After a moody, dialog-free opening (a trend that will continue for much of the film’s runtime) that shows the Manson family planning the Tate-LaBianca Murders as ol’ Charlie observes, we shift our focus to some wild-ass hippie hootenanny taking place on the outskirts of the Spahn Ranch interspersed with scenes of the Family in court on trial for their murder biz!
As the story unfolds we are introduced to the doomed starlet Sharon Tate (Debbie Duff), and before long we are balls-deep into the events of the night of August 9th and10th in all of their disturbing detail… all of which is presented in a fashion akin to a documentary, which makes the horror all the more impactful.
Does this all sound a bit disjointed? Well it certainly is… but The Other Side of Madness has a shit-ton of energy and some truly arty-farty touches that makes the entire affair as hallucinogenic and fever-dream addled as the times would dictate!
Director Frank Howard (who also lensed and edited the picture) does a fantastic balancing act of chiaroscuro Film Noir imagery (the film is entirely in black and white except for one vivid color sequence featuring Duff’s Tate) contrasted with courtroom melodrama, wild, nudity-laden hippy goings-on, and straight up exploitation goodness (hell, this film was made while the court case was actually still on-going)! There’s even an anti-drug disclaimer thrown in for good measure, just in case you wanted some sort of redeeming social value with your tale of crazed psychos on the rampage…
Adding to the ambience is the fantastic soundtrack courtesy of Thomas Sean Bonniwell along with the use of one of Manson’s tunes, Mechanical Man… so yeah; the crazy extends to your eerie earholes with this one as well.
As trippy as the feature presentation is, the Film Detective have included a few bonus features on this Blu-ray release including: an audio interview with producer Wade Williams, as well as a chat on how he was able to use Manson’s music in the film, and two trailers for the film.
Also included are a booklet containing an essay on the film written by Alexander Tuschinski, as well as a bonus CD that containing both Mechanical Man and another Manson ditty, Garbage Dump.
The Other Side Of Madness is a great piece of true crime psychotronic cinema and holds plenty to offer for those that think they’ve seen everything when it comes to Manson!