Helter Skelter: Director Lesley Chilcott opens up on ‘demystifying’ the Manson legacy

Helter Skelter: An American Myth teased in Epix trailer

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Last year’s extensive true crime documentary Helter Skelter: An American Myth compiled never-before-seen footage and exclusive interviews to delve into the lives of Charles Manson and his cult of followers. Director Lesley Chilcott recently opened up about bringing the disturbing story to Epix.

Lesley Chilcott hopes audiences walked away with a much clearer understanding of the Manson Family after tuning into her documentary last year.

Cult leader Charles Manson was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1972 for the murder of actress Sharon Tate and six other victims.

The crime was recently brought back into public attention by Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist history film, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.

However, Chilcott recently opened up to Deadline about conveying a more truthful version of events in her recent documentary, Helter Skelter.

The limited series delved more into Manson’s status as a cult leader as well as claims that the murders were orchestrated in order to pre-empt an imminent race war in the latter half of the 20th Century.

Despite common beliefs, the director maintains that Charles Manson wasn’t the so-called evil genius that so many thought him to be.

She told Deadline: “Why it’s called Helter Skelter: An American Myth isn’t because the murders are a myth.

“But there are all sorts of myths that surround Charles Manson, mainly that he was this mastermind, Svengali-type criminal that took deliberate steps to bring about a race war.”

The series takes its name from the cult’s core belief system, ‘Helter Skelter’ which, in turn, was lifted from one of The Beatles’ hit tracks from The White Album.

Manson claimed that Black Americans would eventually rise up and kill the white population, but would need him and his followers to lead them.

He therefore began attracting followers and orchestrated a series of crimes that he hoped would appear racially motivated, thus inciting the imminent war.

Dubbing the plan ‘Helter Skelter’, the Manson Family were responsible for seven murders in Los Angeles.

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They also carried out numerous assaults, thefts and even the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford in Sacramento.

While popular media has often depicted Manson as a suave and persuasive mastermind, Chilcott explained this perception was completely unfounded.

She continued: “The reality is he was a bumbling conman who went from desperate act to desperate act.

“[He] had nothing planned out, and I wanted to demystify that in a way.”

Chilcott’s documentary also brought attention to Manson’s talents as a songwriter, which contributed to his success in wooing both female and male followers to his cult.

With true crime still as popular as ever, Helter Skelter has already opened US audiences’ eyes to the realities of the Manson murders after premiering on Epix last year.

Sadly, the series isn’t currently available to stream outside the US, but its widespread acclaim has raised hopes for an international release at some point in the future.

Helter Skelter: An American Myth is available to watch on Epix.

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