Friday, April 8, 2022

Leslie, My Name is Evil

When I began the project of adding Manson films to our blog library, I didn't think I'd like many of them. Atrocious acting and Bugliosiite retellings were my presuppositions.

Bigger picture, try as I might, I've never figured out how to write reviews. My hero, Roger Ebert, kicks my ass from the grave every time I attempt to type something half as good as he published several times a week for decades. The man was a bona fide genius and a deserving Pulitzer Prize winner. 

But time passes and Ebert types no more. Your consolation prize is my hot takes on a movie I should've watched a decade ago. Late date notwithstanding, I will not be restrained today. 

Canadian filmmaker Reg Harkema blew my doors off with this one. His film is a visual experience that chronicles the times through the eyes of middle class suburban kids growing up in 1960's America. The soundtrack is offbeat and the editing is tight. What's up with film editors and the Manson thing anyway? Don't answer. I'm grateful. 

You can watch Harkema's film free of charge (with two commercials) on IMBd TV. Please tell me what you think afterward. Thanks to Jay for suggesting this film for discussion. 

That's prostrate Sadie handing Leslie over to Charlie Jesus in case this is your first day in Manson. Mendocino was also mentioned. It's cool when a writer claims their spot at this gruesome table. Show us what you know.  

A quick pitch...

Let's address the 500 lb. elephant in the room. We all know it's time for a Hawthorne movie or cable series. A solid handful of people reading this post possess the abilities to make it happen. Double digits talent doesn't sound far-fetched. I am filled to the rim with ideas. Maybe we could talk on the phone. 

Max Frost must be given a role. Non negotiable. 

Picture the slow motion shootout. Brass and smoke hang in the air. Cool music with lyrics in not English language blasts and then abruptly cut off as Gypsy falls into a handsome young policeman's arms, whispers, "I'm sorry," and passes out from her fifteen gunshot wounds. Cut to Larry Bailey screaming and squeezing his shattered kneecap between two bloody hands. 

I don't know the actors and actresses anymore so you should pick who you like, but I'm your huckleberry if you need a socially anxious and talkative oddball to lurk in the background and agree with everything you say. From home of course. 

I might get sick if I leave my room. 

Let's get back to Reg Harkema while you chew on the idea. Leslie, My Name is Evil is also titled Manson, My Name is Evil. I'm not sure if the title was changed because of some crossing the border from Canada thing or what but the second title killed the first title's irony. Charlie acts more cartoon crazy than Evil with a big E, and Leslie is portrayed as a victim who mutilated Rosemary. 

Small potatoes. 

Like me, you probably see a Manson movie poster and say something like, "I'm going to be completely disappointed if I don't see any bloody sex ritual boobs." Rest assured, friends. Gory bosoms are included. This time in a dream sequence.

Love of brother. Vietnam. Nixon. The abortion. Harkema points out (something we talk about a lot here) that the Manson murders did not happen in a vacuum. 

A bit of license is taken. Rosemary is wrapped in the Cielo flag. 

The acting works in this film. Gregory Smith is Perry, a young juror who becomes infatuated with Leslie during the People vs Manson et al trial. Perry has a dirty dream about Leslie while sequestered in a hotel room. Kristen Hager plays Leslie. 

Charlie shows up in the dirty dream but Perry avoids Little Paul duties. Manson gives Perry the greenlight, albeit shirtless, and exits the scene. 

Ryan Robbins is Charlie. Robbins looks more like the Scots-Irish and English migratory blob that spawned Charlie than several of the actors who have played Manson over the years. I speak for all genealogy nerds when I say I appreciated Robbins' casting. He's also a more believable Charlie fwiw. 

Anjelica Scannura plays possibly the best Sadie I've seen on this journey. Same for Tiio Horn as Katie. Their scenes jump off the screen. 

Horn as Katie says she's from a Los Angeles suburb. Later, she pronounces "again" like a Canadian. I immediately wanted a pea meal bacon sandwich from Paddington's. I miss you, Toronto. 

I don't know how I'd classify this film. Dark camp comedy? I recommend it regardless. Bugs is great. Fitzgerald is hilarious. Perry's girlfriend and father possibly steal the show. 

I liked Leslie, My Name is Evil so much I ordered a copy from Amazon. This one might not be for the cadre dedicated to solving the cases in their own special ways and need everything historically accurate, but the film is a solid watch for everyone familiar with the tropes, facts, and myths surrounding the Manson milieu. 

The portrait of Nixon behind Judge Older's chair is massive. I laughed when Older asks Perry from beneath the watchful eyes of the man responsible for the headline if seeing the newspaper will prejudice his opinion of Charlie. Make sure you watch hang on through the credits to hear Nixon's speech to the youth of America. 

Overall, I got the feeling Reg Harkema looked at the U.S. during those times and used his film to asked a sobering question across time. How did we expect Manson not to happen? 

Bonus materials:

A review I like where the reviewer says all the things I want to say but lack the skills. 


We'll return to our regular scheduled programming Monday. I hope your weekend is swell. 


Jay said...

Dark, camp comedy is a great description. It’s worth looking at movies sometimes as just movies- they can still use the tropes and themes and be entertaining without being historically accurate. I was a history major, and for a while, it ruined war movies for me. Had to separate the two to start enjoying historically based films.
Anjelica Scannura captures all the craziness of Sadie better than any of the others that have played her. I thought she stole the scenes she was in. Most of the other Sadies have gone for just vacant, zombie killer.
I think a lot of the Manson related films try too hard and spend too much time on trying to get the ‘best Manson.’ I think they need to spend more time and effort putting the girls front and center.
The Last of the Manson Girls is another low budget film that looks at the hardcore believers that were left after the trials. Very low budget, but I found it entertaining. It alludes to some of the conspiracies out there.
Thanks for the mention.

shoegazer said...

WRT the actual Atkins, as can be gleaned from testimony and subsequent interviews (I'll exclude books for now), she seems to be the most like Manson in that she was likely amoral and deeply opportunistic. She had needs that Manson either did not have, or that he had transmogrified into personal drives, so that he was the only one who had the power to meet his own needs.

In this regard, he was a self-contained, self-actualizing entity.

Atkins lacked this, I think. She needed external validation and Manson saw this and played it for all it was worth. Manson was far beyond any need for external validation, and I suspect that Beausoleil was much like Manson in this regard, but much lazier and less driven.

Peter said...

When do the boobs come on. I don't have all day to watch this whole thing.

G. Greene-Whyte said...

LOL Peter! The dream sequence IIRC.

G. Greene-Whyte said...

Nicely written, Jay. I think I'd be better in your comments section. Anytime you want to turn the tables just let me know.

G. Greene-Whyte said...

Shoe, Sadie's crassness allows me to other her in my brain. I know it affects my ability to be dispassionate toward her even if I feel empathy for her early life experiences. Social class is such a huge part of how we view their lives and beliefs. She's closer to Charlie than the rest of them.

Fayez Abedaziz said...

Susan, my name is American

What's your name, watcha doin'
What do you like
What do you like a girl to do to you
Yeah Sadie, you really are hip and cool

There were people and things in California in July and August of '69
Oh, how clean the beaches were and no matter what, the sun seemed to shine like gold
and the days went by and soon so many of us just seemed to lose time
ah, but we were living in colors and music and we saw our friends going to colleges
and others to grubby old houses with worn out carpets and some, my dear friends, somehow lost a piece of their minds
and soon, had no idea what the word meant when you said, "hey Jon, what now, have any PLANS?'
I never knew one person that drifted, was stoned and never heard from again that was a bad person
Calling America, what happened
Since you asked,
My Name is America yes
Killing people in other nations?
That's my middle name got a problem with that
Oh, ah no, the boxes of $100 dollar bills will do me fine
thanks, made walking and dining in Malibu so much fun
but you know,
Fayez, My Name Is Palestinian
and Uncle Sam, you really did a trip on my mind, again and again
from sitting, drinking and dining with singers and millionaires atop the Vegas Strip
to sitting on the floor with hip types in some cheap old houses and sharing big old pots of spaghetti and some strobe freakin' lights and posters with peace and flowers and what's the deal with the ones of the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead
playing, more like screwing with my head and the tokers around me all needed some things about, ah, let me see oh, what about next year, week or even tomorrow
did Susan and Leslie know about lasting pain or sorrow
where were you in '69
Sharon is the name of a flower in the Holy Land
it always grows
Sharon Tate is in Heaven with her little boy there the sun always shines
loving smiles

Here, in this post, Green, I'll say that:
you are quite able to write reviews, as well, with humor and creativity,
as the very fine one you referred us to in that site, JWR.
That was really a good one. I didn't see the name of the writer, there, though.
Also, the movie has Leslie as a Prom Queen. She was a Prom Princess. She said so in a couple of interviews. I'll say it again, she is a fine person and should have been freed 20 years ago, or more. Just as Susan should have after maybe 15 or 20 years time served

Then, here we are in the year of our Lord, 2022
What do you think is really true
What was it all about
say, ah well, we're together with these hills and
you can sniff and smile at the maryjane wafting round and round in the soft breeze
There, at the Santa Susan Hills, the days slowed and slowed and Leslie and Susan weren't there no more look around and see, but the funny thing is, when I looked it was all shiny, with vibrant green trees and God and nature's living things
where the dears walked and sang with their cute bare feet
what do I really mean I actually don't know
aren't you gonna ask, though, how could they treat Susan and Leslie with maybe sorts of revenge that was not served to so many that the weirdos of the California government let free
OH, if I may, that picture of the girl on the post, Green, really does look like sweet Susan Atkins. I gotta see the movie, though, to see more.
So far, I thought that beautiful eyes Nancy Wolfe in Helter Skelter looked the most like Susan Sadie and Nancy really is a very good actress
talk to you later if not sooner

G. Greene-Whyte said...

Thanks, Fayez. Happy weekend, dude.

Dan S said...

Mr Atkins himself was at my last gig in Pacifica 2 weeks ago. "James Whitehouse?" I said.
"In the flesh," he responded. I shook his hand. My mind raced. He's a friend of the band so i didn't want to pester him and i never asked anything. I gotta get my elevator interview ready for next time; find a way to break the ice , probably in October or November. Anybody got any respectful questions they'd like asked?

G. Greene-Whyte said...

Start with all things Nellie, please.

grimtraveller said...

Dan S said:

I shook his hand. My mind raced. He's a friend of the band so i didn't want to pester him and i never asked anything. I gotta get my elevator interview ready for next time; find a way to break the ice

It's a hard one, isn't it ?
I did deliveries in London's West End for 20 years and I was always seeing famous people. 95% of the time I had nothing to say, because they were just famous or in the public eye and they weren't involved in anything of specific interest to me. In much the same way, none of them would have stopped me and said "what's it like driving a Ford Transit ? Would you prefer a Mercedes Sprinter ?" Unless I was genuinely curious about something, I never talked to them. Once, I saw the MP Gerald Kaufman on Soho Square and I asked him if he really did describe the Labour Party's 1983 election manifesto as "the longest suicide note in history" ? He laughed and said to me that in all the decades he'd been an MP, regardless of all the good and valuable things he'd done, it was that one comment that he was remembered for.
Another time, when Wembley stadium was being rebuilt, I used to deliver to the parent organization, Wembley National Stadium. So, I'm in the lift one day and I notice Geoff Hurst. In England, he has been a national treasure since 1966 and in the history of this planet, he is still the only person to score a hat-trick {ie, 3 goals} in a world cup final. His second goal has been the topic of controversy & furious debates since it happened. The ball had whacked off the crossbar and bounced on the line. The ref gave a goal. To this day, Germans refuse to accept it was a goal as the whole of the ball must cross the whole of the line. It's amazing how even now, it is inconclusive, when you see the action. Anyway, I asked Hurst if I could ask him a question and he said yeah. So I asked him if he honestly thought it was a goal. He said "I'd like to think so," which I thought was remarkably honest. Personally, I've never thought it was.
Point is, when I saw both men, it was easy to ask a question because there were questions that had been forever lurking in my mind. It wasn't a case of "there's a celeb ~ I've got to say something to them." If Vince Bugliosi had been in London on holiday and I'd seen him on the street or on a bus, I would have had loads of questions to ask him, but only because I like his book, its contents and the questions it raises on many sides of the subject.
But if I saw James Whitehouse, oh, I'd have questions to ask, alright. The first one I'd ask is "Did Susan really say all that stuff in 'The Myth Of HS' or did that come from you, because it doesn't sound like someone that was actually there and is full of demonstrably wrong info."
I often find the easiest way to break the ice is just to say, "excuse me, can I ask you a question ?" The worst thing they can say is "no" or "fuck off !" And to me, that's like being told "the toilet doesn't flush." It's not going to mean I have to wet or poop myself.🥶

grimtraveller said...

he first one I'd ask is "Did Susan really say all that stuff in 'The Myth Of HS' or did that come from you, because it doesn't sound like someone that was actually there and is full of demonstrably wrong info."

Of course, he might not take too kindly to being asked that one !! 😆

Dan S said...

Amazingly i haven't read it nor the child of Satan.
That'd be wise to read Myth and get some brain ticklers

G. Greene-Whyte said...

Ask about Donald Lee Laisure, please.

Unknown said...

I would ask him why would he marry someone in prison who will never be paroled? Did he ever think she would be paroled? Did he want babies with her? Did he marry her for monetary reasons? Did he know her before 1969? Has he ever met any of her biological relatives and if so, what do they think of her? Did they have or want a relationship with her after 1969?

grimtraveller said...

Unknown said...

Has he ever met any of her biological relatives and if so, what do they think of her? Did they have or want a relationship with her after 1969?

Her younger brother {I think his name is Steve} and his family did. Her niece wrote a very moving letter on Susan's behalf for one of her parole hearings.

shoegazer said...

Does anyone know if Manson had read, or was in any way influenced, by Aleister Crowley, the British occultist, in whose book, The Book of the Law:

"It stated that a supreme moral law was to be introduced in this Aeon, 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,' and that people should learn to live in tune with their Will. "

This really sounds like something he could get behind wholeheartedly, doesn't it?

Jay said...

That would be great

Jay said...

Love seeing your stuff Fayez- always an interesting read.

beauders said...

Ask Whitehouse ab0ut his first prison romance with Veronica Compton. Look her up she's a lot more interesting than Whitehouse and Atkins combined.

G. Greene-Whyte said...

Hi, beauders.

Jay, which film should I watch next?

Jay said...

was just watching Charlie Says on my lunch break.
Have some interesting thoughts on that one.
Last of the Manson Girls is good. Different, but good. Brenda/Nancy, Sandy, and Squeaky are front and center.
Manson and Tex make small appearances in the Netflix show Mindhunter. There aren’t too many fictional appearances of Tex where he isn’t limited to his ‘I’m the devil…’ line.

G. Greene-Whyte said...

I actually have a partially finished LotMG's in the queue here. Liked that one a lot. Maybe Charlie Says first tho.

Fayez Abedaziz said...

Green, thanks for the greeting and Jay,
I appreciate what you said, thanks

Dan S said...

That girl got around! I wonder if her erstwhile paramour dave clark was really a murderer? Carol bundy was the source of all the evidence against him and she was a very strange bird

Loegria15 said...

Noob here, gonna watch and TRY to remember to give you my thoughts on this.

I’m not a Mansonhead, like some (and those who are are fine by me), but I am fascinated. My first exposure was when I was a kid at the time the book “Helter Skelter” was first published, and a girl across the street, her parents had it, I think from “Book of the Month”. Of course, I just looked at the pictures of blanked-out bodies printed in B&W…but I wondered just how bad it had been that they had to blank out the bodies?

Loegria15 said...

Oh, it's also free on Tubi.

G. Greene-Whyte said...

Hi, Loegria. Welcome to the madness.

Loegria15 said...

Thanks, Mr. G-W! I've been lurking around, staying up late and reading posts here on & off since the pandemic started. I just recently began to comment and am now following the blog. I'm very appreciative of all the work that's gone and continues to go into it. You folks are dedicated!

And I'm in Michigan, the only thing I can say about OH is that it's flat until one hits Cincinnati. Oh yeah - OH got Toledo, and MI got da UP, lol.

G. Greene-Whyte said...

LOL! Apologies to people from Toledo for laughing. I ate the best Mediterranean food in my life in T Town.

Loegria15 said...

I've always wanted to stop at Tony Packo's! And to make a pilgrimage to Erma Bombeck's birthplace in Dayton, OH.

I'm in Warren, about 2 miles north of my hometown of Detroit.

shoegazer said...

but I wondered just how bad it had been that they had to blank out the bodies?

Folks here can supply links to many of the photos. I will if no one else does.

Try These are representative. There are also autopsy photos, but they are sad to me--dehumanizing.

I mean, it's bad, but to start with many of the people killed were--face it--good looking, and mostly they retain that in death.

There's a lot of blood, for sure.

The Wonderland killings were a slaughterhouse, by comparison.

shoegazer said...

Welcome, Loegria!

At its best, this site is attempting to create a deep history of an event in popular culture from >50 years ago.

Loegria15 said...

Thanks, Mr. S.!


I think that Mr. Robbins looks a LOT like Viggo Mortensen, and Mr. Smith brings to mind Tobey Maguire, especially when he looks confused (that wide-eyed Peter-Parker look, don'tchaknow?). The actor playing Tex sure looked like him, same for the lady who plays Sadie. And though Katie & Lulu don't actually have close resemblances with their real counterparts, their body language and attitude seem to make up for it.

I found it to be funny, gory, sobering, and quite watchable. The decor makes me pine for the past. The part where Perry & Dorothy are making out in front of the swimming girl is hilarious. Overall, it's got really good production values. I don't know so much as it's satirical, though, or ironic in spots.

All in all, I liked it.

OH, also, I have seen the non-blanked out photos from both Tate & LaBianca, and from Wonderland, too. But at nine years was totally beyond my realm of experience.

Loegria15 said...

And Ryan Robbins also played Leslie's father...