Charles Manson was a criminal and cult leader. His followers were known as his family members, he was closely associated with the words (and book and song and films) “Helter Skelter", and his most notable victims were those involved in the Tate–LaBianca murders.
During his most active years, while he was in prison and even since his passing in 2017, there has been a sort of buzz around him, and many pieces of entertainment focus on him and his life. The following 10 movies are all about Manson and The Manson Family and are all must-watch items for those interested in learning more.
10 Helter Skelter
In 1974, a book came out by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry called Helter Skelter, and in 1976, a made-for-TV movie of the same name was released over two nights. Its name came from a Beatles' song with the same name, which Charles Manson used as a phrase to reference a possible upcoming race war. The movie itself gave details on The Manson Family’s activities and the investigation that followed, led by Vincent Bugliosi, a Los Angeles District Attorney who then wrote about it all. A second television flick that was inspired by the book came out in 2004, too.
9 Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood just came out, thanks to Quentin Tarantino. It is set in LA, in 1969, and focuses on an actor and his stunt double. Actress Sharon Tate and her husband, director Roman Polanski, move in next door, though, so this film actually has a big focus on Charles Manson.
The ensemble cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton (the actor), Brad Pitt as Cliff Booth (the stunt double), Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, Austin Butler as Charles "Tex" Watson, Dakota Fanning as Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme and Damon Herriman as Charles Manson (and Herriman also plays Manson in Mindhunter).
8 The Manson Family
The Manson Family came out in 2003 to tell the story of Charles Manson and his family. Interviews and flashbacks help to give all the details from this group’s time living in a commune, breaking into houses in Los Angeles and leading up to the evening involving the Tate-LaBianca parties. After that night’s events, the movie goes on to show Manson getting arrested and using his followers to speak out to the media and support him. It stars people such as Marcello Games, Marc Pitman, Leslie Orr and Maureen Allisse.
7 Live Freaky Die Freaky
For a stop motion-animated film about Charles Manson’s life, there is Live Freaky Die Freaky. It came out on DVD in 2006, as well as was released in a couple of theaters. It stars a nomad from the future who finds the book Helter Skelter and thinks it is the bible.
He even puts an “X” on his head at the end, since he now looks up to Manson, after hearing his story and thinking he was a saviour of sorts. This independent film featured performances by stars, too, such as Billie Joe Armstrong, Kelly Osbourne, Travis Barker and Benji and Joel Madden.
6 The Six Degrees Of Helter Skelter
The Six Degrees of Helter Skelter is a crime documentary from the year 2009. The story is told by a well-known Hollywood historian named Scott Michaels, and it is full of exciting details: There are never-before-seen autopsy reports, music from The Manson Family, interesting photos and looks at more than 40 locations related to this infamous man and his actions. This retelling of Charles Manson’s life (with a focus on the murders committed by Manson and his followers in August 1969) is robust and unique and is directed by Michael Dorsey.
5 Charles Manson Superstar
In 1989, Charles Manson Superstar was released, as yet another story centered around this man and his life. Charles Manson Superstar is a documentary from Nikolas Schreck, and it involves words straight from Charles Manson himself on how he did what he did and why he thinks what he thinks.
The interviews with Manson were filmed while he was locked away, inside San Quentin Prison, and the film also features narrations, images of things like Spahn Ranch, clips and songs - including two of Manson's: "Clang Bang Clang" and "Mechanical Man".
Another documentary, titled Manson, was released in 1973. This one features lots of interviews with Charles Manson and his family members, like Squeaky Fromme. There is also footage of the group at Spahn Ranch, Barker Ranch, Los Angeles’ Hall of Justice and other important locations.
Music in the film is from The Manson Family and Brooks Poston and Paul Watkins, former associates of Manson’s. Also, in 1975, Fromme attempted to take out President Gerald Ford, and at this time, the movie was banned by a U.S. district court judge, to give Fromme rights to a fair and speedy trial.
3 Charlie Says
During the 75th Venice International Film Festival, Charlie Says was shown. This biographical flick, which then come out through IFC Films in 2019, focused on a graduate student who met three of Charles Manson’s female followers and wanted to help them realize what was going on and what they were really involved in.
Hannah Murray, known for playing Gilly on Game of Thrones, portrayed Leslie Van Houten; model Suki Waterhouse portrayed Mary Brunner; Chace Crawford, known for his roles in Gossip Girl and The Boys, portrayed Tex Watson; and Matt Smith, from shows like Doctor Who and The Crown, portrayed Charles Manson.
2 The Haunting Of Sharon Tate
Charles Manson’s most notable victim was actress Sharon Tate, who is the focus of The Haunting of Sharon Tate. This thriller came out in 2019, and it had some notable stars in it: Hilary Duff, from shows such as Lizzie McGuire and Younger and films such as A Cinderella Story and Cheaper by the Dozen, played Sharon Tate.
Jonathan Bennett, who as Aaron Samuels in Means Girls, played Jay Sebring. And Lydia Hearst, a model who is the great-granddaughter of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst and daughter of Patty Hearst (who has her own interesting story from back in the day), played Abigail Folger.
1 Manson Family Vacation
As one can see, there are a great deal of works - even many more than the ones listed out here - about this infamous man. The last suggestion for today is Manson Family Vacation. Manson Family Vacation is about two brothers (one who is a family man and one who is more into Manson's family) who visit Charles Manson’s murder sites, and this comedy movie was introduced to the world at South by Southwest in the year 2015. After that, it dropped on Netflix, as well. This film stars people like Jay Duplass as Nick, Tobin Bell as Blackbird and Matt Bennett as Buddy Holly.