ByVaria Fedko-Blake, writer at
Staff Writer at Moviepilot! [email protected] Twitter: @vfedkoblake
Varia Fedko-Blake

The world is a scary place, filled with terrifying human beings and situations that are truly the stuff of nightmares.

Thankfully, you don't have to experience both too often firsthand, as there is an entire team of dedicated filmmakers out there who are eager to document some of the most disturbing crimes, individuals, and psychological conditions among us. These seven harrowing documentaries aren't to be missed:

1. 'Interview with a Cannibal' (2011)

Japanese-born Issei Sagawa murdered one of his classmates in 1981, raping and dismembering her corpse and cannibalizing it for two days. This Vice documentary is a personal interview with the killer, trying to make sense of why he committed the crime. However, the most baffling aspect is the fact that he was deemed mentally unfit for trail, was committed to a mental institution, then allowed to walk free in 1986. Here's the full documentary:

2. 'Wisconsin Death Trip' (1991)

If you want a glimpse into life in Wisconsin in the late 19th century, this is the documentary for you. Don't expect to see pastoral images of the beautiful Midwest, though.

Instead, this black-and-white docudrama offers a terrifying look into life at the time, including various images of Victorian post-mortem photography, as well as examples of extreme poverty, raging madness, and violence amongst the local population. Here, suicide and murder is commonplace, and people are plagued by instances of "devil possession" and the supernatural:

3. 'Capturing the Friedmans' (2003)

In the 1980s, the Friedmans appeared to be an ordinary, well-to-do Jewish family living in Great Neck, New York. That is, until a police investigation discovered a world of child pornography and molestation lingering behind the happy facade. This is the story.

4. 'The Hammer Maniacs' (2010)

In 2010, a Chilean television channel chose to produce a documentary about the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs — two Ukrainian serial killers who gained notoriety in the summer of 2007. The two 19-year-olds were charged with 21 murderers, many of which they filmed and placed on the Internet.

The documentary contains some harrowing video recordings of their confessions, in which the killers admit that often robbery was the motive behind the attacks.

5. 'The Nightmare' (2015)

Have you ever suffered from night terrors? Well, although you may never fully experience them, you'll definitely struggle with nightmares after watching this documentary. Otherwise focused on the topic of sleep paralysis, the feature introduces eight people who suffer from the condition, making their nights a living hell. Watch the trailer below, if you dare:

6. 'Dr. Death: The Rise And Fall Of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.' (1999)

Dr. Death: The Rise And Fall Of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. is a documentary about the life and illustrious career of American execution device designer and controversial Holocaust denier Fred A. Leucter, Jr. Often hailed as the embodiment of evil, the man's morbid views of life will strike a chord with audiences, making this one of the strangest and most distressing documentaries you will ever watch. Here's the trailer:

7. 'Jesus Camp' (2006)

Released in 2006, documentary Jesus Camp follows the lives of kids who attend a Christian summer camp in the hope of becoming the next pint-sized version of well-known preacher Billy Graham. Focusing on a teacher who trains youngster to be in "God's Army" at a camp in North Dakota, we witness disturbing scenes of little ones dropping to the floor in evangelical ecstasy. Even more troubling though are the scenes of home-schooled children who believe that the Bible is science.

Which documentary will you be watching next?


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