“In our town, Halloween was terrifying and thrilling, and there was a whiff of homicide. We’d travel by foot in the dark for miles, collecting candy, watching out for adults who seemed too eager to give us treats.”
- Rosencrans Baldwin
October is officially here and with it comes one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States, Halloween. Many Americans will spend the month embracing all aspects of the holiday – decorating their home with elaborate decorations, picking out their perfect costume, attending Halloween parties and loading up on Halloween candy to share (or not) with the trick-or-treaters that will come knocking on Halloween night.
One of the best ways to celebrate the holiday in the weeks leading up to the ‘big day’ is through a series of Halloween movie marathons. We curl up under our cosiest blanket on the couch binge watching Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, among others. In fact, extensive lists exist online highlighting the top 50 or more Halloween movies that we ‘must see’ if we wish to declare ourselves to be true Halloween lovers.
Mark Twain once said, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” While the horror movies that we all love and embrace are highly entertaining, if you are looking for a true scare why not consider indulging yourself in a little real-life horror? There are a number of great documentaries that would fit the bill, with topics ranging from vampires and witches to serial killers and cannibals. These films instil a deeper fear than their fictional counterparts as we are left considering the reality behind what we have just seen.
Next time that you are preparing for a Halloween movie marathon, consider adding any of these 25 chilling documentaries to your ‘must watch’ list:
1. The Exorcist in the 21st Century
The concept of exorcism is often viewed as a thing of the past; however, the Catholic church is still carrying out these rituals today! Learn more about modern exorcism in this documentary.
2. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer
Believed to be America’s first female serial killer, this true-crime documentary shares the life and crimes of Aileen Wuornos.
Although some may debate whether or not this is a true documentary, it is still worth a watch as part of your Halloween festivities. This 1922 Scandinavian silent film shares the history of witchcraft through the use of some of the most frightening imagery ever recorded.
4. I Know What I Saw
Another aspect of Halloween that is often overlooked is that of UFOs and the existence of life on other planets. This documentary shares the accounts of credible UFO witnesses, opening the eyes of even some of the greatest sceptics to the possible existence.
5. Dreams of a Life
This documentary tells a tale that will send a shiver down the back of many viewers. Just imagine dying within your own home only to remain undiscovered for 3 years.
6. The Castle Project: Colorado’s Haunted Mansion
The idea of haunted houses is one that dominates Halloween related conversations. This documentary explores one of America’s real-life haunted houses.
7. The Smiley Face Killers
A real-life crime documentary, this tells the story of a group of sadistic serial killers associated with a string of unsolved murder cases.
8. Albert Fish: In Sin He Found Salvation
One of the most prolific serial killers, Albert Fish not only killed young children but he also ate them. This documentary provides a look inside his crimes.
9. The Mothman of Point Pleasant
There have been many accounts of a variety of different mythical creatures from Big Foot to the Loch Ness Monster. How many of these creatures genuinely existed? This documentary explores the truth behind the Mothman in West Virginia.
10. The Imposter
This documentary outlines the terrifyingly real experience of the disappearance of 13-year-old Nichols Barclay, a young boy who vanishes without a trace only to show up 3 ½ years later thousands of miles from home.
11. Interview with a Poltergeist
One of the most famous and talked about cases of ghosts and hauntings in the world, this documentary delves into the truth behind the Enfield Poltergeist.
12. Missing 411
It is not incredibly uncommon to turn on our news or boot up our computer to hear stories of people who have gone missing in the nations biggest cities, however, were you aware that loads of people go missing from our own national parks? Even more concerning is the mysterious and similar circumstances of their disappearance.
13. Hostage to the Devil
Did you know that the movie The Exorcist was actually inspired by a real priest? Explore his story and understand the truth behind the movie.
14. Killer Legends
While many urban legends are nothing more than ghost stories designed to scare us, this documentary shares the terrifying truth behind a number of well-known, and very real, urban legends.
Of those who have had UFO experiences, or believe in the existence of life on another planet there are many who are highly suspicious about the lack of proof. Is the government trying to cover it up?
16. In Search of Dracula
Are you in love with all things vampire related? This documentary delves into the history of vampires, providing you with a reminder of why these creatures have dominated horror movies for decades.
17. My Amityville Horror
Any true horror fan is familiar with the Amityville horror house, however, have you heard the true story of what really happened within its walls?
18. The Institute
If you have ever found yourself looking for a documentary that will challenge all that you believe to be real, here it is!
19. The Cheshire Murders
A frighteningly random and horrific case, this true-crime documentary will explore the details of the case.
Often seen as nothing more than a Staten Island urban legend, allow this documentary to expose you to its frightening truth.
21. Haunted State: Whispers from History Past
It has been stated that Wisconsin holds claim to the title of the highest rate of ghosts per square mile in the United States. Don’t believe it? This documentary will explore whether or not this claim is rooted in truth.
22. Beware the Slenderman
The legend of Slenderman was that of a modern-day urban legend, a tale shared over bonfires to scare your friends. This was until this very legend drove two young girls to commit murder.
23. The Nightmare
There are few phenomena as frightening as that of sleep paralysis. This documentary will explore the concept and whether or not it actually exists.
24. H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer
The first serial killer to victimize the United States, this documentary explores the crimes of H.H. Holmes and his torture chamber in Chicago.
25. Real Fear: The Truth Behind the Movies
Time and time again we hear movies being released and marketed with that all so exciting line – Inspired by a true story. Have you ever taken the time to learn the real story behind the movies? This documentary explores just that.