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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Charles Manson Superstar
Charles Manson Superstar
Music Video Distributors // Unrated // September 17, 2002
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted October 6, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
The cult of Charles Manson is something of a mystery to those of us who are, I don't know, sane. Nikolas Schreck's strange little doco Charles Mason Superstar looks to put a happy face on the lecherous murderer whose ability to twist impressionable minds amassed him a clan of groupies eager to kill. The thing that makes Schreck' s documentary unique is also the thing that sinks it. Schreck has a little extra sympathy for Manson and perhaps it's his less-than-critical approach that got him the lengthy interview with the jailed killer on which he built his film. Long sequences feature the disheveled psycho expounding on all manner of antiestablishment rhetoric, sometimes in an interestingly animated way but more often in the yammering blabbering style of a man who's had nothing but his own self-serving thoughts to keep him company all these years.

So pervasive are these interview clips that everything else feels like an aside. Schreck, for instance, might start to explore the mind of Manson devotee Squeaky Fromme, but he quickly cuts back to Manson himself for wordy, circular observations that reveal nothing. His world-view is no more advanced than a high school philosophy student just discovering the dark side and his jittery style is more junkie than messiah.

Schreck's mistake was in allowing Manson's monologues to fill up so much of the film. If this was his intention then he just should have released the unedited interview as it was shot and called it a day. Instead, he dressed it up as a documentary. Schreck's stilted, tone-deaf narration coupled with the low-grade stock footage and My-First-Computer video effects help make the piece nearly unwatchable, but it's the endless blabbering of the main subject that ultimately spells its fate. If there has ever been a pseudo-celebrity who doesn't need to tell his own story it's the insane, rambling Manson.

VIDEO:
The video displays a crunchy overly-compressed quality along with the terrible condition of most of the source material. The image is full-frame.

AUDIO:
The PCM audio track is murky and hard to understand at times. Manson's interview, however, is pretty clear. No subtitles are included.

EXTRAS:
None.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
A muddled and confusing film, Charles Manson Superstar accomplishes nothing other than to display what an unbalanced mess the subject is. Definitely not the place to start in learning about the killer. For Manson junkies only.

Email Gil Jawetz at cinemagotham@yahoo.com

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