For my second Halloween-themed article here at Biff Bam Pop, I figured I’d meld two of my favourite film genres into one comprehensive list. Are you a big fan of the season, but want your scares more grounded in reality? Would you rather learn than escape? Below is a list of horror-themed documentaries that are sure to satisfy your hunger for down-to-earth scares and information. The first part of the list are docs dealing with dark & disturbing themes (or Halloween-based, at least), while the second part are docs about horror films themselves. All are well-worth a watch.
DOCS FROM THE DARK:
Not to be confused with the killer from ‘The Burning’, this unsettling doc investigates an urban legend that turns into a real case involving missing children. A subject so creepy, you’ll have trouble believing it’s real. But it is.
My Amityville Horror
A fascinating character study of Daniel Lutz, one of the affected family members of the Amityville Hauntings. Through intense interviews with the subject, the doc makes you question everything you’ve heard about the infamous story, and even the sanity of the man himself.
The American Scream
Several groups of families prepare for elaborate Halloween haunted houses in this funny and heartwarming doc from the director of ‘Best Worst Movie’.
The Atomic Cafe
A collection of US-propaganda films from the 40s and 50s that are equal parts terrifying and hilarious.
You haven’t seen horror until you’ve seen haunted houses run and organized by fundamentalist Christians from Texas. This is a lot like ‘Jesus Camp’…. if indoctrination scares you, then this is a must see.
I saw this at Fantasia in the summer, so it’s not readily available yet. Richard Stanley (Hardware, Dust Devil) made this out-there documentary about ‘The Zone’, an untouched area in the south of France believed to be a land of real magic, and real evil. It’s unsettling stuff, and must be seen when it’s available.
I directed this one, so you can take it’s inclusion on the list however you wish. However, Greg/Skull Man personifies the Halloween spirit in my mind, and the doc is a fun examination of his life and unique goals.
Chronicles a struggling paranormal investigator named Kim Hadfield as she tries to come to terms with her difficult life. More character study than spook-fest, this Canadian-made flick is worth a look.
THE CREATION OF HORROR
Men In Suits
A fascinating documentary that gives proper respect to suit actors such as Doug Jones, Brian Steele, Tom Woodruff Jf, the original Godzilla actors, and more. It’s hard to find, but worth hunting down.
The American Nightmare
Still one of my favourite documentaries on horror film, this focuses on films from the 60s – 70s, and how the work of the artists reflected the events of the society they were working within.
Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film
Covering similar ground as ‘The American Nightmare’, but still a very worthy watch.
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy
One of the best documentaries ever made about a film series, this 4-hour examination of all films in ‘The Nightmare on Elm Street’ catalogue is an absolute must for fans.
More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead
The ‘Never Sleep Again’ team focus their intense lens on ‘Return of the Living Dead’, with predictably great results.
Document of the Dead
A great ‘fly-on-the-wall’ look into the making of George A. Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’. Recently released in a newly updated version, if you haven’t seen this, don’t hesitate.
Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th
The team that made ‘Never Sleep Again’ returns with this 400-minute examination of the entire ‘Friday the 13th’ series. Comprehensive doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Birth of the Living Dead
The genesis of ‘Night of the Living Dead’ is given a great examination, in the context of the social chaos of the time in was made. It covers some of the same ground as ‘The American Nightmare’ and ‘Nightmares in Red, White and Blue’, but it’s still a very interesting watch.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: A Family Portrait
Great ‘behind-the-scenes’ doc about the making of the original ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’.
Best Worst Movie
Hilarious documentary examining the fandom behind the cult-classic ‘Troll 2’, created by the actor who played the little boy in the film. Essential viewing.
Swallowed Souls: The Making of ‘Evil Dead 2’
Only available as a special feature on the 25th-Anniversary edition Blu-Ray of ‘Evil Dead 2’, this great 98-minute documentary is on par with the work of the ‘Never Sleep Again’ team, and is informative and entertaining from start to finish.
Also worth a look
Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore
It Came From Kuchar
Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!
Machete Maidens Unleashed!