Manson Exploitation – The Other Side of Madness


10-14-72, Kansas City

To be factual, this was originally Rated X by the MPAA, reported in Dec. 1971, but was later Re-Rated R by this showing in 1972. I wonder what was cut…

One of the interesting chapters of 70’s Exploitation history has been the films centered around the Manson Murders, with some of them being influences to Jim VanBebber’s 2003 Manson Family, especially that of the famous Documentary which this series of articles will get to soon. With “The Family” a major interest of True Crime buffs mainly for being the darker side of the 60’s Counter Culture and it’s connection to some Hollywood names including noted murdered Actress Sharon Tate, it’s a sordid chapter in history that was open to a lot of film makers who made films that are still considered cult classics by a few with some having very interesting stories within the making of them.  Of course,people like me with inquiring minds wanted to know about these releases following up on my finding of the Youngstown ad from 1975.

(sadly, the Beardy Freak review of the first film in this series on his site is now part of the Wayback Machine without the pictures, although the film can also be found at the Internet Archive, too, although if you only want the best parts, scroll down.)


Terre Haute, Indiana, 2-23-73

Wade Williams, a noted Kansas City-based film exhibitor and owner of several classic films including the best known of the Edward D Wood catalog (Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 From Outer Space), decided to take the real first step in Manson Exploitation with The Other Side of Madness, although of course there were lesser films that were slightly based but not full on exploiting the case on film. Planned to be filmed in “Auric-Vision” in early reports, this was mainly a stark B&W film with a color sequence that was partially filmed in the areas the notorious murders took place but with it’s effect almost ruined in some parts by some very cheaply made courtroom scenes and a weak color segment featuring Debbie Duff as Sharon Tate in some kind of movie which has nothing connected to any of the real actress’ films. Thankfully, with some very interesting moments including scenes that try to describe what the whole Helter Skelter thing was all about, throwing in a dash of the Occult and the scenes depicting the Tate-LaBianca murders, Frank Howard’s only film still has an effective creepy feeling which was fitting for it’s showings through The 70’s which possibly worked the hardest while being in a very small audience.


9-26-75, Youngstown

This also played the Detroit area a few times through the Late 70’s…more later on that!

Highlighted by a great score by Sean Bonniwell of The Music Machine who was by then moving into the world of Exploitation films after his solo album as TS Bonniwell went not noticed (The instrumental track of Bonniwell Music Machine’s “Dark White” is used to great effect in the opening credits), and the appearance of Manson’s “Mechanical Man” on the soundtrack, the film works in a few places despite none of the actors having any similarity to the real life characters in the story. Filmed when the trail was happening, with someone taking notice of what has been said, this had some controversial value when it was first released and the “You Are There” style is quite good. Despite slight success, the classic Documentary was soon to be released, killing the effect of the film in quick time, but not without some replay value.


5-27-77 – With the legendary TV Movie Helter Skelter re-awakening the interest in the story, the film was re-released as The Helter Skelter Murders. The VHS generation turned this into a cult hit when released through Media Home Entertainment and the DVD though Englewood Entertainment was also a small hit in the early days of the format making it’s way to the stores.


~ by screen13 on December 14, 2015.

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