Helter Skelter is a 1976 TV film based on the 1974 book by prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry. In the United States, it aired over two nights. In some countries it was shown in theatres with additional footage (nudity, language and more violence).
The movie is based upon the murders committed by the Charles Manson Family. The best-known victim was actress Sharon Tate. The films title was taken from the Beatles' song of the same name. According to the theory put forward by the prosecution, Manson used the term for an anticipated race war, and "healter skelter” was scrawled in blood on the refrigerator door at the house of one of the victims. It recounts the murders Manson committed, the investigation, and the 1970-71 trial where prosecuting D.A. Bugliosi attempted to draw connections between the Manson family and his violent convictions.
Helter Skelter is directed by Tom Gries, stars Steve Railsback as Manson and George DiCenzo as Bugliosi. Writer JP Miller received a 1977 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best TV Feature or Mini Series Teleplay.
As of this Super 8 double album, (now joined onto a full 600ft), released by Iver Film services, the colour has held up really well with no signs of fade yet. Sound is very good if lacking in bit of bass but through the pioneer amp it is pretty good. The sourced material, while good appears to be a little dirty in places with some black marks, (not scratches) evident, but over all a very good print.
The thing to bear in mind here is that this was originally shown here in the UK over two nights as this movie made for TV was 194 minutes long and was one of the many Lorimar TV productions released along with many other television series.
The idea of cutting this into 30 minutes is one hefty task. Clearly there was an awful lot of padding but Iver have actually done a first rate job with this one, a tense opening with the murders briefly setting the scene,(with some of the Beatles music from the album), for a pretty disturbing half an hour.
I would much prefer to watch this half hour version rather sit through over three hours worth. You certainly do not have to have seen the full film to understand the story.
Looking at this Iver version my guess is that they have taken this from the cinema extended movie version as there is a lot more blood shown,(and one use of the F word) that was missing from the original TV version.