Helter Skelter (1976)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by ScottR, Apr 20, 2004.

  1. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    This newly released disc looks and sounds "ok." Dirt, debris, scratches, and other splotches mar the image frequently. It doesn't look as if the print was remastered, although some scenes are cleaner than others.
    My main problem with this disc is the same that I have with most other multi-part television movies released to dvd...and that is that the two parts are combined. This wouldn't bother me if the opening credits were a separate entity...but they weren't. The opening credits were superimposed over film footage, so the second part is missing a few minutes. During the end credits we see "Cast for Part II"......I want to know who the cast was in part one as well. Cast members who were only in Part One now go uncredited. I don't think people realize that they are not getting the entire film when the parts are spliced together....same thing happened with Roots (which is missing several scenes) and Salem's Lot.
     
  2. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    thanks for the heads up about this Scott.
    i was looking forward to seeing this again, but i think i'll wait till i can get it from Columbia House.
    shame about the missing footage.

    this movie scared the HELL out of me as a 9 yr old back in 76.
     
  3. DanFe

    DanFe Second Unit

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    But isn't it only the credits we are missing? What scenes are missing from Roots? What scenes are missing from Helter Skelter?
     
  4. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    No, the opening credits played over the film, not separately..so when they combine the film, the section with the credits is deleted.
    In Roots:

    -Episode 4 of the dvd (around the 48 min. mark..this was originally two episodes. When the second hour starts on the dvd, we see a carriage with George Hamilton passing by Leslie Uggams. Originally, there was a five minute scene of him passing through the countryside, with great music playing. The credits were shown with this scene. The dvd deletes the opening credits and fades in much like a commercial break with the carriage already at the plantation.

    -Episode 5 of the dvd (48. min. or abouts) On the dvd we see Chicken George returning from England on his horse. However, originally there were several short scenes of the slaves working in the fields with some breathtaking cinematography used. The scenes were played under the opening credits. When those were tossed out on the dvd, so were the scenes.

    ....The same happens on Episode 3 of the dvd, but I haven't personally watched those episodes, so I can't comment on the missing scenes.

    Helter Skelter...the opening credits originally played with the guys in the car talking....the scene begins after the credits played over the scene.

    ..What I'm getting at is that you don't normally just lose credits....you are missing the scenes that played under them, unless you have a show where the credits were photographed on their own title cards.
     
  5. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    I'm not entirely sure anything is cut out on the DVD (other than the Part 1 End Credits and the needless "recap" at the start of Part 2).

    It appears to me that the "guys talking in car" scene is intact, because it begins on the DVD with the date flashed on screen (12/15/69), and with Bugliosi/DiCenzo narrating the start of the scene.

    I think they've somehow digitally removed the on-screen credits that were under this scene.

    Interestingly, the "Lifetime" TV Network last month aired this movie, and its run time was 3:01. The DVD is 3:03:44.

    I know that 40 seconds was cut out of the Lifetime airing at the VERY start of what was "Part 2", when Bugliosi (DiCenzo) is shown talking in front of the L.A. Courthouse. That scene is, however, on the DVD.

    BTW .... This new WB DVD version of "Helter" is outstanding (quality-wise), IMO. Very clear for a 28-year-old TV-film. A few dust speckles appear here and there; but, overall, it's excellent PQ.

    The audio is a 1.0 DD Mono. (The first DVD I've ever had that's been in 1.0, instead of a minimum of 2 channels.)

    But the 1.0 does very well on this DVD. Although there is an occasional "ghosting" (bleeding) of the soundtrack. Esp. noticed during Manson's "speech" late in the film (Ch. 39). He speaks (loudly), then you can here an "echo" of what he just said 2 seconds later (in the background). This is an inherent problem on VHS Tapes I have. Happens all the time on VHS (although usually in reverse -- where you hear the dialogue in the background FIRST, a "pre-echo"). I suppose this means the soundtrack here is derived from a "taped" source.
     
  6. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    David, I don't think the credits were digitally erased, although I am not 100%...I do know that very commonly (see Roots above) the new episodes begin with the credits, and this portion of the scene is cut. I was amazed and shocked when I saw an original broadcast print of Roots at the Museum of Radio and Television in New York last month and I saw those missing moments. I just always assumed the opening credits were separate from the film. But the dvd just starts off at the end of the credits. In the case of Roots, the credits were followed by dates similar to Helter Skelter, but the credits appeared before the dates/setting credit.
     
  7. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Anybody know if this is possible to do?
     
  8. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    David and Scott:

    It wouldn't be a matter of "digitally erasing" the credits at all, actually. The credits would have been optically-printed to burn the credits into the print, but since these mini-series would be shown worldwide, the original negative of the credits sequences sans any credits burned in would be kept seperate, so that foreign countries could burn in credits in their own language on a dupe of the clean, credit-free original (for example, "Directed by" in Italy would become "Regia"). I'd imagine for the new DVD release, they simply went back to the original credit-free negatives for the scene where the credits had originally been burned in for the 2nd part and transfered from that, instead of using the old optical print of this scene from the mid-1970s when the miniseries had been aired in multiple parts.

    Vincent
     
  9. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    I wonder then how the Helter Skelter title with the blaring music would have fit in?
     
  10. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    But was Part 2's opening title the same as Part 1, with The Beatles screaming out "Helter Skelter!!" ??

    I can't recall.
     
  11. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    OK. Makes sense.
    Perhaps that is the answer here.
    Thanks Vincent.
     
  12. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    Yes. I do it all the time on graphic images. You need to recreate the missing information. If two people are sitting in a car talking the credits might be near the bottom of the screen covering the door of the car, edge of the window, etc. That data can be sampled from other parts of the image, or from frames without the titles (like between the titles appearing).

    -paul
     
  13. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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  14. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

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    I've seen this one so many times, I can tell you what's missing. They simply removed the freezeframe and credits from part one, and the recap and opening credits from part 2. It's a little awkward but it works OK. I always skipped over the recap and credits on part 2 anyway.
     
  15. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Yes, we all know that.
    But the meat of the debate (above) was whether some small portion of dialogue at the beginning of "Part 2" is missing on the seamless DVD version.

    As I mentioned, it seems to me the whole "TV crew in car" scene is intact. But perhaps a tiny bit is omitted that had credits running underneath. Do you know for certain, Paul McElligott?
     
  16. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

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    No... I didn't notice anything missing, unless it's also been missing from the TV versions I've seen over the last 20 years. After the credits, part II always began with the Bugliosi intro and went straight into the TV crew bit. If something was going to missing from Part II due to editing the two parts together, it would have been from Bugliosi bit and that was intact, right down to the fade-up from after the credits.

    As I said, the only things missing are closing credits, music, recap and opening credits.
     
  17. David Von Pein

    David Von Pein Producer

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    Excellent, Paul!
    Thanks a lot.

    You've cleared up the whole thing here (since you can definitely recall WHERE those opening Part 2 credits were originally located).

    So, the Part 2 credits were shown over NO ACTION whatsoever, correct? Just music?

    I didn't think any scenes were cut; but you've set my "Helter"-loving mind at rest with your comments here.

    Where the heck have you been, my man??! [​IMG]

    Some of us here have been wondering about this for weeks now! LOL. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    (And checking my old VHS copy didn't help; because it was taken from a version where the two parts were shown together, just like the DVD -- but with the Bugliosi/DiCenzo Part 2 intro bit missing, which is (as you eluded) intact on the DVD version.)

    Thanks again, Paul.


    P.S. -- I'm looking forward to the Helter re-make movie in a couple of weeks. From the CBS site, it appears it will be quite a bit different from the 1976 version...focusing a good deal on WHY and HOW Manson did what he did in August 1969. And I like Bruno Kirby in most anything I've seen him in. The gal they got to portray "Sadie Mae Glutz" (Susan Atkins) looks like a dandy choice too. Although she'll have to go the limit to beat out Nancy Wolfe from the '76 flick, who was ultra-creepy as Sadie. [​IMG]
     
  18. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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    I can't see how it can match the original.
     
  19. Anthony Clifton

    Anthony Clifton Stunt Coordinator

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    That's okay, the original doesn't match the book. [​IMG]
     
  20. James RD

    James RD Supporting Actor

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    And the book couldn't match the reality.[​IMG]
     

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