Eric Steele’s haunting documentary The Bridge (2006) captures nearly two dozen suicides off Golden Gate bridge over the course of a year. In the film, the jumpers are personalized with interviews from their families and friends. The film explores what compelled them, like so many others, to choose to end their lives by leaping off the popular landmark.
Before there was Making of a Murderer, there was Paradise Lost. In 1993, three eight-year-old boys were brutally raped, mutilated and murdered in West Memphis, Ark. in what appeared to be part of a satanic ritual. Shortly following the crime, three teenagers were charged with the murder. Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin were “outsiders.” They wore their hair long, listened to heavy metal and wore black. The local community and police force were on a witch hunt and these three boys were their targets. They were eventually found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. This film is a revealing look into the faults of our justice system and how stigmatization can lead to guilty verdicts.
What would possess someone to steal the identity of a missing child? This is what the 2012 film The Imposter tries to answer. In 1994, 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay goes missing and three years later, his family gets a call that Nicholas has been found … in Spain. The man that is returned to the Barclay family is not Nicholas. He has different color eyes, speaks with an accent and looks like he’s in his 20s as opposed to being a 16-year-old boy. But the family goes along with it until it becomes too evident.
In 2003, Timothy Treadwell and his girlfriend were eaten by a grizzly bear while they were exploring the Alaskan wilderness. Grizzly Man (2005) was directed by famed documentarian Werner Herzog and is the tragic portrayal of the life and violent death of Timothy Treadwell. Most of the film is comprised of Treadwell’s own footage that was taken over the course of several summers in Alaska. He would go there as he said, to “protect” the bears. But in his mind, he had become one of them, getting dangerously close to them and invading their space. In so doing, he crossed a boundary between man and beast, which ultimately cost him, and his innocent companion, their lives.
Many of us have seen the horror movie The Amityville Horror. In 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr., murdered his entire family while they were sleeping in a house in Amityville, New York. One year later, the Lutz’ move in and after a month of living in the house begin to experience terrifying paranormal activity. In My Amityville Horror (2012), oldest son Daniel Lutz revisits what his family experienced all those years ago.
In the disturbing documentary Child of Rage (1992), the filmmaker sat down with Beth Thomas, a girl who was severely abused as a child and was recently adopted by a new family. Beth was brought to counseling after her parents discovered her killing baby birds and molesting her biological younger brother. What Beth revealed to the interviewer, is something that should never escape the mouths of children.
In the Vice documentary, Interview with a Cannibal, Issei Sagawa explains why he murdered and devoured his classmate while studying at the Sorbonne in France. He fed on her body for several days before trying to dispose of her body in the Bois de Boulogne. He was caught, found too mentally insane to stand trial and eventually deported back to Japan, where he is a free man.
Titicut Follies(1967) is the disturbing look inside of Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane. In the film, the audience is witness to the harrowing constant abuse the patients constantly face from the guards and medical staff. It is a bleak look into how the mentally ill were treated as subhuman by the people who were in charge of their welfare.
On July 26, 2009, Diane Schuler, with her daughter and three nieces in her car, drove her minivan the wrong way on the Taconic State Parkway for two miles before crashing into an SUV. Eight people, including Schuler and the children in her car, were killed in the crash, making it the worst accident to occur in Westchester, New York in over 70 years. Toxicology reports revealed that she had the equivalent of 10 drinks in her system and high levels of THC. There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane (2011) examines the accident and how a seemingly “perfect” wife and successful “perfectionist” juxtaposes to the troubling events of that tragic day.
The Friedmans seemed like a wholesome family, until several children stepped forward claiming that the father, Arnold Friedman, and his son Jesse, had molested several boys that were part of their home-taught computer science class. In Capturing the Friedmans(2003), director Andrew Jarecki revisits the case and interview both Jesse and Arnold, whose life was left in ruins after the accusations.
On the surface Dear Zachary(2008) appears to be director Kurt Kuenne’s tribute video made for the infant son of his departed best friend, Andrew Bagby. But it slowly unravels into something more sinister. Bagby was murdered by his girlfriend, who while in prison revealed she was pregnant with his child.
Cropsey (2009) is the story of a terrifying urban legend that came to life. Cropsey was the name of the boogeyman who kidnapped and murdered children from Staten Island. A man named Andre Rand was ultimately charged with the crimes, but things might not be as cut and dry as you think.
In 2014, 12-year-olds Morgan Geyser and Annissa Weier lured their friend into the woods and stabbed her 19 times. Miraculously she survived, and now the two children responsible or the stabbing await sentencing. They said they were influenced by an online boogeyman named Slenderman. Beware the Slenderman (2016) examines how easily children can be manipulated through online persuasion and that even the most innocent are capable of unspeakable crimes.
Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017) is a newly released HBO documentary about the murder of Dee Dee Rose by her supposedly handicapped and mentally retarded daughter Gypsy Rose Blanchard. But not all is as it appears. What unravels is a perverse web of lies, deceit and the most disturbing case of Munchasen by proxy you will ever see.
15. 'Confessions of a Serial Killer: Jeffrey Dahmer'
In this MSNBC special, Stone Phillips interviews one of the world’s most infamous serial-killers: Jeffrey Dahmer. In the interview, Dahmer, who is joined by his father for part of the documentary, coldly explains why and how he murdered and ATE 17 young men. Good luck sleeping tonight.