The Creepy Crawl of Manson Exploitation 1971-1979
9-2-71, New York City
Leave it to an upcoming special with Charles Manson to get The Scene back into action once more. As readers know, this Blog has reported on Manson-inspired films in the past, but it seems timely to do a “Best Of” ad collection of Manson Exploitation due to new findings as well as the new visitors who might show up on a daily basis. One of my favorites is Sweet Saviour, the showcase for Troy Donahue in his Hippie look which actually suits him fine as the Motorcycle-riding leader of a murderous cult of followers in the “Family” mode. There were many interesting films in the Late 60’s and Early 70’s featuring one-time Teen idols trying to get their groove in with new generation, but this one was one of the more darker dives into Exploitation which still has a bit of a shock now.
5-14-71 – Detroit
Duffy Films, the Adult sub-division/shadow company of Maron Films (Daughters of Darkness among others), unleashed what might be the most re-titled and mysterious of the bunch in The Cult. It’s theatrical history can make one imagine the narrator of the Manson Documentary saying “Also known as the Love Cult. Also known as Together Girls. Also known as the Manson Massacre. Also known as Girls in Bondage”. The only way one can see this film today is dubbed into German, although one hopes that someone somewhere comes up with an English print of the only film of “Kentucky Jones” that still raises some interest among fans of lower-level Crime Sin-ema which played Detroit in it’s first run in four Adult-level theaters including the Michigan before turning into a concert hall.
Around this time, a film called The Slaughter was showing at some theater in NYC to very little success. The Michael Findlay film made in Argentina loosely base on the Manson story would later turn up as another title in another time…
3-6-70, LA – The groupings of smaller ads in the LA Times are great to look at, and this is one very sleazy Adult section with the Commune, reportedly and understandably the first Manson Exploitation film to be released ever. Playing on 3-11-70, not much has been heard about it except for being the work of Monroe Beehler, who was better known with All-Male films including Inside The AMG (Athletic Model Guild) and The Boy with the Hungry Eyes.
2-11-72, Burlington, NC – The promotion of Sweet Saviour changed to look more like a Biker epic only to some success, although it’s X rating that was possibly seen as ultra cool upon release was proven to be a hurdle when bringing it through the country.
9-8-72, Clovis, NM – This showing paired it off with another Universal-Marion release, One Swedish Summer. Although it was a good way to present two X-Rated films with no serious hassle, it was in the days when Deep Throat was giving the Adult film world a new meaning making these films a little quaint by comparison.
4-21-72, Chicago – The “Love” Cult was promoted as a typical Hippie chick flick…OOPS!
10-14-72, Kansas City – Although The Other Side of Madness was made in 1970, it had to wait some time for an official US release. Wade Williams’ film had a very effective B&W style with one short color sequence and Charles Manson’s “Mechanical Man” in the soundtrack. Although quickly made to get it out when the story was hot, it has a dark “you are there” magic to it in some of the scenes and the use of Sean Bonniwell’s music including the instrumental track of “Dark White” as the theme.
At the intent of offering some good clips as the Helter Sketer Murders was pulled off of You Tube, here’s the classic Music Machine song and a track from Sean Bonniwell’s solo album from 1969 that’s perfectly moody enough for this article.
2-23-73, Terre Haute, Indiana – A very effective alternative ad was used in some cities.
9-21-73, Lincoln, Nebraska – Laurence Merrick’s and Robert Hendrickson’s classic Documentary was originally distributed through AIP to much success, although some areas like Detroit had to wait for it on it’s re-release. Although far more audience-friendly, this still is a good look into the life of “The Family” including scenes that might still raise a chill in some viewers today.
3-23-73, Pittsburgh – Possibly the best ad for Together Girls, a re-re-release of The Cult. while using a word that was connected to the popular Sexploiation Educational flick Together, this was certainly not a love feast. despite the X rating.
2-28-73, Uniontown, PA – Once again, the X rating saw to it that “Together Girls” was playing with like-rated Sexploitation flicks in programs that must have sent mixed messages…not the the audience cared!
6-26-75 – With a ban on the documentary dropped in California, Manson was showing to good success across the state as a grim reminder of what happened in 1969. I can see it also inspiring the cult of fans as well. Wonder if Darby Crash caught one of these showings…
9-26-75, Youngstown – The scattered playdates of The Other Side of Madness continue. Here, the use of the ad mat that centered on Debbie Duff as Sharon Tate was used.
10-20-74, Oil City, Penn. – Although Together Girls played with several light X-Rated flicks, this pairing with Jess Franco’s classic Nunsploitation film is possibly the most inspired pairing of it’s Mid 70’s run.
2-20-76, Chicago – Capitalizing on the recent events of Lynnette Fromme’s aiming a gun at Gerald Ford, there was a new way to promote the Documentary, although it would only be used a few times. To the outsider, it possibly looked like the evil love story!
6-17-76, Detroit – A strong playdate for the Manson Documentary in the Detroit area with one Downtown showing at the Adams was given a good review in the Detroit News! Like the LA showing, I wonder if any future Punk Rockers caught these showings.
10-2-76, Akron – Manson hit the Rubber City following the success of the classic Helter Skelter TV movie while…
…the Motor City gets The Cult as the Manson Massacre. I would doubt if anyone remembered if they saw it when it was the Cult back in ’71.
3-19-76 Detroit and 3-17-76, LA – With a tacked on final scene by distributor Allan Shakleton that trued to make it look real but only looking like a New York version of an HG Lewis movie at best, Snuff makes it’s way out of NYC and through The US to much controversy. This would later play in The D for another 1976 showing in October!
10-22-76, Des Mounes – The Manson Massacre plays with Squirm and the class-sick Mark of the Devil!
2-18-77, Detroit area – A double dose of Creepy Crawl hits Detroit as Sweet Saviour, renamed the Love Thrill Murders, and the legendary documentary hits the area. By this time, Omni has The Love Thrill Murders rated R, and by the 80’s, Lloyd Kaufman would bring it over to Troma for a very successful video release.
2-5-77, San Antonio – The Love thrill Murders gained a couple of Texas dates by this time as well.
12-22-77, Anniston – The Hills Have Eyes is seen with The Love Thrill Murders in a diabolical double bill.
5-27-77, San Antonio – The Other Side of Madness as the Helter Skelter Murders also made it’s way to Texas.
11-18-79, Louisville – Headed for the Last Run, the Preston Drive in presents the House of shame and girls in bondage double bill with Pets, the 70’s sleaze feast that slithered through the country for years. The Temple of Schlock has confirmed that Girls in Bondage is another title for The Cult and the pair ran for a few years at any screen that would play them.
11-9-79, Chicago – the powerful Documentary was still making it’s way through the Midnight circuits at the malls. It would only be a couple of years before Monterey Home Video presents the big box that would be a rental favorite for years.