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Exclusive first news/poster/teaser: “LAST OF THE MANSON GIRLS”

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A new project taking a different look at the Charles Manson massacre is in the works, and we’ve got exclusive peeks at the first poster and teaser, plus some words from its creator, after the jump.

THE LAST OF THE MANSON GIRLS is a 10-part web series set to shoot in March and May in the Washington, DC area for writer/director Lonnie Martin and his Ningen Manga Productions, whose previous features include WOMEN’S STUDIES and COUGARS. Inspired by counterculture journalist Paul Krassner’s essay “My Acid Trip With Squeaky Fromme,” it takes place in 1972, and according to Martin, “Krassner [to be played by Elliott Kashner], convinced there’s more to the Manson murders than meets the public eye, embarks on an LSD-tinged investigation of the last of Manson’s disciples: Brenda McCann [Sarah Taurchini], Sandra Good [Cindy Marie Martin] and Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme [Jen Bevan]. What he finds could change how the world sees the ’60s—if he lives long enough to tell the story.”

The writer/director continues, “I contacted Krassner about adapting the essay, and he gave me his blessing, with the caveat that I send him a DVD and ‘have fun’ while making it.” He then gives Fango some background on the man: “During the ’60s, Krassner evolved into something of a proto-Jon Stewart. He was a co-founder of the pro-free speech and anti-war Yippies, and friends with controversial comedians Lenny Bruce, Dick Gregory and George Carlin. The irreverent style of political satire showcased in his counterculture magazine The Realist was and remains groundbreaking. Fake news shows like THE DAILY SHOW and THE COLBERT REPORT walk the road Krassner’s work paved.

“In 1971,” Martin continues, “Krassner became convinced the Manson murders were part of a larger CIA conspiracy in order to bring down the youth protest movement and make hippies look bad. Fed information by conspiracy radio host Mae Brussell [to be played by Robin Reck], Krassner tumbled down a rabbit hole of agent provocateurs, assassinations and ulterior motives that ultimately led to a face-to-face meeting with the remnants of Manson’s ‘family,’ the basis of his ‘My Acid Trip’ essay.”

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While the notorious saga of Manson and his followers has been the grist of numerous projects in various media, from the classic TV movie HELTER SKELTER to Jim VanBebber’s THE MANSON FAMILY, Martin says his will take a different, unique tack. “Most of those movies focused on Manson and the murders themselves; THE LAST OF THE MANSON GIRLS is different in that it takes place after the murders and trials. The main character here is Krassner, and the tale is a fictionalized recreation of his experiences with the Manson girls after their dear leader has been taken from them. Krassner himself is looking for reasons why the counterculture and the youth movement fell apart. He and the girls all share a kind of ‘What do we do now?’ outlook. They’re all searching for answers to questions they’re not sure how to articulate.

“We’re also trying to show Manson’s followers themselves as individuals rather than brainwashed cult members. They all have schemes for Krassner: Squeaky wants to indoctrinate him, Sandy wants to sleep with him and Brenda may just want to kill him. There’s a lot of comedy that comes from Krassner being utterly terrified when he realizes he’s in over his head.” Martin adds that staying true to the tone and texture of Krassner’s experiences will definitely lead the series into genre territory. “His interaction with the Manson girls, based on his essay, was at the same time creepy, funny and just plain weird. The fact that they’re all on LSD gives me an opportunity to play with trippy visuals, and there are a couple of moments of outright horror that I hope will be scary. It is the Manson girls, after all.”

In addition, he believes that this take on the cult leader/killer and his clan has particular resonance today. “With the racial overtones of police shootings in Ferguson, MO and New York, free speech under attack—literally, in the case of Charlie Hedbo—and seemingly unending wars overseas, 2015 has a lot of parallels to the turmoil of the late ’60s. The youth movements of that decade were truly revolutionary and strove to make real change in American culture, but the ‘peace and love’ era of Woodstock and women’s lib somehow devolved into the chaos of Watergate and the Weathermen. The Manson mythology just happens to be inextricably linked to any discussion of what put the nail in the coffin of the counterculture.”

Look for more on THE LAST OF THE MANSON GIRLS as it nears its scheduled debut in September!

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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