• Manson's Lost Girls

    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: May 10, 2016
    Director: Leslie Libman
    Cast: Mackenzie Mauzy, Eden Brolin, Jeff Ward, Grace Victoria Cox
    Year: 2016
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    The Movie:

    It’s the late 1960s and young Linda Kasabian (Mackenzie Mauzy) feels lost in the world. No longer finding acceptance with her own family, Linda sets off for California in order to find connection with humanity. Once on the west coast, she finds a boyfriend and soon has a baby. While things seem to be going well for Linda it is all a façade. Her boyfriend splits with her money in order to score drugs leaving Linda and the baby penniless and alone. The duo seem to be the verge of disaster but a chance meeting with Susan Atkins (Eden Brolin) appears to be a saving grace. Susan takes Linda to the ranch where she lives in order to introduce Linda to her friend and spiritual leader, Charles Manson (Jeff Ward).

    Even though I would never claim to be an expert, I have always been fascinated with the Manson case. The time period and sordid details of the crime interest me greatly, as does the fact Manson, like me, is a Cincinnati native. It was something I could mention, much like James Brown recorded in the ‘Nati, which made my hometown seem more interesting. My interest in the case made me excited to watch the Lifetime original movie Manson’s Lost Girls. I wondered how something like this could be told in a sanitized, made-for-TV fashion. Of course, the most famous film based on the case was a TV movie, Helter Skelter, but I found the Lifetime angle perplexing.

    Sight unseen I assumed the actor portraying Manson would be attractive and his craziness would be downplayed. In a way I was right. Jeff Ward is without a doubt a good look man. He’s way too good looking to play Manson. Ward has striking eyes, great hair and washboard abs. In short, he’s hunk. In fact, everyone is really good looking. All the actors look like American Apparel models. The film loses realism not only because of the prettiness of the actors but also due to the cleanliness. The actors, clothes and settings are just too clean. None of the characters truly look like dirty cult members from the 1960s, instead Manson, Bobby Beausoleil and Tex look like the hottest guys on a 2016 college campus.

    Aside from the look of the actors, Manson’s Lost Girls also suffers in storytelling. The first half of the film is told entirely from Linda’s perspective. We see how events in her life brought her to the ranch and how she fits in with the other women. We get a sense of community and it helps us understand why Linda falls into the group. Somewhere around the halfway point the film begins to focus more on Manson and it loses steam. While I understood why Linda would enjoy the community the women created amongst each other I could not understand what she saw in Manson. The film never gave a good reason why anyone would be attracted to Manson other than Ward has nice eyes and a six pack. He seemed more like a jerk than crazy. A highlight was Manson giving Beausoleil a hard time for eating too many peas.

    In spite of these issues, Manson’s Lost Girls had some bright spots. The Tate-Labianca attack was staged pretty well and was effective in a PG-13 sort of way. In addition, the Creepy Crawling scene, while not a strong as the one in Jim Van Bebber’s The Manson Family, was nicely done. The first half of the film also featured a pretty great soundtrack with music by the Seeds, Donovan, The Turtles and Kim Fowley. Unfortunately, the catalog pop songs come to a halt in the first half. It felt as if they blew the allocated music budget on the film’s first 45 minutes.

    Manson’s Lost Girls is not terrible but pretty worthless. There are much better films covering the exact same territory to watch instead of this one. A primary issue with the film is the cast. Everyone is just too pretty and a story like this is anything but pretty.


    Lionsgate brings Manson’s Lost Girls to DVD sports a workman like 1.78:1 image. Unsurprisingly, given its age and budget, the film looks fine but it is still disappointing. The film tries to look gritty by deemphasizing the colors thus giving Manson’s Lost Girls a dull, lifeless image and washed out colors.

    The disc sports a nice 5.1 Dolby Digital track. The sound is quite good, it is mixed well with the music never overpowering the dialogue. The disc also features English SDH subtitles.

    The disc does not feature any special features. This is kind of surprising as I would have thought EPK material would have been created for promotional purposes. Oh well.

    The Final World:

    I cannot recommend Manson’s Lost Girls. It is a completely average movie telling a story that has been told numerous times. While some scenes are pretty good, the film lacks the intensity and verve a story like this deserves.