ByJancy Richardson, writer at
To avoid fainting, keep repeating 'It's only a movie...It's only a movie...'
Jancy Richardson

The very worst of people can make an impact on society and culture as much as the very best can. It's easier to get famous by doing something bad: how many of us have the genius to create a life-saving invention or the tenacity to lead a troubled nation to peace and prosperity? Anyone can kill, but some killers gain more notoriety than others, and 82-year-old killer cult leader Charles Manson is more infamous than them all.

Currently imprisoned for his crimes (and, according to the LA Times, seriously ill) few deadly criminals have lived long enough to see so many movies about their own terrible acts come to fruition.

Biopics & Documentaries

'Helter Skelter'  [Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution]
'Helter Skelter' [Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution]

Helter Skelter (1976)

Manson Actor: Steve Railsback

The Manson family classic, this straight-to-TV project is widely regarded as the definitive screen treatment of the story. Largely based on Vincent Bugliosi's 1974 true crime book, Helter Skelter is respected by Manson aficionados the world over. Clea DuVall starred as Linda Kasabian in a three-hour television reboot of the project in 2004.

Check out the trailer for the iconic Manson biopic, Helter Skelter.

See also:

Summer Dreams: The Story of the Beach Boys (1990)

Manson actor: Michael Reid MacKay

Manson features in one of the strangest rock 'n' roll stories ever told, focusing heavily on the substance abuse within the band and the personal struggles of Brian and Dennis Wilson. MacKay went on to a number of other scary roles, including Insidious 3's The Man Who Can't Breathe and Seven's Sloth victim.

'Aquarius' [Credit: ABC]
'Aquarius' [Credit: ABC]

Aquarius (2015)

Manson actor: Gethin Anthony

Game of Thrones's Renly Baratheon (Manson) stars opposite David Duchovny (Det. Sam Hodiak) in this slick crime drama. On the trail of a missing girl, Hodiak's investigation leads him to Manson's ''family,'' and finds himself caught up in a real life hippy horror show...

The Manson Family (2003)

Jim Van Bebber helms this brutal docu-drama about Manson's Spahn ranch with quasi-experimental leanings soundtracked by Pantera's Phil Anselmo as the voice of the Devil. It's an interesting, intelligently-made project that mixes graphic violence with an artsy vibe.

Comedy Takes on Manson... Or Just Plain Weird

'Live Freaky! Die Freaky!' [Credit: Hellcat Films]
'Live Freaky! Die Freaky!' [Credit: Hellcat Films]

Live Freaky! Die Freaky! (2006)

Manson actor: Billie Joe Armstrong (voice credit)

A punk rock musical entirely in stop-motion claymation... featuring Charles Manson. It's as odd as it sounds, with Rancid's Tim Armstrong narrating a deranged tale about a nomad who hails Charles Manson as the Messiah (well, Charles 'Hanson': all the characters have names very slightly altered). Blink-182's Travis Barker, Asia Argento and Kelly Osbourne also pop up.

South Park (1998)

Manson actor: Trey Parker (voice credit)

South Park will take a pop at anything, and even the Helter Skelter killer receives a little yuletide cheer in 'Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson!' The usual dark humor brings out the best in the satirical set-up, and Charlie and the sweary kids have themselves a time.

Manson on 'South Park' [Credit: Comedy Central]
Manson on 'South Park' [Credit: Comedy Central]

Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver (2011)

Manson actor: Booby Bromley

Batshit bonkers in every way, murderous biscuit The Gingerdead Man time travels to 1976 and enjoys a delicious disco rampage, only to be stopped by Hitler, Lizze Borden, Dahmer and, yes, Charles Manson. Other comedic takes on Manson include pop-up appearances in Dahmer vs Gacy, The Ben Stiller Show and Psycho Sleepover.

Other Manson-themed or inspired movies include (but are not limited to):

  • Manson Family Vacation (2015)
  • Manson's Lost Girls (2016)
  • Haunting Charles Manson (2014)
  • House of Manson (2014)
  • Manson, My Name Is Evil (2009)
  • Life After Manson (2014)
  • Charles Manson Superstar (1989)


Is Charles Manson the most infamous criminal in American history?


Latest from our Creators