List of Hippie Exploitation and Manson Family-Inspired Films

by Strange-Beacons | created - 03 Jul 2014 | updated - 9 months ago | Public

Assembled here is a list of hippie exploitation and Manson family-inspired films, spanning the years from 1967 to present. Most of the films involve fictional Hollywood plots, with a few masquerading as “documentaries,” but which really amounted, then and now, to little more than anti-hippie propaganda. However, because most of these films were produced during the actual time of the hippie movement, shot on real locations and often employed actual hippies as “extras,” they serve as excellent time capsules for that period. Also included here for reference purposes are those more “authentic” films produced during the hippie era (such as Woodstock and Gimme Shelter) that depict the 1960’s counter culture at its height. (Feel free to suggest additions to this list that I may have missed. Also, here's a hint: many of these movies have been uploaded to YouTube, where you can watch them for free).

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1. Psych-Out (1968)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama

A deaf runaway arrives in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury hippie district looking for her missing brother.

Director: Richard Rush | Stars: Susan Strasberg, Dean Stockwell, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern

Votes: 2,258

Yes, this is a somewhat silly story, but most importantly, it is an absolutely outstanding time capsule containing actual footage shot in Haight-Ashbury during the height of the original hippie scene.

2. Helter Skelter (1976)

Not Rated | 194 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

The investigation and trial of the horrific Tate-LaBianca mass murders orchestrated by the psychotic pseudo-hippie cult leader, Charles Manson.

Stars: George DiCenzo, Steve Railsback, Nancy Wolfe, Marilyn Burns

Votes: 3,216

Made for television movie that is surprisingly entertaining, even though it is over the top at times, and inaccurate in some of the details. Stars Steve Railsback, who portrays Manson as a wild-eyed maniacal hippie elf whom nobody in their right mind would dare follow to the outhouse, let alone into madness and murder. Based on the true crime book of the same name by Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie.

3. Thumb Tripping (1972)

R | 94 min | Drama

An adventurous couple of hitchhikers decides to accept every ride that is offered to them. no matter how odd the driver might be. They'll get more than they bargained for.

Director: Quentin Masters | Stars: Michael Burns, Meg Foster, Bruce Dern, Michael Conrad

Votes: 83

The joys of being young and free hippies on the road are contrasted to the dangers encountered while hitchhiking. A simple, yet entertaining film about coming of age in the Age of Aquarius. Great location shots of San Francisco and the California coast back in the day.

4. Helter Skelter (2004 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 180 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

A new take on the Manson Family murders, with a keen focus on Charles Manson himself.

Director: John Gray | Stars: Jeremy Davies, Clea DuVall, Allison Smith, Eric Dane

Votes: 3,187

Remake of the original 1976 made for television movie that is worth watching, but left me with the feeling that they could have done so much more with this film. (Too much of the back story was left out). Actor Jeremy Davies' portrayal of Manson is spot on in places, completely over-acted in others. Definitely worth your time, as this remake corrects a few of the mistakes made in the original, but frustratingly, adds some new ones of its own.

5. Something's Happening (1967)

75 min | Documentary

A documentary chronicling the "youth movement" of the late '60s on Los Angeles' Sunset Strip and San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district.

Director: Edgar Beatty | Stars: Muhammad Ali, Carl Franzoni, William Arthur Matons, Elliot Mintz

Votes: 68

An awkward and meandering exploitation film masquerading as a documentary, but still good. The footage was shot in the Haight-Ashbury district during the historic 1967 Summer of Love.

6. Manson (1973)

R | 83 min | Documentary, Biography, Crime

Documentary on Charles Manson and his family. Has a number of insightful interviews with many family members most notably Squeaky and Sandy (Blue and Red). There is also a history of Manson... See full summary »

Directors: Robert Hendrickson, Laurence Merrick | Stars: Mary Brunner, Vincent Bugliosi, Bruce Davis, Lynette Fromme

Votes: 871

This film rates as among the best of the original documentaries about the Manson family. It features interviews that were conducted with actual Family members just shortly after the arrest of Manson and the others. An excellent soundtrack is provided by former Manson family members Brooks Poston and Paul Watkins. It doesn't get anymore real than this.

7. Deathmaster (1972)

PG | 84 min | Horror

Quarry is a mysterious, articulate stranger who draws a cult like following of local hippies. Rather than showing them peace and love, he has more sinister plans for them, as he is a ... See full summary »

Director: Ray Danton | Stars: Robert Quarry, Bill Ewing, Brenda Dickson, John Fiedler

Votes: 308

A group of eager young hippie disciples, consisting mostly of a harem of young girls, worship and kill for a hypnotic hippie guru vampire, a character obviously inspired by Charles Manson. Good, in that 70s B-movie, schlocky sort of way, dig? (P.S. You can generally find and watch this full movie on YouTube)

8. I Drink Your Blood (1970)

R | 83 min | Horror

A group of hippies wreak havoc on a small town and a young boy, whose grandfather and sister were attacked by them, decides to get even, with deadly results.

Director: David E. Durston | Stars: Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury, Jadin Wong, Rhonda Fultz, George Patterson

Votes: 3,054

Silly 1971 film about a cult of homicidal, acid-dropping, devil-worshiping hippies whose Mansonesque leader utters the classic line, "Let it be known, sons and daughters, that Satan was an acid head." (From the press-book accompanying the release of "I Drink Your Blood," we find the warning "Did you ever imagine what would happen if your community were invaded by hippies? You can now see what can happen to a town when hippies go wild!") This film has been humorously described by one reviewer as "the quintessential tale of a group of Satan-worshipping hippies who ingest meat pies contaminated by the blood of a rabid dog and go on a murder spree."

9. The Night God Screamed (1971)

GP | 85 min | Crime, Horror

A woman is persecuted by Jesus freaks after they've crucified her preacher husband.

Director: Lee Madden | Stars: Jeanne Crain, Alex Nicol, Dan Spelling, Michael Sugich

Votes: 188

A Masonesque figure leads a group of Jesus-obsessed hippies on a murder spree. Campy and over the top, (and the Manson clone has a unibrow) but worth a look. (P.S. You can generally find and watch this full movie on YouTube).

10. Terror on the Beach (1973 TV Movie)

74 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

A family's outing turns out badly as they are terrorized by a gang of young thugs.

Director: Paul Wendkos | Stars: Dennis Weaver, Estelle Parsons, Kristoffer Tabori, Susan Dey

Votes: 281

Made for television movie (featuring Dennis Weaver and Susan Dey) about a family on a beach vacation who are terrorized by a group of crazed dune buggy driving, Manson Family-like hippies. This movie is plodding in a couple of places, but the overall scenario is quite creepy and you can really feel the tension as it builds. I really enjoyed this one. (P.S. You can generally find and watch this full movie on YouTube).

11. The Manson Family (1997)

R | 95 min | Crime, Drama, History

56 Metascore

A dramatization of the horrific and notorious Manson Family Murders, in the form of super 8 home movies.

Director: Jim Van Bebber | Stars: Marcelo Games, Marc Pitman, Leslie Orr, Maureen Allisse

Votes: 2,977 | Gross: $0.02M

Of all of the modern Manson films, this one easily rates as the most violent and bloody as it reconstructs the Tate-Labianca murders. It also contains lots of sex and full-frontal nudity. It is not a bad movie, but in my opinion, there are better ones out there. Your own experience will depend on what your tastes are and what you expect from a film covering this subject.

12. The Other Side of Madness (1971)

X | 82 min | Crime, Drama

A mixture of documentary footage and re-enactment scenes, some filmed on the action locations, of the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders committed by the gang known as the Manson Family.

Director: Frank Howard | Stars: Brian Klinknett, Erica Bigelow, Paula Shannon, Linda Van Compernolle

Votes: 174

Alternate title, "The Helter Skelter Murders." This is a sleazy 1970 film produced in record time, appearing almost immediately after the arrest of the Manson family and was a blatant attempt to cash in on all the lurid publicity, while claiming to depict the “true story” of the Manson murders. (The movie was shot on several authentic locations and features a dramatization of Manson’s “Helter Skelter” race war. Also includes one of Manson’s own songs, “Mechanical Man” in the score.

13. The Strawberry Statement (1970)

R | 109 min | Drama, Romance

An apolitical college student joins a group of campus protesters to meet girls but gets swept up in their cause and involved in a violent confrontation with police.

Director: Stuart Hagmann | Stars: Bruce Davison, Kim Darby, Bud Cort, Murray MacLeod

Votes: 1,369 | Gross: $0.80M

A film about the counterculture and student revolts of the 1960s. Has a great soundtrack and won an award at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival.

14. Sweet Savior (1971)

X | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

A Manson-like cult leader takes his "flock" to New York City, where they do drugs and kill people.

Director: Robert L. Roberts | Stars: Troy Donahue, Renay Granville, Francine Middleton, Tallie Cochrane

Votes: 155

Also known as "The Love Thrill Murders," this is actually just a soft-core porn film that features actor Troy Donahue as “Moon,” a violence-obsessed, Manson-clone who is the leader of a murderous Jesus freak hippie cult in New York City’s Greenwich Village. (P.S. You can generally find and watch this full movie on YouTube).

15. The Cult (1971)

X | 69 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A monk-robed cult leader who lives in a coffin, is transported around in a black hearse. At times he gets sadistic with his girl followers.

Director: Albert Zugsmith | Stars: Makee K. Blaisdell, Debbie Osborne, Sean Kenney, Candice Roman

Votes: 59

Alternate title, "The Manson Massacre." This film could serve as the perfect example of what is meant by a "hippie exploitation" film. Has a meandering plot that seems to exist primarily to showcase the nudity of the various actresses portraying the "Manson girls."

16. Snuff (1975)

X | 80 min | Horror

A so-called "snuff" movie involving the exploits of a cult leader leading a gang of bikers in a series of supposedly real killings on film.

Directors: Michael Findlay, Horacio Fredriksson, Simon Nuchtern | Stars: Margarita Amuchástegui, Tina Austin, Ana Carro, Brian Cary

Votes: 1,468

1971 film (later renamed Slaughter) in which a bearded and very creepy Manson-like cult leader uses hypnosis on young girls in order to orchestrate a series of murders.

17. The Born Losers (1967)

PG | 113 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

Billy Jack battles outlaw motorcycle gang in a small California beach town.

Director: Tom Laughlin | Stars: Tom Laughlin, Elizabeth James, Jeremy Slate, William Wellman Jr.

Votes: 2,036 | Gross: $26.54M

First film in the Bill Jack series finds our "Champion of the Hippie" super hero Billy Jack in his debut role, battling a vicious biker gang. I really enjoyed this movie, if for nothing else, than just because I love a good tale of an underdog who risks it all to fight for truth and justice.

18. Billy Jack (1971)

GP | 114 min | Action, Drama, Western

50 Metascore

Ex-Green Beret hapkido expert saves wild horses from being slaughtered for dog food and helps protect a desert "freedom school" for runaway.

Director: Tom Laughlin | Stars: Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor, Clark Howat, Victor Izay

Votes: 5,318 | Gross: $98.00M

Second (and best) film in the Bill Jack series. We once again find our "Champion of the Hippie" super hero Billy Jack standing up for the defenseless, this time battling against small-minded, ruthless townspeople hell bent on destroying the hippie enclave known as the Freedom School. This film has everything you could possibly want in a hippie action film. Highly recommended.

19. The Trial of Billy Jack (1974)

PG | 170 min | Action, Drama, Music

After Billy Jack in sentenced to four years in prison for the "involuntary manslaughter" of the first film, the Freedom School expands and flourishes under the guidance of Jean Roberts. The... See full summary »

Director: Tom Laughlin | Stars: Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor, Victor Izay, Teresa Kelly

Votes: 1,207 | Gross: $89.00M

Third film in the Bill Jack series. Takes up where the second film left off, as Billy emerges from prison to once again battle against The Man in defense of the hippie haven known as the Freedom School. Like all of the Billy Jack movies (with the exception of The Born Losers), this one also references actual events in counterculture history, most notably in this film, the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam and the shooting of student protesters by National Guardsmen at Kent State university.

20. Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977)

Not Rated | 155 min | Drama, Thriller

After a Senator suddenly dies after completing (and sealing) an investigation into the nuclear power industry, the remaining Senator and the state Governor must decide on a person who will ... See full summary »

Director: Tom Laughlin | Stars: Tom Laughlin, Delores Taylor, E.G. Marshall, Teresa Kelly

Votes: 613

Fourth and final film in the Bill Jack series (and, in my opinion, the least interesting of them all, included here mainly because I dislike incomplete lists). This is kind of the hippie version of the film, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Billy Jack is now a United States Senator battling against the final, ultimate corrupt force manifested in the guise of the United States government. (The premise of this film from the 70s proves that some things never change, eh? Oh, Billy, we sure could use you now).

21. Easy Rider (1969)

R | 95 min | Adventure, Drama

86 Metascore

Through the open country and desert lands, two bikers head from L.A to New Orleans, and along the way, meet a man who bridges a counter-culture gap they are unaware of.

Director: Dennis Hopper | Stars: Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Jack Nicholson, Antonio Mendoza

Votes: 94,110 | Gross: $41.73M

Obviously, I'm a total fan of the hippie era, but am I the only person who thinks that this movie, while interesting and important, is just a bit too tedious in places? Regardless of my opinion, this is a great time capsule of the time period, and the final message it delivers is subtle, yet compelling.

22. Revolution (1968)

Not Rated | 87 min | Documentary, History, Music

A documentary that explores the counterculture of San Francisco in the mid-1960's. In HD.

Director: Jack O'Connell | Stars: Ace of Cups, Herb Caen, Country Joe and the Fish, Louis Gottlieb

Votes: 169

Alternate title, "Hippie Revolution." Nicely done documentary film by Jack O'Connell, made in San Francisco in 1967. Highlights include the 19 year old hippie chick named Today who drops acid and sells the Berkeley Barb underground newspaper on Haight Street. Soundtrack features Ace of Cups, Country Joe and the Fish, Steve Miller Band, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Mother Earth, and Dan Hicks.

23. The Trip (II) (1967)

Not Rated | 82 min | Drama

After his wife leaves him, a disillusioned director dives into the drug scene, trying anything his friend suggests.

Director: Roger Corman | Stars: Peter Fonda, Susan Strasberg, Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper

Votes: 4,141

Stars Peter Fonda (of Easy Rider fame) as a troubled young man who takes an LSD trip. This movie was directed by Roger Corman and written by Jack Nicholson. Great time capsule showing various locations in 1967 California during the original hippie era.

24. Wild in the Streets (1968)

R | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Music

A young man gains significant political influence as the leader of a counterculture rock band with his rallying cry of voting rights for teenagers.

Director: Barry Shear | Stars: Christopher Jones, Shelley Winters, Diane Varsi, Hal Holbrook

Votes: 1,764

A cult classic of the counterculture era that, in my opinion, has not held up well for modern audiences. Features cameo appearances from major personalities of the period (1968) as well as the memorable Max Frost and the Troopers song, "Shape of Things to Come."

25. The Hooked Generation (1968)

R | 92 min | Crime, Drama

About a gang of dope peddlers who sail out to meet a Cuban boat. The trouble starts when they are forced to throw their narcotics overboard and are seen by a young couple.

Director: William Grefé | Stars: Jeremy Slate, Steve Alaimo, John Davis Chandler, Willie Pastrano

Votes: 126

This film will always be in competition for the worst example of hippie exploitation films ever made. Listed here primarily because this list would be incomplete without it. Watch it at your own risk (of thinking that you've totally wasted over an hour of your life).

26. Woodstock (1970)

R | 184 min | Documentary, History, Music

The film chronicle of the legendary 1969 music festival.

Director: Michael Wadleigh | Stars: Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Roger Daltrey, Joe Cocker

Votes: 15,288 | Gross: $50.00M

It's long, overly-talky in too many places, and one of the most excellent documentaries about hippie culture ever filmed. Woodstock remains as a testament to everything that was positive about the hippie movement as a whole.

Alternate titles, "Sign of Aquarius" and "Ghetto Freaks." Another prime example of a hippie exploitation film, featuring a rambling plot and LSD trips galore.

28. Gimme Shelter (1970)

GP | 91 min | Documentary, Music, Thriller

80 Metascore

A harrowing documentary of the Stones' 1969 tour, with much of the focus on the tragic concert at Altamont.

Directors: Albert Maysles, David Maysles, Charlotte Zwerin | Stars: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Mick Taylor, Charlie Watts

Votes: 10,142 | Gross: $0.25M

This is a documentary that tells the story of the Rolling Stones 1969 tour that was marred by violence and death during a free concert held at the Altamont Speedway. If Woodstock stood as an example of everything that was good and positive about the counterculture/hippie movement, then Altamont stands for all that could and ultimately did, go wrong. (The film literally captures a turning point in history, after which many hippies decided to flee the city scenes and move to communes located in the country, far from the sort of madness represented at Altamont).

Also known as "The Psychedelic Priest." This film is best summed up by a reviewer, who wrote: "It's not a lost masterpiece by any means, but its an interesting illustration of the generation. Unlike many other films from the era, this one is refreshingly unbiased, showing both the positives and the negatives of the Woodstock generation. It's a road movie obviously inspired by 'Easy Rider,' and while its nowhere near as powerful or definitive as that film, it has its effective moments and social commentary."

30. Joe (1970)

R | 107 min | Drama, Thriller

Two men, Bill, a wealthy conservative, and Joe, a far-right factory worker, form a dangerous bond after Bill confesses to murdering his daughter's drug dealer boyfriend to Joe.

Director: John G. Avildsen | Stars: Peter Boyle, Dennis Patrick, Susan Sarandon, Patrick McDermott

Votes: 2,631 | Gross: $19.32M

A New York construction worker helps the father of a young hippie girl cover up a murder and later, commits other murders of hippies living at a commune. Features Susan Sarandon in her very first movie role.

31. Berkeley in the Sixties (1990)

Not Rated | 117 min | Documentary

A documentary about militant student political activity in the University of California-Berkely in the 1960's.

Director: Mark Kitchell | Stars: Jentri Anders, Joan Baez, Frank Bardacke, Stokely Carmichael

Votes: 654

Excellent documentary that focuses on hippies on the Berkeley and Haight-Ashbury scene back in the day.

32. Go Ask Alice (1973 TV Movie)

74 min | Drama

A 15-year-old girl in late-1960s America is sucked into an odyssey of sex and drugs and eventually seeks help.

Director: John Korty | Stars: William Shatner, Ruth Roman, Wendell Burton, Julie Adams

Votes: 828

We witness the downfall of a young hippie flower child as told through a series of diary entries that chronicle her descent into drugs and bad behavior. Based on a "true story," later proved to have never actually happened. I enjoyed this one, primarily for its B-movie charm.

33. Zabriskie Point (1970)

R | 113 min | Drama

At Zabriskie Point, United States' lowest point, two perfect strangers meet; an undergraduate dreamer and a young hippie student who start off an unrestrained romance, making love on the dusty terrain.

Director: Michelangelo Antonioni | Stars: Mark Frechette, Daria Halprin, Paul Fix, G.D. Spradlin

Votes: 13,846 | Gross: $1.05M

Film centered on counterculture hippie youth and political unrest among students of the 60s era. This was shot on location in parts of Death Valley where the Manson family lived until they were arrested. The pace of this movie can be agonizingly slow at times, but the cinematography is excellent and it is an outstanding time capsule of the 60s era.

34. The Love-Ins (1967)

Approved | 91 min | Drama

A college professor resigns in protest to the dismissal of student underground newspaper workers and later joins their "hippie movement" and becomes their "Messiah."

Director: Arthur Dreifuss | Stars: Richard Todd, James MacArthur, Susan Oliver, Mark Goddard

Votes: 186

Hippie exploitation film with a plot that focuses on a Timothy Leary type figure who is followed by a group of hippies who like using LSD.

35. Riot on Sunset Strip (1967)

Not Rated | 87 min | Drama

LA police captain attempts to appease Sunset Strip businessmen objecting to hippy youths hanging out, by setting a curfew. The cop also thinks the kids have a right to be there, until his estranged daughter joins the counter-culture crowd.

Director: Arthur Dreifuss | Stars: Aldo Ray, Mimsy Farmer, Michael Evans, Laurie Mock

Votes: 369

Hippie exploitation film masquerading as a cautionary tale of the dangers of alternative lifestyles and the use of LSD. Set against the historical backdrop of the actual 1966 Sunset Strip curfew riots.

36. Cisco Pike (1972)

R | 95 min | Drama

A down on his luck former drug dealer is forced by a corrupt LAPD policeman to sell 100 kilos of confiscated marijuana in one weekend.

Director: Bill Norton | Stars: Kris Kristofferson, Karen Black, Gene Hackman, Harry Dean Stanton

Votes: 1,116

Stars Kris Kristofferson as a hippie musician who has fallen on hard times and must unload a trunk-full of marijuana in order to survive. Filming locations in California include Hollywood and Venice.

37. The Hippie Temptation (1967 TV Movie)

50 min | Documentary

Explores the way-out world of the Hippies and the Haight-Ashbury psychedelic 1960s LSD scene. Footage of LSDs users experiencing bummer trips. The Diggers, the Oracle and cool street and ... See full summary »

Stars: Peter Coyote, Jerry Garcia, Grateful Dead, Harry Reasoner

Votes: 12

Hard to find CBS TV news special hosted by Harry Reasoner. Focuses on hippies of the Haight-Ashbury psychedelic scene and includes footage of people tripping on LSD. Other topics include The Diggers, the Oracle and assorted hippie happenings of the time.

38. The Love Generation (1967)

This Programme about the hippies and their summer of love in San Francisco and Los Angeles is by the BBC is filmed during the said year for British TV and features interviews with many ... See full summary »

British documentary that looks at the 1967 San Francisco and Los Angeles hippie scenes. Very well done.

39. Gas! -Or- It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It. (1970)

R | 78 min | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi

A gas is let loose upon the world that kills anyone over 25 years old.

Director: Roger Corman | Stars: Bob Corff, Elaine Giftos, Bud Cort, Talia Shire

Votes: 1,170

40. Charlie Says (2018)

R | 110 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

57 Metascore

The tragic tale of an all-American girl who was transformed into a cold-blooded killer in the summer of 1969.

Director: Mary Harron | Stars: Hannah Murray, Matt Smith, Sosie Bacon, Marianne Rendón

Votes: 1,868 | Gross: $0.04M

41. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood (2019)

R | 161 min | Comedy, Drama

83 Metascore

A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood's Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Emile Hirsch

Votes: 393,381 | Gross: $135.37M

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