10 Best Horror Documentaries | TheReviewGeek Recommends

10 Best Horror Movie Documentaries

True horror movie enthusiasts don’t just watch scary movies! They also delve into the making of the fright flicks they love to gain an insight into the origins of these films, along with behind-the-scenes facts, cast and director ruminations, and other pieces of information to give them a deeper understanding of the horror genre.

In this article, we have picked out 10 documentaries that we think horror movie fans will appreciate. From documentaries that hone in on particular movies to those that seek to examine particular aspects of this spine-tingling genre, our choices should whet the appetite of most horror movie fans. 

Do you agree with our picks? Have we failed to mention a documentary that you think deserves a place here? Let us know in the comments below.


Pennywise: The Story of IT (2021)

Long before Andy Muschietti scared the living daylights out of us with his two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s IT, a televised version of the author’s epic tome was released in 1990. Starring Tim Curry as Pennywise and a great cast of actors filling the shoes of both the junior and the adult incarnations of The Losers Club, this chilling mini-series from director Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween 3: The Season Of The Witch) was a mostly faithful adaptation of King’s celebrated work.

This documentary takes us back to the making of the mini-series, with behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew, and discussions about the titular monster and how Curry’s legendary portrayal has seared itself into the hearts and minds of horror fans and clown-phobics everywhere!

At over 2 hours long, everything you need to know about the 90s It adaptation is here, so consider this a worthy companion piece to the televised phenomenon that took us above and beneath the sewers of Derry, Maine. 


King On Screen (2022)

IT isn’t the only Stephen King novel that has made its way to the screen, of course. Over the years, many of his other books have been adapted into movies or TV series, but not always to great success. The Lawnmower Man, Thinner, and Graveyard Shift are just some of those movies that failed to do justice to King’s writing, but mercifully, there have been more hits than misses.

This recent documentary spends more time delving into the better adaptations of King’s works than the worst, with an insight into such classic movies as The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Shining. These movies are given the most screen time within this doc but many other adaptations, including The Dead Zone and Carrie, are also given a mention. 

From scenes of the author visiting the set of The Green Mile (he even pretends to get fried when sitting in one of the movie’s electric chairs) to interviews with the directors who adapted King’s novels (including Frank Darabont, Tom Holland, and Andy Muschietti), there is much here to please any fan of King and the adaptations of his works. 

You can read our thoughts on King On Screen here!


Crystal Lake Memories (2013)

Inspired by the critically acclaimed book Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th, this 6-hour+ documentary unmasks the history of Jason Voorhees and the making of all of the movies within the iconic Friday the 13th franchise

Combining hundreds of rare photographs, film clips, outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes, and interviews with the cast and crew who were a part of the films and television series, this epic documentary is the ultimate tribute to a film series that has been resurrected more times than the hockey-masked killer himself. 


In Search of Darkness (2019-2022)

If you’re a fan of 80s horror, then the 3 documentaries that make up the In Search of Darkness series are a must. Each doc is over 4 hours long so there is much to get your teeth into if you remember with fondness the horror movies from this era. 

Hundreds of movies are discussed within the 12-hour + total runtime, some of which you will be familiar with – The Fog, Friday the 13th, The Shining – and many of which you probably won’t. Have you heard of Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers? Or Cellar Dweller? Or Butcher Baker Nightmare Maker? If not, or if you have long-forgotten them, you’ll have the incentive to seek them out after learning more about them here. 


The 101 Scariest Horror Movie Moments Of All Time (2022)

In this Shudder Original series, horror filmmakers and genre experts dissect some of the greatest horror movies of all time, with a discussion of those scary movie moments that have given many of us nightmares over the years. 

Salem’s Lot, Candyman, The Witch, Dawn Of The Dead, and Phantasm are just a few of the movies under the spotlight, with a reflection on those scenes that have proved most terrifying to movie audiences. There are a few notable omissions, including the stairs scene from The Exorcist, but most of the moments that have freaked out horror fanatics are here, including the dream within a dream frights of An American Werewolf In London and the shocking birthday party death scene from The Omen.

You might not agree that every movie moment depicted here deserves a place on this list, especially if you are a hardened horror fan. But at the very least, you should find some enjoyment from the movie clips and interviews that are a part of this 8-episode countdown. 


Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019)

Based on the book “Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films From the 1890s to Present” by Robin R. Means Coleman, this incisive documentary sheds a spotlight on Black representation in the horror genre, with a reflection on how Black people were seen on screen in the early days of cinema through to the Blaxploitation flicks of the 1970s to the present day where such films as Get Out are put under discussion.

The doc features interviews with such Black horror filmmakers as William Crain (Blacula) and Ernest R. Dickerson (Tales From the Hood), as well as numerous Black actors, including Tony Todd (Candyman) and Keith David (The Thing), and the film critics and scholars who are able to draw comparisons of selected films with the historical events that inspired them.

As you’ll understand, this is more than a series of clips with an aim to please horror fans. This is a detailed look at how history has shaped Black representation on screen and how the films under discussion have impacted the thought processes of movie audiences.


Best Worst Movie (2009)

One of the worst horror movies of all time is Troll 2, a no-budget, amateurish monster flick about a vacationing family who discovers the town they are visiting is inhabited by cannibalistic goblins disguised as humans! It’s enough to make any of us rethink our holiday plans as well as our choices for movie night! 

The movie isn’t actually related to the 1986 film Troll. Its title was chosen to capitalize on that movie’s minor success but surprisingly, despite being an abomination of a picture, it is now more fondly remembered than that 80s slice of cheesy horror.

So, why do people like Troll 2, despite its poor quality? Well, they like it because of the hilariously bad dialogue, over-the-top acting, shoddy direction, and the laughable creature effects. Best Worst Movie looks at the making of the film and all of these elements as it charts its journey from being one of the worst films ever made to its current status as a cherished cult classic.

Sprinkled throughout the doc are interviews with the cast who talk about their involvement with the 1990 clunker as well as the movie’s fans who have embraced its overall silliness and the delightfully odd moments that have turned it into an unlikely classic! See the doc and then seek out Troll 2 if you haven’t yet had the pleasure/misfortune (delete as applicable) to lay your eyes on this ‘ best worst movie.’


Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary (2017)

One of author Stephen King’s most disturbing works of fiction is Pet Sematary, a grim and gruesome novel that famously scared the author himself while writing it. He likely echoed one of the book’s most famous lines – Sometimes dead is better – during the writing process. But he kept the novel alive anyway and released it onto his legion of fans who were probably as unnerved as he was by this story about a grieving father who brings his dead son back to life at the titular cemetery. 

To date, there have been two movie adaptations of the book, as well as a couple of spin-offs that had little to do with the original story. Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary, is a detailed look into the making of the 1989 movie, with interviews with its director Mary Lambert, members of the cast and crew, and the Maine locals who were witness to the film being made. 

Surprisingly, there isn’t any actual footage from the film within the documentary. This is because the rights to the footage lie with Paramount Pictures who presumably didn’t agree to release it to the directors of this doc. This doesn’t make their project any less interesting, however, as there is much here for fans of the film and the original source material to enjoy, including behind-the-scenes photos and a discussion of the filmmaking magic that brought the film to life. 


Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010)

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy explores the origins of ‘dream demon’ Freddy Krueger and the movie series that has been responsible for haunting our nightmares. 

With narration by Heather Langenkamp (who starred as Nancy in some of the films), we are taken behind the scenes of the Elm Street franchise and given insight into the making of the movies via interviews with the writers, directors, cinematographers, effects specialists, and actors who contributed to them. We are then plunged deeper into Freddy’s realm thanks to the behind-the-scenes footage, never-before-seen photos, and conceptual art that add to this definitive account of one of cinema’s most enduring boogeymen.

The Nightmare On Elm series of films diminished in quality after the first couple of entries as Freddy became a parody of his former self and less scary as the movies went on. Don’t let that put you off this detailed documentary though, especially if you’re a fan, as you’ll struggle to sleep if you know you have missed it.


Cursed Films (2020)

Cursed Films is a five-part documentary series which explores the myths behind some of Hollywood’s most notoriously ‘cursed’ films.

Among the films under discussion are The Exorcist, which was plagued with mysterious on-set accidents; The Crow, which was marred by the on-set death of its lead actor; and the Poltergeist movies that are rumoured to be connected with the untimely deaths of its two young cast members. 

Were these movies really cursed? The jury is still out on that one, but if you would like to learn more about the mysterious happenings that surrounded some of these film productions, the episodes of this doc will definitely intrigue (and disturb) you. 


So there we have it, our picks for the 10 best horror movie documentaries which should whet the appetite for most horror enthusiasts! Do you agree with our choices?  Let us know your favourite horror movie documentaries in the comments below!

 

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