Feature 35mm 93:00 2003 Midwest Premiere
The Chicago Underground Film Festival is pleased to present Jim Van Bebber’s THE MANSON FAMILY, one of the most talked about and eagerly anticipated underground films of the last decade. Charles Manson and his Family dealt the final deathblow to the peace and love of the 1960’s. Van Bebber’s epic independent feature paints the most accurate and uncompromising picture of the most infamous cult of all time and the crimes that shook the world.
Conceived in the early 90’s as a straightforward docudrama, the film’s scope expanded over the years to become a multi-layered final word on the tragic events of August 9th & 10th 1969 as well as the impact those events continue to have on popular culture. The film combines detailed recreations of the Family members’ lives, chronicling of the events on the Spahn Ranch that led to the Tate-LaBianca killings and contemporary jailhouse interviews with The Family as well as a chilling look at a group of Manson-obsessed, nihilistic punk teenagers. Connecting these narrative strands is a tabloid television journalist producing a special focusing on The Family. Stylistically, The Manson Family fuses classic grindhouse horror with an experimentalism rooted in the underground referencing the transcendent death trip of the Cinema of Transgression to Kenneth Anger’s hallucinogenic occultism.
The production of THE MANSON FAMILY has become the stuff of legend. Starting it’s life as CHARLIE’S FAMILY, rumors circulated about Van Bebber’s means of funding his epic; rumors ranging from flipping burgers at a Wendy’s to armed robbery. Fueled by a handful of work-in-progress screenings (including an unadvertised midnight preview which stunned a standing room only crowd at the 1997 Chicago Underground Film Festival), the screenplay has been published (Creation Books, London) and the soundtrack CD released (Metropolis) but the film seemed cursed to never be completed. Finally, thanks to an angel deal with Blue Underground UK, completion money was secured and the finished version premiered in England in late 2003. Van Bebber refused to compromise his ultimate portrait of the American nightmare. Be warned, once seen this film will not be forgotten.
“A soul shredding, intense firestorm of cinema verite’; a scalding and courageous debunking of the Manson mythos and a horrifying epiphany of the highest order…Welcome to the belly of the beast”. – Chas Balun, Deep Red
“Wound tighter than a midnight creepy-crawl.” – Jack Sargeant