Six Degrees of Murder

This weirded me out a bit, in a number of ways. I have this flaking paperback called The Secret Life of a Satanist, The authorised biography of Anton Lavey, by Blanche Barton. It is by no means terrific. But it’s an interesting thing to have.

First, this creepy photograph.

Bob and Anton

Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, enjoys a drink with Robert Fuest, director of his favourite film, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES. You will notice that despite styling himself like a Hollywood baddie, with the full “upside-down head” look, old Anton is much less frightening than Fuest, who looks a bit like Hugh Griffith in TOM JONES, i.e. a ruddy-faced maniac. Recent pics of Fuest are much easier on the mind — that kind of appearance is less alarming in an older gent.

The Abominable Mr Fuest

Fuest’s films consitute a unique and remarkable body of work — unlike practically every other British horror film director, Fuest utilised the conventions of the genre to create exercises in pure style, like Bava or Argento in Italy. Never very interested in making points, or even in narrative, Fuest’s films are strings of glorious set-pieces, beautifully designed and stuffed to the gills with scintillating walk-ons.

Back to this book: a page or two later, I was startled by this image:

pre-atkins

Well, not the image, as such. They’re called breasts, and all ladies have them. No, it was the text beneath that flipped what’s left of my lid. I’ve read and heard quite a bit about the Manson murders, but never knew that much about the various “family members”. I had heard the story that LaVey was a technical advisor on ROSEMARY’S BABY and played the role of devil in it. So I was be-goggled to find this other connection between LaVey and Polanski. But of course, as Wikipedia tells me, LaVey was notinvolved in ROSEMARY’S BABY at all, so the story that he was probably came out of media speculation/invention from the time of the Manson trial. LaVey was happy to hype himself up at all times, but appears never to have claimed any role in the production.

Manson

The Manson killings do have a weird network of movie connections, though. Victim Sharon Tate was a movie star and wife of Polanski, of course, and appeared in J. Lee Thompson’s EYE OF THE DEVIL, a somewhat jinxed production, as well as Polanski’s THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS. The first victim of the Mansonites was the Polanski family dog, Dr. Sapperstein, named after Ralph Bellamy’s character in ROSEMARY’S BABY, a satanic gynecologist.

One of Atkins’ fellow killers, Bobby Beausoleil, had appeared in a Kenneth Anger film (Anger was chums with LaVey) and subsequently provided a score for Anger’s LUCIFER RISING — the only movie soundtrack ever recorded inside prison. The soundtrack followed an unsuccessful attempt by Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page to provide Anger with a satisfactory score. Intriguingly, an earlier version of the film which STARRED Beausoleil was abandoned after Anger quarrelled with the future killer (always a risky thing to do) and much of the footage was supposedly taken by Beasoleil and buried at one of the Manson’s H.Q.s. One of those hideaways was in fact a ranch containing an old movie backlot complete with fake western town. The ranch was once owned by cowboy star William S. Hart.

Combine all this with LaVey’s connection to Jayne Mansfield, rumours tying Manson to the Monkees, Dennis Wilson, and his obsession with Beatles lyrics, and the Manson affair seems like one of the most filmic murder cases ever. And Manson did show some cinematic acumen by knowing exactly who should play him in the movie of his life:

Hopper

Dennis Hopper.

8 Responses to “Six Degrees of Murder”

  1. But of course. Especially now that he’s become a right-wing Republican.

  2. That’s been the case for decades now. Alex Cox was so outraged by the discovery he tore up Hopper’s Republican Party membership card. Touched by the gesture, Hopper let him keep the torn card.

  3. This reminds me of one of the few ideas for a script that ever occurred to me — and, yes, speaking as someone who has read a lot of scripts, I realize that “ideas for” scripts and actual scripts are two separate things entirely.

    My idea: tell the story, set in the late ’60s, of people filming Z-budget action pictures — people not unlike Al Adamson and his retinue — in a movie ranch at the same time as Charles Manson and his tribe were visible in such territories. It would be sort-of like Zieff’s “Hearts of the West,” only set in the era of Jim Morrison and (early) Joan Didion.

    All of this would be a way of picking up a little *zetgeist* without indulging in the same ol’ “Helter Skelter” imagery.

    I mentioned this to a writer/director friend of mine. He was singularly unimpressed.

  4. Well as the cops are planning to dig for more human remains at the Spahn ranch you’re script may be timely all over again.

  5. As soon as you say filmmakers & serial killers the natural impulse is to have the filmmakers killed off and hunted through the desert in a sort of Blair Witch hippy slasher movie. I bet THAT could get made.

    “In 1969 some film students went into the desert to make a Roger Corman exploitation film. Forty years later their footage was found.”

    It might also be the only way for Joe Dante to get his “Making of The Trip” film made.

  6. As soon as you say filmmakers & serial killers the natural impulse is to have the filmmakers killed off and hunted through the desert in a sort of Blair Witch hippy slasher movie. I bet THAT could get made.

    “In 1969 some film students went into the desert to make a Roger Corman exploitation film. Forty years later their footage was found.”

    It might also be the only way for Joe Dante to get his “Making of The Trip” film made.

  7. I have seen at the degree 100 and 33 level people killed and driven to kill even kids such a little jb ramsey through the summoning of Helel the Holy angel lucifer as crowley wrote the shit,,,,,,was any documentation done noting the 33 and 100 masonic minutes of sharon tate……by holy and his baphomet…this clearly was the work of them as reported to me through templars….the child of sharons would be an extremely powerful energy source and regenerative power for the demons in the area…..clearly some where along the way sharon tate agreed with satan on some topic or another that allowed these powers to cut her ass open…..such as a black magic reverse effect cataclysim…..

  8. No offense is intended, but I get the strong impression that you’re off your medication and need to discuss these ideas with your doctor. Best wishes.

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