The Other Side of Madness appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. As expected, this low-budget, 50-year-old movie came with a mix of problems.
Sharpness was mostly fine. Some shots lost definition, but the majority of the movie offered fairly appealing accuracy.
No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I witnessed no edge haloes, but print flaws became a concern. Throughout the movie, these presented specks, scratches, lines and other marks. Some scenes worked better than others, but the defects created a fair number of distractions along the way.
Though the vast majority of Madness was black and white, one scene offered color footage. When “The Starlet” acted in a movie, we briefly departed the monochromatic world of the rest of the flick. The hues looked surprisingly good, as they seemed well-rendered and lush.
Blacks came across as reasonably dark but low-light shots tended to be moderately thick. The image suffered from too many problems to rate above a “C-”.
Don’t expect a whole lot from the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, as it offered a flawed presentation. Speech remained intelligible but showed a mix of concerns, as lines tended to be edgy and reedy.
Effects tended to be rough and harsh, whereas music was shrill and without much range. A fair amount of background noise also interfered, with a mix of pops. Even given the movie’s age and low-budget origins, this became a weak soundtrack.
Two featurettes appear here: “The Other Side of Manson” (15:50) and “Mechanical Man” (4:30). Both bring audio comments from producer Wade Williams.
In these, Williams discusses the project’s origins and development, cast and crew, sets and locations, the involvement of Charles Manson, and the movie’s release. Williams gives us a good overview of various subjects.
The disc ends with two trailers. One exists for the movie’s original release, while the second exists for its 1976 re-issue as The Helter Skelter Murders, a reworking obviously intended to capitalize on the popularity of the book and TV movie Helter Skelter.
A second disc brings a two-track CD for Madness. It presents “Garbage Dump” and “Mechanical Men”, two songs from Charles Manson. It’s unclear if Manson enjoyed any actual musical talent, but these tunes are awful.
Finally, the set includes a booklet. It presents photos and an essay from filmmaker Alexander Tuschinski. The booklet finishes matters on a satisfactory note.
Shot close in time to the events that inspired it, The Other Side of Madness creates an unusual take on the Manson Family and their actions. Unfortunately, it never becomes anything more than an amateurish attempt to exploit those events. The Blu-ray comes with erratic picture and audio as well as a few bonus features. Madness merits a look as a historical curiosity, but it flops as a film.