Based on the bestselling book by Vincent Bugliosi, the TV movie Helter Skelter is a clinical but often chilling recount of the arrest and trial of Charles Manson and his cult for a pair of horrific murders in 1969. Character actor George DiCenzo is a bit dry as prosecutor Bugliosi, who must patch together a series of far-flung clues to incarcerate Manson for the murder spree, which claimed the life of actress Sharon Tate, among others; he and the rest of the capable cast (which includes Marilyn Burns from the ‘74 Texas Chainsaw Massacre) are completely overshadowed by Steve Railsback’s disturbing performance as Manson. Railsback is the main reason to revisit this feature, which shocked many during its network run in 1976, but now seems methodical in its pacing and direction. —amazon
Thomas S. “Tom” Gries (20 December 1922; Chicago, Illinois – 3 January 1977; Pacific Palisades, California) was an American TV and film director, writer and producer.
Educated at the Loyola Academy and Georgetown University, Gries began working in TV in the 1950s as a writer and director, on such programmes as Bronco, The Rat Patrol, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Westerner, The Rifleman, East Side/West Side, Mission: Impossible, Route 66, Batman and I Spy. He won Emmy Awards for his direction on East Side/West Side in 1964 and The Glass House in 1972.
In the cinema, Gries directed some low-budget movies in the 1950s before concentrating his efforts more on TV. In the late 1960s, he wrote and directed what is generally acknowledged to be his greatest work in either medium, the western Will Penny, which starred Charlton Heston and was released in 1968. It was based on an episode of the TV series The Westerner that Gries wrote and directed in 1960, entitled “Line Camp”. Gries… read more