'The Other Side of Madness: 4K Transfer' [Blu-ray]
(Brian Klinknett, Erica Bigelow, Paula Shannon, et al / Blu-ray+CD / NR / (1971) 2020 / The Film Detective)
Overview: 'The Other Side of Madness' (1971) returns nearly 50 years after its initial release!
An avant-garde retelling of the infamous Manson Murders, 'The Other Side of Madness' brings audiences closer to the events than most filmmakers have dared to go, with real life footage of Spahn Ranch and music performed by Charles Manson.
Directed by Frank Howard and produced by Wade Williams, this hypnotic film served as one of the first Helter Skelter recreations, filmed so close to the time of the events that Manson and his followers had yet to be sentenced for the vicious crimes.
Blu-ray Verdict: Known, since birth, as 'Frank Howard's Helter Skelter Murders,' the renamed 'The Other Side of Madness' (out now as a magnificent 4K Transfer From Original Camera Negative) is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most fascinating watches I have sat down to review for the longest time (having never originally seen it back in 1971, or thereafter).
Supposedly the very first picture to capitalize on the Manson Family Murders, the fact it was being filmed whilst their infamous trial was still going on makes knowing what happened thereafter even more of a visual delicacy.
Not something, in my book, having now viewed it twice, to be labelled as a "exploitation film," it doesn't feature any real blood and gore, per say, and the only sexual moments are when the hippies are doing their own thing, shall we say, given that it was the late '60s, after all.
Thus, 'The Other Side of Madness' takes its time getting to the core of the film, which is no bad thing, as I actually liked the way it steadily built on the facts and what (supposedly) made certain members do certain things and such.
Ergo, the Director, the aforementioned Frank Howard, takes his paced time in showing the life of the Manson Family, one growing, budding moment at a time. With none of them having so much as their own personal identity it was hard, as a viewer to latch onto any of them, or even care what happens to them, in truth.
Furthermore, the ones attributed to the killings are not even given names here, not even titled, nor labelled for the film, which means these "real life" killers truly come across as characters fliting back and forth across our screen, none of which hold any devoted stares or concern from us (which, I'm sure, was always the Director's intention).
The same goes for the nameless victims, but I would hazard a guess as that being more to do with Howard playing respect to the fallen, as opposed to wishing they too blend into the white noise that was their portrayed killers here.
Shot in black and white, the ambiance of that cinematographic choice is a first class visual choice and really eerily captures the mood of what must have been a most horridly dark, foreboding grey and harshly-lit night (in essence and weather) in real life for all concerned.
Lurching from shadow to shadow, Howard showcases his brilliance in both directing and cinematography angles and shots, especially those shot during the home invasion sequence. For buried within each moment, each shot, each still, these shadowy effects bring forth pockets of darkly depressing event, and highly menacing snap shots.
Featuring Brian Klinknett as the lead "killer," he delivers his lines as if he himself were truly crazy, his portrayal of a sneering and terrifying psychopath one for the ages. Indeed, when his character says "I am the Devil, coming to do the Devil's work", you genuinely believe what he is saying and had you been facing him, terrified at that time, you would have also known your time was up!
In closing, lest we forget the dynamic backbone of this film, the wondrous accompanying music that ebbs and flows throughout. Created by the brilliant, and uber-talented Sean Bonniwell, the tracks actually came from his very own band, The Music Machine and contain layers of excellently orchestrated psychedelic blues, infused proto-punk. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1:37.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
A New Documentary: 'The Other Side of Manson: An Interview with Producer Wade Williams'
Original Trailers from both Theatrical Releases
Musical CD with songs written and performed by Charles Manson!
'The Other Side of Madness' is available as part of a special-edition anniversary collector’s set with Bonus CD on Blu-ray ($29.95) and DVD ($21.95); or as a standard release, without Bonus CD, on Blu-ray ($24.99) and DVD ($19.99).
With only 1,500 Blu-ray copies and 2,000 Bonus CDs available, reserve a copy now BY CLICKING HERE!