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Helter Skelter [Import]

George DiCenzo , Steve Railsback , Tom Gries    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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The investigation of two horrific mass murders leads to the capture and trial of the psychotic pseudo-hippie Charles Manson and his "family". "Based on the bestselling book by Vincent Bugliosi, the two-part TV movie Helter Skelter is a clinical but often chilling recount of the arrest and trial of Charles Manson and his cult for a pair of horrific murders in 1969. Character actor George DiCenzo is a bit dry as prosecutor Bugliosi, who must patch together a series of far-flung clues to incarcerate Manson for the murder spree, which claimed the life of actress Sharon Tate, among others; he and the rest of the capable cast (which includes Marilyn Burns from the '74 Texas Chainsaw Massacre) are completely overshadowed by Steve Railsback's disturbing performance as Manson. Railsback is the main reason to revisit this feature, which shocked many during its network run in 1976, but now seems methodical in its pacing and direction. Warner Bros.'s DVD is the longer 184-minute version of the film, which should please viewers accustomed to the 119-minute rebroadcast cut; otherwise, the disc is disappointingly supplement-free." --Paul Gaita

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What's With The Censoring??? June 10 2004
Bought this TV classic, which has been LONG OVERDUE for DVD release, and was EXTREMELY dissapointed to find it has been censored. Yes, censored. I have a copy of the original 2-part on VHS, and I was stunned to find out that this DVD release is censored.
The cops raid Manson and his family at Spahn's Ranch and have gathered them up in a circle, with Charlie in the center. The cops bring in a handcuffed Shorty, who claims he's not part of the family. He offers to tell the police what he knows, which brings out jeers of SNITCH from the famlily. Charlie looks up an says, "It's not nice to snitch, Shorty." Shorty promptly replies, "Go f*** yourself, Charlie. This DVD version has Shorty instead saying "Horse manure."
When Bugliosi is interviewing Paul Watkins (the man who first explains to Vince what Helter Skelter means), he says that people are "scared s***less." This is painfully dubbed over with a cough.
The biggest dissapointment was in that during the trail, when Linda Kasabian is testifiying about the Tate murders, the scenes of carnage (which had previously been seen clearly) are shown with Kasabian and Bugliosi super-imposed.
My question is, why? This DVD would have been an instant 5, but I felt as though I was watching a version of "Cannonball Run" on TV.
This DVD release does not do this film justice. You do not get the full impact of this powerful film due to the censorship. Very puzzling.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Chilling True-Crime Classic! First-Class DVD! April 21 2004
1976's "Helter Skelter" is an intense and quite suspenseful TV movie, starring Steve Railsback, who is so good as Charles Manson, it's rather eerie. The film also stars George DiCenzo, as Los Angeles prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. The tele-film is based on Mr. Bugliosi's best-selling true-crime novel of the same title.
The film is told in semi-documentary style (with DiCenzo doubling as narrator throughout the movie). It begins with a very spine-chilling scene in the early-morning hours of August 9, 1969, in Los Angeles, California. We hear multiple gunshots from a distance. Gunshots which emanated from nearby 10050 Cielo Drive, the home of movie director Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife, 26-year-old actress Sharon Tate.
The gunshots were fired by a member of Charles Manson's so-called "Family". And so began one of the most bizarre chapters in the history of crime -- a senseless massacre, claiming the lives of seven innocent people, that became commonly known as the "Tate/LaBianca Murders".
Manson's "zombie" killers racked up five murders at the Tate residence, and the next night went out and killed two more people they had never met, Mr. and Mrs. LaBianca, at 3301 Waverly Drive, in another part of Los Angeles (Los Feliz).
(In my own view, Manson and his team of brainwashed murderers should *really* have been charged with EIGHT killings in August 1969. Number eight being the unborn child of Sharon Tate.)
The film recreates the discovery of the two grisly murder scenes with nerve-wracking effectiveness, but without showing too much gore, which is all the better (as well as tasteful).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Helter Skelter Sept. 10 2011
To have even found this dvd and then to find it in mint condition, what else is there to say? It arrived in a timely fashion and I have seen things in this movie that I had forgotten or not understood when I had first seen it decades ago. I'm glad to have added this to my collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable presentation of pure evil July 9 2004
This is one of the videos I've been waiting for to come out on DVD for a long time.
I watched this lengthy film in one-sitting one summer when I was living alone. I remember turning the light on at one point when the plot began to take a sinister turn. I was grateful for that light when the movie ended and it was dark outside. I seem to remember sitting quietly after the credits were over, and I contemplated what I had just seen.
If you read my review of the Bugliosi/Gentry book, you'll see how powerfully the story itself affected me. Well, this presentation captures both the essence and the emotion of the narrative. It is both chilling and compelling. The acting, driven along by the astonishing Railsback, is among the best I've seen in a true-crime drama.
I'm so glad the filmmakers didn't cut as many corners as they could have. They retain the essential story line and characters to assure that those who have seen the film know almost as much as those who have read the book. Frankly a litany of all the ways the police proved themselves to be incompetent was a tedium I would gladly forego.
Both well-crafted and powerfully presented, this is a keeper, worth watching and re-watching.
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... because the subject is a gruesome one.... However. It is an electrifying experience watching this movie... I saw it in the 80s... and it still is as potent as it used to be.... Steve Railsback may overplay at times but overrall - a GREAT achivement and it should be released over and over ..... It really speaks from the graves of Sharon, Voytek, Abigail, Steven, Jay, Hinman, the LaBiancas, Shorty etc... etc... Who KNOWS really... how long the "etc" goes on????
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally out, and not a pale imitation like 2004
Well, it's finally out. About time, although it will probably be supplanted by the recent inferior CBS remake this year. Read more
Published on June 9 2004 by L. Wagner
5.0 out of 5 stars A DVD WORTH WAITING FOR
Published on May 29 2004 by Manic Obsession Music
5.0 out of 5 stars A Faithful Adaption
After sitting through three hours of the horrible CBS remake of this movie (May 2004), I am pleased to see that the original is available on DVD. Read more
Published on May 19 2004 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Long Awaited Helter Skelter
It's taken years to finally get this tele-film released in it's entirety as seen on CBS in two nights during March of 1976. Read more
Published on May 11 2004 by Eddy Matten
4.0 out of 5 stars Faithful adaptation of book
When this first aired in 1976 on CBS-TV, it was the first made-for-TV film to really push the envelope in terms of graphic violence. Read more
Published on May 5 2004 by Matthew T. Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying as it was a true story
Finally, the original 1976 movie of "Helter Skelter" is released on DVD.Although there are no special features, I assue when the CBS re-make, which airs in May,204, is... Read more
Published on April 30 2004 by John Seger
4.0 out of 5 stars They made us wait and still missed the mark
Well, FINALLY the studio released this title on DVD. Thankfully they released it as the original TV version rather than rehashing the old (and disappointing) Key Video version. Read more
Published on April 22 2004 by witttiger93
5.0 out of 5 stars Great leap forward to DVD
"Helter-Skelter", the excellent TV mini-series based on the Tate-LoBianco murders in 1969, has finally been released in its entirety on DVD and the result is worth... Read more
Published on April 22 2004 by JLind555
5.0 out of 5 stars helter skelter
its about time this movie came out on dvd in full length.people can see the whole story now.
Published on April 21 2004
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