Thursday, June 29, 2023


After waiting for decades (he says 20 years okay sure) and harassing and stalking old people, Tom O'Neill's book Chaos came out. And it was just a turbo charged version of Maury Terry's ludicrous book ULTIMATE EVIL. The Col reviewed it and mocked it and, aside from some Q anon people on Instagram think he book went almost no where;Vera Dreiser masturbated with it (Tom himself!) and then nada. Since the book was a nothing burger, no one has done serious research to take his shit down. The UnderGround Bunker, a great site fighting against vile Scientology, used first hand research and more to take this shitty book to task. This is a long work. It destroys a HUGE portion of Tom's fictional book. Take the time to read and digest it all ------------------------------ 

  Jon Atack takes issue with new theory about Charles Manson that ignores Scientology Tony Ortega Undergrund Bunker Charles Manson and his ‘Family’ will always stir up fascination, because of the horrifying brutality of the slayings in Los Angeles in 1969, and the mythology that has been so dexterously spun around them. Manson was the pied piper who brainwashed runaway girls in his orgiastic, drug-crazed sex cult and then loosed them on a rampage of murder in the attempt to begin a race war in the US. A war named for The Beatles’ song Helter-Skelter, which would also be the title of the book that made prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi rich. That narrative took a beating when Tom O’Neill’s book CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties came out in 2019. The prestigious Times Literary Supplement dubbed it a ‘masterpiece’ and the book sold like hot cakes. I eagerly checked the book’s index for ‘Scientology,’ to see what O’Neill had added to the secret internal Scientology files in my collection. I knew Manson had been deeply involved with the famous mind control training. Finding not a single mention of Scientology, I looked then for a reference to Manson’s autobiography, Without Conscience. There were only two paragraphs, and they related to a pair of spectacles left at the Sharon Tate crime scene. O’Neill ignored the autobiography’s numerous references to Scientology. In his 200-page account, Manson himself said that he had been ‘heavily into dianetics and scientology.’ At that point I put O’Neill’s book aside without reading any further. After a recent video chat, YouTuber Eric Hunley, referring to O’Neill’s book, asked if I knew that my late friend Jolly West had programmed the Manson Family. I was aghast. In my experience, Jolly was a friendly, compassionate, and helpful man. Not the sort of person who would systematically create mayhem and murder. When we first met in 1988 Professor Louis Jolyon ‘Jolly’ West, MD, was the head of the department of neuroscience and biobehavior at UCLA Medical School. We were not close, but we met four times over the next few years, and spent hours talking each time. On our second meeting, his assistant told me he kept two books on his desk – the Bible and my Piece of Blue Sky. She said he would read a few paragraphs whenever he took a break. It cheered him to see that the history of this group which had caused him so much trouble had finally been printed.
Jolly had been an out-spoken critic of Scientology for almost forty years by this time. He had fought off several suits filed against him by Scientology. In a speech to the American Psychiatric Association, he once said, ‘I would like to advise my colleagues that I consider Scientology a cult and L. Ron Hubbard a quack and a fake. I wasn’t about to let them intimidate me.’ He threw down the gauntlet. After sixteen unrelenting years of my own harassment by Scientologists, I can assure you that this was a brave stance. Jolly was an important speaker at Cult Awareness Network and American Family Foundation conferences. I have a recording of an excellent history of hypnotism from one CAN conference. Unlike most in his profession, Jolly recognised the value of hypnotism, a practice that has seen a resurgence in the decades since his death in 1999. Jolly determinedly shared sound information about hypnotism and the potential dangers of hypnotic states at a time when academia smirked at the subject (by the 1970s, only six out of ninety US university courses on psychology included any mention of it). By demonstrating hypnotism, he helped many, many people to avoid control through exploitative persuasion or ‘mind control.’ Hardly the psychopath portrayed by O’Neill, because by definition, psychopaths have no desire to help others. Jolly was a polymath and one of the most intelligent and well-informed people I’ve ever met. Our last meeting was in London. He was en route to a celebration of the work of Patrick O’Brian, author of the Master and Commander novels. Jolly was invited to speak about the accuracy of O’Brian’s descriptions of surgery during the Napoleonic Wars. One of many subjects on which he was expert. Jolly’s research into drugs was well known, especially through the death of the elephant Tusko during the crazy period when LSD was used in experiments on both human and animal subjects by hundreds of researchers around the world (I long ago interviewed an English psychiatrist who had given LSD to an eight-year-old child. It was a time of innocence and stupidity, when hallucinogens were handed out like candy). When I was invited to apply for a doctoral degree for A Piece of Blue Sky by Aarhus University, Jolly was quick to write a fulsome letter of support. He not only stood up to Scientology and other authoritarian sects, but was also active with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Another potentially dangerous pursuit. I was surprised when Tom O’Neill said a former colleague had labelled Jolly ‘the only benevolent psychopath I ever met.’ Psychopaths are not likely to take up good causes. Jolly had put himself in the firing line with both cults and the at times murderous enemies of civil rights. O’Neill also tells us that for forty years Jolly was ‘vehemently against capital punishment,’ an unlikely position for a true psychopath. In CHAOS, O’Neill argues that for twenty years Jolly West was a principal investigator for the CIA’s deplorable MKULTRA mind control programs. As O’Neill says, there were 149 separate ‘experiments’ carried out under the aegis of MKULTRA during that period. He goes on to say that ‘Surviving records name eighty institutions, including forty-four universities and colleges, and 185 researchers…’ O’Neill cites a 1977 New York Times article, which tells us that MKULTRA was ‘a secret twenty-five year, twenty-five million dollar effort by the CIA to learn how to control the human mind.’ Most accounts agree that the program flopped (Naomi Klein takes an interesting contrary position that is highly relevant; but not to our discussion). In an interview with Eric Hunley, Tom O’Neill says that Jolly West was ‘the MKULTRA psychiatrist who I’ve uncovered documents showing that he was a pivotal part of the MKULTRA program for twenty years, and he practically wrote the blueprint for it with Sydney Gottlieb…’ This is a monumental claim based upon a handful of circumstantial evidence. O’Neill does admit his personal disdain for Jolly during their only conversation, where he says Jolly ‘droned on for so long I cut the interview short.’ I never knew Jolly to ‘drone on.’ He was one of the most fascinating conversationalists I’ve ever met. O’Neill tells us that ‘West became my white whale.’ It’s a telling remark, because this makes O’Neill the fervently obsessed Captain Ahab of Melville’s great novel (‘a grand, ungodly, god-like man’). Ahab goes to his death to destroy the white whale in revenge for it taking his leg off. Of course, in the novel – spoiler alert – Captain Ahab goes down lassoed to the whale. I hope the same will not be true for Tom O’Neill. He has done remarkable research, so a follow-up book on the Scientology connection might well save him. O’Neill’s obsession with Jolly is compounded by several statements, peppered throughout his 400-page book. He wants us to believe that Jolly West programmed Manson, but says, ‘I could never prove that he’d [West] examined Manson himself – or that they’d ever met.’ He makes this overblown statement: ‘As a self-styled brainwashing expert, he’d [West] been present whenever mind control reared its ugly head in American culture. Murders, assassinations, kidnappings, cults, prisoners of war – his fingerprints were on all of them.’ All of them? Thousands of people were subjected to Bluebird, MKULTRA, MKNAOMI. West could not possibly have ‘been present’ in every case, and O’Neill gives us no shred of evidence of involvement in any vicious act on Jolly’s part, let alone ‘murders’ or ‘assassination’. Further, O’Neill tells us, ‘I didn’t have a smoking gun … I worried I never would … I could poke a thousand holes in the story [of the killings], but I couldn’t say what really happened. In fact, the major arms of my research were often in contradiction with one another. … to imagine state, local and federal law enforcement cooperating in perfect harmony, with the courts backing them up – it made no sense. What I’d uncovered was something closer to an improvised, shambolic effort to contain the sequence of events without tripping on something. I was a lousy conspiracy theorist … because I wanted nothing left to the realm of the theoretical.’ In the end, however, almost everything is left in ‘the realm of the theoretical.’ And ‘an improvised, shambolic effort to contain the sequence of events without tripping on something’ comes very close to Manson’s own account. O’Neill continues in the same vein, ‘My theory that Manson and West were linked was tenuous, circumstantial, lying solely in the fact that they’d walked the same corridors of the same clinic. Wouldn’t it be more effective to argue that the entire prosecution of Manson was a sham, with Helter Skelter as a cover-up? … Maybe Jolly West didn’t even belong in the book.’ O’Neill then goes with what he himself calls the ‘most “far out” theory,’ which is ‘that Manson was tied to an MKULTRA effort to create assassins who would kill on command.’ I’m dissatisfied that sufficient evidence is provided to draw this conclusion. Or indeed, any evidence. It doesn’t reach the ‘realm of the theoretical’ because it is actually hypothetical rather than theoretical. It remains an untested, unproven hypothesis, a ‘theory’ requires evidence. O’Neill believes that Jolly had ‘claimed to have achieved the impossible’ that ‘he knew how to replace “true memories” with “false ones” in human beings without their knowledge.’ Yet, bringing people to manufacture false memories is an everyday experience. Most people who have undergone ‘past life regression’ (a favourite technique in Scientology) have readily created memories that they will believe to be real, although they can provide no evidence (such memories would include the language spoken by them at the time. No medieval French has been recovered from supposed reincarnated survivors of Agincourt nor any other instance, despite myriad hours of Scientology ‘processing’). One formerly very high-ranking, long-term Scientologist told me she’d seen about two hundred believers reporting that they had been Jesus. At least 199 were mistaken. UK mentalist Derren Brown has induced false memories (and beliefs) during his TV shows within minutes. Elizabeth Loftus spent a career studying the induction of false memories. It is far from ‘impossible.’ In his 1961 study of returnees from Chinese Thought Reform Camps, Robert Jay Lifton calls the change of memory ‘ideology over experience’ or ‘doctrine over person’ where the individual replaces a memory with the group’s description of events.
O’Neill does show that Jolly West had contact with the head of the dreadful MKULTRA program, Sydney Gottlieb. The two corresponded in the 1950s, but Gottlieb used an assumed name (Sherman Grifford). O’Neill does not prove that West was aware that the correspondent was Gottlieb. As O’Neill says, CHAOS, another CIA program, was so secret that when William Colby was appointed director of the CIA, he wasn’t told of its existence. This secrecy extended to the funding of the 149 projects in MKULTRA. A host of front groups were created through which monies could be channelled. These included ‘Chemrophyl Associates’ – the letterhead for ‘Sherman Grifford’ in his correspondence to Jolly West. It is possible and indeed highly likely that Jolly West did indeed receive funding indirectly from the CIA, however, we need to put the CIA’s research projects into context. The CIA represented the US government. While its activities were deplorable, immoral, and illegal — and its members deserved to be incarcerated in mental asylums or prisons — it nonetheless represented a legitimate government and was considered to be ‘making the world safe for democracy’ until the early 1970s, when Victor Marchetti pierced the veil of silence. In his study, Science of Coercion, Communication Research & Psychological Warfare 1945-1960, Professor Christopher Simpson found that over 90 percent of psychological research in the US in the two decades after the war was sponsored by the military: “Military, intelligence, and propaganda agencies such as the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency helped to bankroll substantially all of the post-World War II generation’s research into techniques of persuasion, opinion measurement, interrogation, political and military mobilization, propagation of ideology, and related questions. The persuasion studies, in particular, provided much of the scientific underpinning for modern advertising and motivational techniques. This government-financed communication research went well beyond what would have been possible with private sector money alone and often exploited military recruits, who comprised a unique pool of test subjects.” Which is not to say that the research was morally proper. The various foundations created as fronts were to prevent researchers from knowing the source of their funds. The only possible connection that O’Neill can make is that Jolly West used a ‘crash pad’ in Haight Ashbury in 1967 to monitor the effects of LSD on hippies who were invited to trip there. Some of those hippies were referred by the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic which Manson attended. End of connection. That’s everything O’Neill has about the relationship between Jolly West and Charles Manson. O’Neill would have us believe that Jolly West manipulated Manson for two years. He cannot show that they communicated in any way. He does not track any coincidence in their movements during that two years either. The methods of manipulation are also given scant attention. O’Neill tells us that ‘Manson … had used LSD to collect and reprogram his followers.’ But he also reports Jolly West’s conclusion that ‘Acid … made people more difficult to hypnotize: it was better to pair hypnosis with long bouts of isolation and sleep deprivation.’ He adds to this Dr Eugene Schofield’s assertion that ‘LSD produced disorganized behavior, not violent behavior.’ This is supported by the literature. LSD would not be useful in creating programmed murderers – Manchurian candidates – because it has unpredictable effects. The CIA’s attempt to program students and soldiers with LSD failed. It disorientated rather than increasing obedience. They could find no effective way to distribute it to enemy soldiers and, after thousands of tests, LSD was abandoned as a chemical weapon. If O’Neill had paid attention to Manson’s Without Conscience, he would have found references to the drug most likely to have caused the psychotic behaviour of the Manson gang. O’Neill makes no mention of that drug. Tex Watson participated in both the Tate and the LaBianca murders. He and Manson both refer to a drug they call ‘talatche tea.’ By strange happenstance, at a meeting between us and Jolly West, my friend and colleague Steven Hassan asked Jolly what drug he thought had influenced the Manson Family. Extremely knowledgeable about drugs, without hesitation, Jolly said, ‘jimson weed.’ In Without Conscience, Manson says one ‘Indian Joe’ brought Family member Brenda ‘belladonna’ plants. The roots were boiled to make ‘talatche tea’ by her. Tex ‘picked up a large root and started scarfing it like he was eating an apple. Before the full effect hit him, Tex caught a ride into town. I wasn’t in the kitchen, nor did I know what was going on … I think it was the last time before the trials I saw Tex in what might be called his right mind.’ Manson says that Tex Watson took both ‘talatche’ and LSD before setting off on the Tate murders. After reviewing O’Neill’s and Manson’s books, I contacted an ethnobotanist, who very kindly explained that Manson and Watson had misspelled toloache, which is indeed jimson weed or datura. Here is his report:
‘Datura is common wild to the southwestern US and the Sonoran desert. It is sometimes called thorn apple, which refers to the thorny seed pods. It is also known as devil’s weed or hell’s bells. Once you know what to look for you can spot them all over. Manson and crew would have had ready access to datura around Spahn Ranch and the Simi Hills. It’s pretty easy to get into mischief with datura. It’s free and broadly distributed and will get you loaded, though at a potentially horrific cost. Datura has alluring trumpet-shaped blossoms. In the US West you will find abundant datura, also known as jimson weed or locoweed. All parts of the plant contain the highly toxic tropane alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. The plant is easily located along roads, and is a source of poisoning for both people and animals. The tropane alkaloids are potent medicines in broad pharmaceutical use today. The effects of toloache’ vary greatly according to how you take it. If you make a tea, then it is a very risky business. ‘A mild datura tea may produce somewhat pleasant and dreamy effects, but a stronger tea will be a whole other bad thing. Visions on datura tend to be dark, crazy, evil, gravely disturbing. Most people become distraught and will not take a strong dose twice. It’s the definition of a bad trip. And if the tea is too strong, then you ride a gurney into that big hotel for dead souls. Thousands have died consuming datura in various forms. The seeds of datura may be ground finely and used as a poison or to intoxicate others such that they become open to suggestion. This is currently a known practice among robbers in Colombia. Finely ground seeds are blown into people’s faces, they inhale the powder, and become malleable and empty their ATM’s to robbers. The powdered seeds are also put into drinks, rendering the unsuspecting incapacitated and easy to rob. The Thuggee cult of India, from which we derive the word thug, used datura preparations regularly to kill and rob. It’s a very powerful poison, fast acting, associated with the goddess Kali.’ Datura belongs in a stronger class of drugs than LSD. It is a ‘deleriant’: due to its primary effect of causing delirium, as opposed to the more lucid and less disturbed states produced by other hallucinogens. Manson said, ‘I still don’t believe any of the violence would have erupted if we had controlled the drugs instead of letting them control us.’ It isn’t possible to control datura. It turns the whole world into a hallucination, a living nightmare. We come – at last – to Manson’s involvement with Scientology. In his interview with Eric Hunley – but nowhere in his book – is O’Neill’s single statement about the influence Scientology might have had on Manson: ‘The official narrative is that he audited or was audited for about a hundred hours and absorbed a lot of the techniques, a lot of the language of this ‘religion’ and then walked away from it, but a lot of it stayed, you know, stuff about ego and … all this word play. The question is, was there more to that? … Scientology had been infiltrated by federal agents too, who were using it to accomplish things. And there’s an interesting character who was the one who taught Manson Scientology, who later represented Squeaky Fromm after the assassination attempt of Gerald Ford … in ’75 … Lanier Ramer … Bruce Davis … was suspected in a couple of other murders, including two Scientology teenagers in LA in November of ’69’. I’d love to see information about this use by federal agents of Scientology. The only time I’ve heard it before was back in 1983 from Hubbard’s ‘Second Deputy Commodore’ Captain Bill Robertson, who assured me that Scientology had been taken over by the FBI as part of the alien invasion of Earth which was already underway with two hundred thousand Marcabians in Switzerland under the cover of Transcendental Meditation and the Freemasons. The occasional infiltrator from the intelligence community perhaps, but agents working to ‘accomplish’ something using Scientology? That’s new to me. While I was working on this piece, Steven Hassan, PhD, wrote a column for Psychology Today about the parole request for Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten. To our surprise, Psychology Today pulled the reference to Manson’s Scientology experience. You can see Steve’s response and my email to the timorous magazine here. The expurgated Psychology Today article is here. Scientology relied on a 1971 Guardian newspaper article where the allegation of Manson’s involvement was withdrawn after litigation. This disingenuous tactic conceals Scientology’s certain knowledge that Manson received about 150 hours of dianetic and scientology ‘processing’ from his cell mate Lanier Ramer over a fourteen-month period at McNeil Island penitentiary beginning in 1962. Files seized by the FBI show that Scientology tried to suppress any mention of this involvement. I brought it up in the original edition of Let’s Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky back in 1990. Scientology made no attempt to sue me over the claim, despite launching suits against the book in both New York and London. One of the seized internal Scientology Guardian’s Office documents is headed ‘Re: Our disinformation action on the Process re Manson.’ The Process was a Scientology splinter group that caused Scientology a headache when it was alleged that Manson had been involved with it. Deliberate ‘disinformation’ has been a usual tactic for Scientology for decades, to ‘find or manufacture enough threat … to cause them to sue for peace … Don’t ever defend. Always attack,’ in Ron Hubbard’s words. The key word is ‘manufacture.’ In 1979, Mary Sue Hubbard, Hubbard’s wife and Controller of the Guardian’s Office, was sentenced to five years imprisonment for a long list of crimes including kidnapping, false imprisonment, theft, bugging and burglary. She oversaw the Manson cover-up, which was part of ‘Operation Rawhide.’ Manson was apprehended for the Tate-LaBianca killings in October 1969. On 22 June 1970, a full month before his trial began, a ‘compliance report’ concerning Manson and Family member Bruce Davis was sent to Mary Sue Hubbard. It detailed Manson’s ‘approximately 150 hours of auditing’ and his practice of Training Routine 0 (TR-0) with cell mate Lanier Ramer (a drill that is done for ‘some hours’ according to Hubbard’s instructional bulletin). The report adds that ‘for a time,’ Manson would ‘talk about nothing but Scientology to the extent that people avoided his company.’ Later, he was ‘screaming to get away from his auditor.’ (In the opinion of the report’s author, Manson had been run for too long – or ‘over-run’ – on a ‘process’). This report also says that Leslie Van Houten was ‘interested’ in Scientology. Elsewhere, there is mention of Sandra Good, another Family member, also having an interest in Scientology. Four of the key players in the Manson story had an involvement in a sophisticated system of thought reform. As part of Mary Sue Hubbard’s ‘disinformation’ campaign, the Guardian’s Office had Lanier Ramer sign an affidavit to the effect that he was not a Scientology ‘minister,’ saying ‘I have at no time held nor claimed any licensed, certified, official, or employee position within any Church of Scientology.’ He seems to have been a very dedicated Scientologist, however. A Scientology timeline of Ramer says that he ‘supposedly told Riverside PD that he robbed the bank in order to get money for Scn. courses.’ (‘Scn’ here means ‘Scientology.’) There is no secret that Scientology is an indoctrination in control techniques. Hubbard called this ‘infinite control’ or ‘8C’ (Hubbard often used the number 8 in place of the infinity symbol: ∞). There are many Scientology drills and processes that are supposed to lead to ‘8C’ or ‘Tone 40’ control. The manipulation of others’ emotions is part of the basic drilling of all Scientologists. Manson describes his time in the Gibault Catholic Boys Home from the age of twelve, saying ‘being under five feet tall and weighing less than sixty-five pounds … I was easy pickings for the bullies.’ He spent most of the next fifteen years in institutions being picked on by the bullies. Then he was initiated into the control methods of Scientology – including the famous thousand-mile ‘TR-0’ stare that he and other Scientologists are commonly associated with. We do not know the extent to which Scientology training was a part of Manson’s authority over the Family, but it should surely find a place in any analysis of his behaviour. It is likely that he passed on other elements of Scientology belief to his followers – as may the other three Scientologists in the Family. He certainly shared Scientology’s core belief in reincarnation. Perhaps he taught Training Routines to members of the gang too. As these constitute the first step of Scientology indoctrination, it is likely that Bruce Davis, Leslie Van Houten and Sandra Good were already acquainted with what cult expert Steven Hassan has called ‘the most overt use of hypnosis by any cult group.’ Manson himself said that in 1962 in prison, where he had just learned to read: ‘I studied hypnotism and psychiatry. I found whatever books I could find (and understand) that dealt with mind development. A cell partner turned me on to scientology. With him and another guy I got pretty heavily into dianetics and scientology. Through this and my other studies, I came out of my state of depression. I was understanding myself better, had a positive outlook on life, and knew how to direct my energies to each day and each task. I had more confidence in myself and went the way I chose to go, whereas previously, I had always been content to listen and follow.’ If only Scientology hadn’t bolstered Manson’s confidence. Scientology is the most elaborate and perhaps the most successful system of behaviour modification ever devised. Fervent Scientologists have included NASA scientists, theoretical physicists, high-power trial attorneys, politicians, sociologists, medical doctors – even one psychiatrist – and, of course, many famous actors, composers and musicians. Hubbard rarely told the truth, but when he said of Scientology, ‘We have ways of making slaves here’ and ‘We can brainwash faster than the Russians,’ he was offering his honest opinion. If Manson made slaves, if Manson brainwashed his followers, we must look to his time in Scientology and carefully consider its significance. O’Neill spent twenty years researching CHAOS. He added a great deal of information to the record but as he tells us about one potential interview, ‘I was overthinking everything, and then overthinking my overthinking.’ The book is drenched in speculation. While O’Neill does put to rest the corrupt prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi’s myth of ‘Helter Skelter,’ he replaces it with a far more elaborate and fanciful idea: that the Manson gang’s murders were the consequence of ‘programming’ by Jolly West. He tells us nothing about this programming process. I’ve spent a lifetime investigating the methods of brainwashing, mind control, thought reform, coercive control – call it what you will – and it is vital to have details of any such program; the often incremental steps. The frightening documentary Manson: The Lost Tapes was not available to O’Neill. It shows remaining ‘Family’ members only days after Manson’s arrest and the later testimony of the girls then filmed is a keen insight into the madness of the Family. None of them mention Jolly West. Jolly is indeed O’Neill’s white whale. Chaos is not the only place where he heaps blame upon Jolly. In an interview with Eric Hunley, O’Neill says West ‘snapped’ Ruby into insanity in a single session. No corroborating evidence is offered and no explanation of the method used. In an article in The Intercept, O’Neill asserts ‘Louis Jolyon West seems to have used chemicals and hypnosis liberally in his medical practice, possibly leading to the death of a child and the execution of an innocent man.’ If West could do this in 1954 – when these dreadful events took place – the whole MKULTRA program would have been redundant: if O’Neill’s speculation is accepted, a programmed killer had been made and the CIA’s quest was complete. The program continued for another twenty years without, as far as we know, achieving this objective. While I’ve met many people who were exploited into allowing others to interpret their reality, I’ve yet to find any case among the thousands I’ve looked into where anyone was turned into a compliant robot (my own Opening Our Minds explores the many ways in which obedience, groupthink and deliberate thought reform work). Yes, it is possible to make people act against their own best interests and even their own morality, even to sacrifice their lives for the good of a bogus cause, but to maintain murderous conviction requires rather more than a few positive suggestions and a few tabs of LSD. In fact, the first stage of mind control is the creation of feelings of knowing, a spurious ‘certainty.’ This ‘certainty’ is based upon belief rather than evidence. Mind control is undone when the individual discards the feelings of knowing, the sense of certainty, by accepting hard evidence that they are just feelings. O’Neill has successfully convinced many people of his own certainty. As yet, as he admits, he has only circumstantial evidence to support that certainty. It remains an unproven hypothesis; a speculation, worth further investigation, but not yet worth believing. In O’Neill’s account, West has become a magician with supernatural abilities beyond description or explanation. But O’Neill is not Captain Ahab. He worked not for revenge but in the hope of understanding an awful series of events. That is a noble endeavour. He amassed a mountain of research, and his work was meticulous. I do not question his integrity, just his conclusions. — Jon Atack

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

House of Manson Movie Review

      House of Manson is one of those films that is unfortunately going to fall into the 'I watched it so you don't have to' category. As usual, I'll take a look at the movie from two angles- how well it works as a movie, and whether or not it gets the facts right. House of Manson misses the mark somewhat in both respects. 

    The 2014 film has mostly unknown actors, and definitely has a low budget feel to it. The film starts out with the raid on the ranch (with a soundtrack that sounds more late 1970s classic rock than late '60s), then goes to Sadie confessing in an interrogation room. From there we go to Manson speaking to an attorney and talking about his past. Cut to 1930-40s West Virginia for a montage of scenes- Charlie witnessing his mom having sex, his problems at school, his first marriage, his first experiences with the justice system. these scenes go by too quickly. I was hoping that we would be given to see a bit more of Manson's past. 

    Next we are carried along as Manson starts to assemble his Family. we see short segments of him meeting Mary Brunner, Squeaky, Katie, Sadie, etc.. typical for a Manson movie, most of the girls are too modern looking, or just don't look right for the part. Mary and Katie look far too attractive compared to their real life counterparts, while Sadie looks too modern (the actress bears a resemblance to Minka Kelley from Friday Night Lights). 

    Scenes of Manson meeting Terry Melcher, cutting a demo for him, life at the ranch, Melcher rejecting Manson, an LSD infused mock crucifixion scene complete with the participants spreading blood on themselves, and talk of Helter Skelter play out rapidly. 

     In one scene, Manson's lawyer is a fit, well groomed, clean cut man that is revealed to be Ronald Hughes for some reason. He demands to know how Manson met Sharon Tate, and in other scenes, he grills Manson as if he were a detective, not Charlie's lawyer. 

    The filmmakers spend a little time on the murder of Gary Hinman, but they manage to get the facts wrong. At one point, Sadie tells, him that her father drank himself to death. It is indicated that Hinman was being beaten and tortured for several days, and only then Charlie shows up, takes a sword off of the wall, and slices Hinman's face. Almost immediately after he is murdered. No sewing up his ear, no prayer beads. 

    The Tate killings follow, and despite the inaccuracies, this scene contains what is likely the only standout scene. The killers meet Steven Parent's car while heading up the driveway, and Tex immediately shoots him dead. We get to see Sadie's encounter with Abigail Folger, and Tex's 'I'm the Devil' line. Some of the major inaccuracies here are the appearance of two guns, one wielded by Sadie, the other by Tex. Frykowski is beaten by Tex on the couch. Abigail is chased down and killed by Katie, with no help from Tex at all. Frykowski is also not shot at all. 

    Abigail Folger's death is the most harrowing and well done scene of the movie. The actress that plays Katie is in an absolute frenzy during this scene, and Abigail's plea to stop because she is already dead is pretty chilling. Kudos to both actresses for this scene. 

    The LaBiancas the next night is a shorter scene. Charlie exits the house and tells Leslie and Katie to go inside. He and Linda and an actor who is much to old to be Clem then drive off. The murders move rapidly, with Katie again in an absolute frenzy. the scene is so chaotic it is hard to keep up. Eventually Tex hands Leslie what looks like a knife that Rambo would've carried and has her stab Rosemary (it appears that Rosemary is still alive at this point).

  The final big scene is the raid on the ranch, to the strains of Amazing Grace(!). Some of the law enforcement extras here looks really out of place for the time period. Some look like they are from the 21st century, while other look like they would be at home in the Beastie Boys 'Sabotage' video from the eighties, with sunglasses and big bushy mustaches and polyester pants. Afterwards, we get to see Ronald Hughes (court appointed mind you) refuse to represent Manson because Charlie had the murders committed because 'you're not a rock star.' I guess that is a good thing, since he was Leslie's lawyer anyway. 

    Overall, I would say this movie is for anyone that absolutely has to see every available movie about TLB. The inaccuracies will drive some of us nuts. If you can overlook those, the low budget acting might not hold much appeal. Even as far as low budget Manson movies go, this one doesn't stand up to Manson, My Name is Evil or The Last of the Manson Girls. Both of those films had that something extra that is lacking in this film. The actresses that played Katie and Abigail do a great job, but the scenes are relatively short, and unable to rescue the film. Maybeif they would have cleaned up some of the inaccuracies, and possibly delved into Manson's past more, it might have been enough to bring it up a notch or two. I would say this one is for Manson completists only.