Sunday, May 27, 2012
It May Be the Devil or It May Be the Lord, But You're Gonna Have to Serve Somebody
The Manson Family isn't a film I'm prepared to recommend, by the way. It's probably a cop out to say that it resists such notions as "bad" or "good," but many people have and will continue to hate it, and many probably have good reason to. It was made very cheaply and looks it, almost all of the acting is weak and unprofessional, which follows given that none of the actors were professionals, but Van Bebber doesn't show much facility for dragging anything interesting out of that situation as, say, Steven Soderbergh has done. Also, functioning as it does, in part, as an exploitation horror film, many would no doubt balk at the rudimentary spook-show imagery -- Manson and Watson appear as the Devil during moments of either hallucinatory drug binges or murder -- as well as some even more rudimentary symbolism, such as when Manson is dressed as Christ and takes part in a blasphemous crucifixion. But where Van Bebber's critics don't have much ground to stand on, and the angle I've gathered many of them have taken, has to do with the film's violence, which is substantial and graphic. As you'd probably expect, even though this story has been dramatized with considerably more coyness in that regard several times in the past.
Van Bebber has his limits, though. The murder of the eight-months-pregnant Sharon Tate is the least graphic one in the film, by a huge degree. Even Van Bebber is capable of flinching.