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Films >> Helter Skelter (1976) >>

0:00:40 Screaming Maid Discovers Bodies
A car approaches the Tate residence, and the maid kisses her husband goodbye and gets out. As she approaches the gate, the maid notices that the telephone wire above the gate has been cut. Appearing worried, the maid passes an intercom, blood on it, and hurries into the house. Seconds later, she runs out screaming, "Murder, murder!" while the Beatles song "Helter Skelter" plays in the background.
0:01:48 Polanski's Business Manager Identifies Bodies
A police car pulls up to the Tate residence, and a police officer immediately asks the maid to identify the bodies. Sobbing uncontrollably, the maid refuses. The police lead handcuffed suspect William Garretson away. Sgt. Smith asks Roman Polanski's business manager to identify the bodies, leading him from one mangled corpse to the next. The business manager cannot identify the first victim, a young man in a car, but he can identify the bodies of Vochek Vrakowsky, Abigail Folger, Jay Siebring, and Sharon Tate. Meanwhile, a police officer removes blood samples from the word PIG scrawled on the front door. After he has viewed all the bodies, the business manager runs outside to vomit.
0:07:25 William Garretson Given Lie Detector Test
While given a lie detector test, William Garretson says he did not cause the deaths at the Tate residence. Seeing that Garretson is nervous, the police officer administering the test asks Garretson why he is so uneasy. Garretson says he feels guilty and confused because he does not know why he was not murdered that night.
0:09:02 LaBianca Children Discover Parents' Bodies
August 10, 1969. A car pulls up outside the LaBianca home. The LaBianca children approach their parents' house, while the youngest son explains that he thinks something is gravely wrong since his parents' shades are down and because they did not answer the door when he knocked. Once they are inside, the two boys agree to search the house while their sister waits in the kitchen. Entering the living room, the boys discover their father's body as the girl turns around to see "Helter Skelter" written in blood on the refrigerator.
0:10:22 William Garrison Released From Custody
August 12, 1969. Three days after the Tate murder and two days after the LaBianca murder, William Garretson is released due to lack of evidence. Two investigators discuss the gun used in the Tate murders, deducing that the gun has a unique grip.
0:11:22 Police Raid Spahn Ranch
August 16, 1969. One week after the killings, deputies from the LAPD raid Spahn Ranch after receiving repeated complaints of an auto theft ring. The police haul screaming, half naked hippies from filthy rooms at the ranch. A voiceover identifies the important members of the family. As the police haul Manson out of a dirty hole, Manson struggles and shouts maniacally as the police handcuff him. A voiceover outlines Manson's unhappy childhood of broken homes and juvenile detention centers.
0:16:16 The Manson Family Has Sing-Along on Bus to Jail
On their way to jail, Manson leads his family in a sing-along. A voiceover further explains Manson's history, explaining that he has been married twice and fathered several children. His criminal record includes burglary, armed robbery, grand theft auto, and homosexual rape.
0:17:25 Steven Quint Finds Manson's Gun in Back Yard
Young Steven Quint discovers Manson's gun while helping his father tidy up the back yard. Mr. Quint then hands the gun over to the police. The police officer tells Mr. Quint that he suspects the gun has been used to hammer something because the gun's grip is damaged. The gun is then placed in a lock box at LAPD headquarters.
0:18:39 Manson Family Released From Prison
The Manson Family is released from prison due to insufficient evidence. Overjoyed with the news, the family members scream wildly, while Manson glares eerily at two detectives who are observing the zoo-like atmosphere.
0:19:05 Quint Family Learns About Tate Murders
The Quint family watches the news and hears about the Tate Murders. The family realizes that the gun Steven found may have been used in the murder, which took place only a few miles from the Quints' house. Pieces of a gun grip were found at the murder scene, while the grip on the gun Steven found was broken.
0:19:52 Manson Girls Say Charlie Trying to Kill Them
October 12, 1969. Two girls from the Manson family, one of them pregnant, run feverishly through the desert. They flag down a squad car, telling the police that someone is trying to kill them. When the police officers question them, the girls say that Manson is going to kill them because they know that some of the family members killed Gary Hinman. Apparently, the family left Spahn Ranch for Barker Ranch in Death Valley a while ago. What the girls do not know is much of the family was arrested two days earlier for destroying an earth-moving machine. The girls claim that family member Bobby Boselet did not kill Hinman on his own, but that Susan Atkins helped kill him.
0:21:55 Susan Atkins Arrested
Two months after the Tate and LaBianca murders, Susan Atkins is arrested for the Hinman murder. In jail, Susan struts around while two lesbians leer at her. She seems to welcome the attention, for when one of the women ask her her name, she replies, "Sadie. Sexy Sadie."
0:23:02 Burgliosi Assigned to Tate Murder Case
Vincent Bugliosi is told that he has been assigned as prosecutor to the Tate murder case. His partners say they are confident he will do an excellent job because he has only lost one case in his career.
0:24:28 Bugliosi Interviews Danny DeCarlo
Interviewing family member Danny DeCarlo, Bugliosi finds out that Manson ordered Hinman killed. Danny admits that he is afraid of Manson because Manson has killed "snitches" on several occasions. Danny helps Bugliosi identify several members of the family and agrees to guide Bugliosi around Spahn Ranch, provided that Bugliosi handcuff him so that the family members who still live at the ranch will not suspect he is helping Bugliosi.
0:27:42 Susan Atkins Confesses Tate Murder to Lesbian
Susan Atkins gushes to Ronnie Howard, one of the lesbians in jail, about how wonderful Manson is. She tells Ronnie that Manson is Jesus Christ, while Ronnie becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Susan then brags without remorse that she killed Sharon Tate.
0:31:02 Danny Gives Bugliosi Tour of Spahn Ranch
Danny guides Bugliosi around Spahn Ranch. Bugliosi asks Danny about Manson's gun, which Danny says was a .22 Buntline, the same type of gun used in the Tate killings. The gun disappeared after the murders, Danny says. Danny is visibly afraid to discuss Manson because several members of the family eavesdrop on the conversation.
0:33:09 Susan Describes Tate Murders to Ronnie
Susan describes the Tate murders in gory detail to Ronnie. She says Tate was pregnant and begged for her unborn child's life. Susan claims it felt good to kill Sharon by stabbing the actress repeatedly. She could kill Tate, she says, because she loved her. Susan also admits to killing the LaBiancas, as well as several other people. She says she plans to kill more people in the future.
0:35:48 Ronnie Alerts Police
Ronnie calls the police to inform them that she knows who killed Tate and the LaBiancas.
0:37:20 Manson Arraigned for Destroying Machine
November 21, 1969. Manson is arraigned for destroying the earth-moving machine. Bugliosi asks the judge to set the bail as high as possible so that Manson will remain in jail until Bugliosi is ready with the Tate case. At the courthouse, Bugliosi sees Manson on the stairs, and Manson gives him a death stare.
0:38:18 Manson Girls Moved to Los Angeles
The Manson girls are transferred from a jail in Independence, CA to a women's house of detention in Los Angeles for questioning. As they are loaded into a truck, the girls taunt some police officers, calling them pigs and snorting at them.
0:38:41 Leslie Van Houten Leaks Information
November 25, 1969. Sgt. O'Neill interviews family member Leslie Van Houten, who at first refuses to discuss Manson or the family. She says that although Manson is in jail, the family will eventually get back together. She claims Manson was not involved in the Tate or LaBianca murders, but she admits that four people from the family are the murderers.
0:41:08 LAPD Issues Warrants for Family Members
The LAPD issues warrants for Manson, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Linda Kasabian based on the information leaked by Van Houten and other family members.
0:41:50 Bugliosi Considers Offering Susan Deal
Bugliosi and his partners discuss how they will offer Susan Atkins a deal if she agrees to testify against Manson. They say that if she does this, she will not get the death penalty. They also discuss how Krenwinkel's fingerprint was found on Tate's bedroom door. Bugliosi says what he really needs is the .22 Buntline to connect Manson to the murders.
0:43:03 Susan Talks About Murders
At a court hearing, Susan talks about how she met Manson and joined the family. She admits that the family stole, participated in orgies, and used drugs. Susan admits that, on the night of the Tate murders, Manson approached her and told her to do as Tex told her to do. Tex drove her and two other girls to the Tate residence and told the girls to kill everyone there and take their money, Susan says. Susan describes the Tate and LaBianca murders in gory detail. She says Manson accompanied them to the LaBianca house but did not kill anyone.
0:49:19 Susan's Story in Newspaper
Susan Atkins's story appears in the newspaper. A man in a robe picks up the paper from his front lawn and looks at the story.
0:49:33 Prison Guard Provokes Manson
A prison guard tells Manson that everyone now knows that he ordered the murders. He says that Manson will get the death penalty, which he deserves. Manson responds by unflinchingly staring at the guard, who appears uneasy.
0:50:24 Los Angeles Grand Jury Hands Down Indictments
The Los Angeles County Grand Jury hands down the following indictments: Leslie Van Houten--two counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder; Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian, Tex, and Manson--seven counts of murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
0:51:19 Manson Brought to Court
Two guards haul in a struggling Manson. Bugliosi's watch oddly stops and, when he looks up at Manson, Manson cackles maniacally.
0:52:33 Quint Calls LAPD
Mr. Quint calls the LAPD to tell them that he believes that the gun Steven found was used in the Tate murders. The LAPD tells Quint that they might have disposed of the gun.
0:54:17 Police Test Gun
Having found the gun, the police test it and compare one of its bullets to the bullet found in Jay Siebring's body. They conclude that the gun, a .22 Buntline, was used in the murders. Bugliosi says he is angry that the gun was not linked to the murders long ago.
0:55:22 Manson Insists on Representing Himself
Manson tells the judge that he wants to represent himself. The judge objects, but grants him permission to serve as his own lawyer.
0:56:18 Bugliosi Considers Offering Linda Kasabian Deal
Bugliosi discusses offering Linda Kasabian a deal with his partner, but then realizes that he is legally bound to Susan and, therefore, cannot work with Linda. The two men talk about how Manson's motive is the missing link in the case. They also speculate on Manson's theory of Helter Skelter and discuss how it would be difficult to convince a jury that Manson had wanted to start a war against black militants.
0:59:19 Manson Family Lobbies to Free Charlie
Manson family members chant "Free Charlie!" outside the courthouse as Bugliosi and another lawyer walk by.
1:00:06 Bugliosi Discovers Manson's Motive
Bugliosi interviews Paul Watkins, Manson's former "right hand man." Manson organized sex orgies and dominated everyone in the family using fear, Paul says. Paul claims he became a part of the family because he believed Manson was Jesus Christ. Paul explains that Manson believed the Beatles were speaking to him through their music, telling him to start a race war against black people. Bugliosi realizes that Manson's motive was to kill white people in order to spur the war.
1:08:33 Bugliosi Talks to Partner about Motive
Bugliosi discusses Manson's motive with his partner. His partner gets a call telling him that Susan refuses to testify. Bugliosi then decides to offer Linda Kasabian a deal.
1:09:51 Linda Kasabian Accepts Deal
February 26, 1970. Linda Kasabian agrees to testify against Manson. She says she would have testified without the deal because she is sick of constantly thinking about the horrible murders.
1:10:30 Linda Has Baby
Linda gives birth to a baby boy. She holds him in her hospital bed.
1:10:38 Paul Watkins Suffers Burns
Paul Watkins, one of Bugliosi's key witnesses, is pulled from a burning camper with second-degree burns covering 25 percent of his body. The fire is of undetermined origin.
1:10:50 Judge Disqualifies Himself
The judge assigned to Manson's case disqualifies himself due to pressure from Manson. A new judge is chosen, yet Manson continues to insist on representing himself.
1:11:48 Manson Carves Swastika in Forehead
Manson, Atkins, Van Houten, Krenwinkel, and Tex arrive for their first day in court with newly carved swastikas in their foreheads. Manson behaves like a lunatic, while the girls giggle. Bugliosi makes his opening statement.
1:16:00 Linda Kasabian Testifies
Linda Kasabian explains to the court how she came to live with the family, how Manson dominated everyone in the family, and how Manson would go on and on about his Helter Skelter philosophy.
1:23:30 Linda's Flashback to Murders
Linda has a flashback to right before the Tate murders, when Manson told them to leave a "witchy" sign at the murder scene.
1:28:39 Linda Continues Testimony
Linda talks about the LaBianca murders. She says Manson went along this time, driving them to the house and binding the LaBiancas' hands. She says he did not kill the LaBiancas, however.
1:31:40 Defense Cross-Examines Linda
As the defense cross-examines Linda, Manson holds up a copy of a newspaper, the headline of which reads, "Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares." The jurors claim they did not see the headline and, therefore, the defense cannot claim a mistrial. Linda testifies that she is controlled by Manson's "vibrations." Manson again asks the judge if he may represent himself and, when the judge denies the request, Manson lunges at him. Manson is removed from the courtroom and the prosecution rests.
1:37:28 Defense Surprisingly Rests Without Calling Witnesses
The defense tells the judge it rests without calling any witnesses. The Manson girls shout that they want to testify that they had planned and committed the murders and that Manson had not been involved. The defense lawyers object, but the judge says they have a right to testify.
1:38:38 Manson Makes Statement
The judge allows Manson to make a statement under oath, provided that the jury is not present. Manson talks about his horrible life and says that the establishment causes children to kill. The Manson girls stand up and praise him and Manson says that the girls do not need to testify.
1:43:23 Manson and Girls Kicked Out of Court
Bugliosi enters pictures of the Tate Murder scene into evidence. Manson and the girls cause a scene, yelling that Bugliosi is the true murderer. The judge permanently dismisses the defendants. Bugliosi makes his closing statement.
1:48:47 Jury Gives Verdict
The jury gives a guilty verdict for Manson, Van Houten, Atkins, and Krenwinkel.
1:50:44 Penalty Trial
A penalty trial is held to determine the defendants' punishment. Manson and the girls show up to the trial with their heads shaved. They all receive the death penalty.
1:52:02 Manson Family Outside Courthouse
The Manson family, each member sporting a shaved head, learns of the guilty verdict. One girl warns that now everyone is going to die.
1:52:09 Manson Approaches Bugliosi
As Bugliosi gathers his things, Manson asks to speak with him. Manson said he has nothing against Bugliosi and that he's happy to be going back to prison, which is "home" for him. Bugliosi points out that Manson has received the death penalty and will not be in prison for long. Manson says that he is already dead.
1:54:37 California Abolishes Death Penalty
California abolishes the death penalty, so Manson and the girls now face life in prison. The final shots are of the murderers behind bars, while a voiceover explains that each is up for parole in a short time.