something interesting I guess will suffice. I am not expecting to learn, nor do I expect any of these shows/movies to give me answers to the real questions I have about TLB...
I am waiting for Robert Hendrickson's next project to do that ;)
Well, that is about it until I watch the Movie myself. Then I can tell you more. In the meantime, let me leave you with what most of you really want. Another bikini pic of Devanny Pinn...
- Your Favorite Saint
UPDATE: I was able to watch the first 30 minutes, or so, online before the virus warnings started lol. I hope it didn't cost me a laptop, but I guess we will see. I made it to the point where Charlie seems to be about to find out that he was NOT going to be a music star. It is pretty easy to tell that this is where things were about to change. Up till the point I saw there was very little talk about violence and just a few mentions of "The Armageddon. They were laying some of the groundwork slowly for the ideas of where Race War might come from, but nothing specific yet. Despite what I read in the reviews, the Susan character hadn't really had much of an impact as of yet. The LULU character was way over acting. That was the first character where I felt it was being way overplayed. The Tex character was ok so far, and there was a decent scene where Charlie has the "Will you Die For Me" conversation with Tex. Those kids of scenes were the first where Charlie starts to show any real sings of menace. The Charlie Character is, so far, just what they said in the reviews-. understated and mellow. A very likeable guy in most regards up to this point. There is a scene between him and his mother when she tells him that Rosalie is gone where you almost feel sorry for him. Kiser has done alright so far. There is another scene where they play the Manson song "Sick City" and it is actually Kiser signing. This was, to me, was the most impressive thing I saw or listened to so far. I think most will agree that he nails Charlies voice if nothing else. Spahn Ranch scenes are realistic and good. The Story is not accurate and they get several of the facts wrong. The filming is decent, but you can tell its an indie budget. Also they play some modern music in the background of a couple of scenes, which I didn't like. You can tell for certain that they are going to use the Music Business as, at least, the reason things started to get dark, but they sort of hinted that H/S was going to become a factor as well, although through the first half hour there was no real mention of it.The beginning is pretty much Charlies trip from poor runaway to becoming immersed in a lifestyle of peace and love. They do show one interesting scene from Charlie's youth where a decent relative gives him some advice that he seems to repeat throughout his life. So far, on balance, it is a semi- entertaining version of the events leading up the time just prior to the violence starting with decent performances. It is not totally satisfying though as the facts are off, and there is not much new so far. It wasn't too badly acted, or overacted ( Except LULU Character)- but that would probably be coming next as things start to get more serious around them. I can tell you two things for sure. It was interesting enough to warrant me watching the rest, but I don't think this is movie that is going to be very popular in the TLB community. Not accurate enough, and a little too cheesy. on a scale of 1 to 10 Coors-lights I give the first portion 3 1/2 beers so far. Now, with all the serious business coming up- I expect that this can go either way. I can still see this becoming really silly and cheesy, or if Susan's character starts to exert itself like I read- and Charlie and Tex characters are as good when it gets tense as they were at playing it cool- it could work its way up to a 6-pack maybe. I cant see this being a very good or great movie though. However, I still have more than half way to go so,
We will see.....