This was a very different kind of picture.
The Helter Skelter Murders was an independently produced film centering around the Manson murders, with the rare distinction that the film was being made while the trial was still going on. It's a sort of grim reality when there's a mad rush to make the first film to capitalize on a tragedy, and the Manson murders were front and center on every newspaper at that time. But to be fair, it's really not entirely the film you would expect. It's this odd mix where it's 1/3 courtroom drama, 1/3 home invasion movie, and 1/3 student film. Eventually it does lead up to the Tate murders and you figure it will be a total bloodbath for just exploitation sake but the director takes a different approach. A lot of the film is silent, and the black and white cinematography is quite honestly handled really well, with great use of shadows and one of the best examples of a film turning to color since Wizard Of Oz and don't even ask me how they achieved that. It was impressive in the 30s as much as it is impressive in the 70s. The entire climax of the film follows the events of the crime very accurately, building a lot of suspense and tension before the brutality begins. I will say you pretty much need to know the case backwards and forwards, none of the criminals or victims are named so you could honestly show this to someone who has no real knowledge of the Manson's and get their opinions on it. I'll tell you this much, it warrants that R rating big time, there is plenty of nekkid parts to almost qualify this as softcore porn and the murders did actually elicit a strong gut reaction from me. I know we could argue on the moral dilemmas of making films like these, potraying real life crimes but to what end or means, but it seems to me the director wanted to document the event and put his own style and substance to it, which does make for a memorable film. The visual style is really damn good, the soundtrack is chock full of late 60s music some of which is worth owning, it treats the material seriously and doesn't shy away from the events, and I've just never seen a movie quite like this before. You can find it totally free on the Internet Archive, a majorly helpful tool in my review history and I do recommend it if only just to see something different. 3 stars, 7/10, and I will be back next time with quite possibly the best of the lot as we see a seamless blending of fiction and reality.