Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Weirdness:Sean Bonniwell and The Manson Family

I've long been fascinated by The Manson Family, not in a cult hero sort of way but there's something so unbelievably creepy about them that I find myself drawn to reading or watching anything I can get my hands on about them.
Charlie or Felix Cavaliere?

Now this guy DOES sort look like Tex Watson

Back in the early 90's I lived near an amazing video rental store that stocked the most off the wall shit on VHS.  Among the treasure trove there was a 1971 film called "The Helter Skelter Murders".  In retrospect it's a pretty awful film, bad acting, at times the film is in color then reverts back to b&w, bad directing, the guy playing Manson looks like Felix Cavaliere from The Rascals, oh I could go on and on. BUT it has it's merits, the rest of the cast actually look like the Family members they're portraying and even better, the musical director was one Thomas Sean Bonniwell (aka Sean Bonniwell) of the Music Machine.  The theme tune during the opening credits is a super eerie instrumental version of "Dark White" (the tune itself with vocals appears frequently in the film) which is played while there's grainy negative footage of a moth being devoured in a spider's web.  Uber creepy!  You can watch it below, you'll have to wait till about the 5:00 mark before the credits/music begins. They also use "Eagle Never Hunts The Fly" in a "freak out scene at Golden Gate Park" as a bunch of long hairs looking like The Electric Flag or Country Joe pretend to play while a witness recounts on the stand how she met Charlie as well as "Soul Love" and a T.S. Bonniwell tune from his '69 LP "Close" called  "Where Am I To Go".  I've always been curious how he wound up involved with this flick!

Even more creepy is they even got the real Charlie Manson's music in the film with one track (the wiggy "Mechanical Man")!  Beyond the cast looking like members of the Family the people playing their victims look like the actual persons they are playing in many instances as well.  The layout of the house/yard for the Sharon Tate slaying scene looks as if it had been filmed on the actual location at 10050 Cielo Drive in Benedict Canyon (it wasn't). The scene is quite distrubing, more so than the 1976 TV movie "Helter Skelter" (featuring Beatles music by a band called "Rain"!) because it's graphic without resorting to slasher style gore and occurs pretty much the way we've all read it going down.

For more on the film you can get the specifics from imdb.com:


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