Shot in 1974, this is one peculiar piece of work. Springing from director’s John Aes-Nihil’s not altogether healy obsession with the Manson murders, this takes the rumour that the Family filmed their activities and tries to make it flesh. What you see is a series of very convincing-looking Super 8 mm reels of the Family doing their thing, culminating in re-enactments of the Tate-La Bianca murders. Frankly, I’m somewhat at a loss for how to rate this. The home movies look very real, right dow… to every bit of grain and scratched emulsion, not to mention the flat approach to filming (exactly how someone untrained in the use of a camera would shoot this footage). But the point of the exercise, beyond the working out of an obsession (the film is shot in the actual locations), escapes me. However, this is definitely a fine example of something.
There is no dialogue (these are silent reels, after all), but there is a backing score that has been added, and it works quite well in establishing and building atmosphere (everything from acoustic ballads to aggressive industrial noise). The 2.0 mix handles the music well, if not spectacularly.
Rating the picture quality here is completely pointless, so don’t take the star rating seriously. The picture looks like crap, but it’s supposed to. This is what Super 8 looks like (no no no, you young whippersnappers, not the Super 8 you put into camcorders, the Super 8 film). Nothing wrong with the transfer.
Aes-Nihil commentary is a little on the odd side (which shouldn’t be a surprise, given his movie), but is certainly very informative. But if you really want strange and dubious, there’s a half-hour interview with Charles Manson. Interviewer Bill Scanlan Murphy’s questions are almost completely inaudible, but Manson comes through clearly enough (eeek!). There are outtakes, and the most tasteless still gallery yet committed to DVD: the LAPD crime scene and morgue photos of the murders. The menu’s main and chapter selection screens are animated and scored (with a very irritating song).
Not for casual viewing, this will be an essential pick-up for connoisseurs of the extreme fringe.
Special Features List
- Director’s Commentary
- Charles Manson Interview
- Outtakes with Director’s Commentary
- LAPD Photos