Thursday, August 5, 2010

social satire or schlocky pulp?

There’s a hybristophile in all of us waiting for the right social triggers to release our inner beast...

Reginald Harkema’s much anticipated film, Leslie, My Name is Evil investigates this premise via real life character Leslie van Houten known as Lulu by her friends in the family. The Manson Family that is. Although uncharacteristically Charlie, himself never deigned to give her a pet name.

John Waters slammed it without seeing it which has to be a red flag for those who adore offending camp sensibilities. In retrospective horror he has gone to the lengths of apologising for his infamous comic references in his own past films to the related murders citing irresponsibility in the name of shock value. And that's what this film potentially does. With equal measures of less and more subtlety than some of Water’s notorious graphic asshole acrobatics, and canine faecal sampling [that’s eating dog shit for the uninitiated].

Leslie, a lost disenchanted girl at nineteen teetering on the status quo borderline was arguably seduced by the dark side in a polarized world of 1950s artificial Christianized sensibilities versus the freedom offered by dropping out and drifting into the sexual revolution. Today, she is still incarcerated for her part in the laBianca slayings, conducted when she was still a teenager desperately trying to prove her merit to the all powerful Manson who constantly overlooked her. A wayward princess ironically trying to fit in via the classic gang initiation rite.

A visually juxtaposed film effectively mixing iconic video and audio stock footage with new produces an exaggerated stylized Lichtenstein larger than life caricature effect loosely based on the Charles Manson trials focussing on Leslie, one time cheerleader, prom queen then murdering nymphomaniacal acolyte. A snapshot of her journey and the representation of worlds colliding as she luridly exploits her sexuality and forces one frustrated juror to question his morality in the face of hypocritical demonization.

Despite the camp OTT delivery this film is much more social satire than schlocky pulp but it’s happy to flippantly traverse both worlds. It does ask important questions and raises problematic Hobbes-like contextual comparisons.

Who does have license to kill, in a world where right wing moral crusaders under Nixon’s leadership espouse the mass murder in Vietnam and the protection of the righteous white path? If the nature of man is the nature of war [in search of peace] when is murder wrong when its being publically pimped as socially, politically, and religiously acceptable. When is a person a gook and not a pig?

Leslie, My Name is Evil has its Australian Premiere at Possible Worlds Canadian Film Festival followed by a special "Fight the Power" party this Saturday. A must see/do.


  1. I really wanted to see this film, but we only had 3 windows of oportunity. I blame the possible worlds festival for programming too many good films.

  2. it's a terrible dilemma. if only they ran the cinemas 24/7.

  3. The reason John waters has slammed this film, is he is a personal friend of the real lesley van houton, visiting her in jail for over 30 years, and part of a active support network campaigning for her release. the problem is lesley like all the killers involved in the tate/labianca killings keep changing their story, and keep blaming charlie, ironically manson is the most honest of the lot, he has never changed his story and never killed anyone, he is in priosn for conpiracy to murder x9. perhaps waters shoudl have been mansons friend. LOL