Although we have shared many feature films in the past from our collection with scary themes, mysteries and even exorcisms, this year we’re broadening the list to include documentaries as well. Each of the DVDs listed below includes some element of killing. Grab some popcorn, turn out the lights and enjoy these murderous tales:
The Killing of Mary Surratt PN 1997.K56 2009
In 1865, boardinghouse owner Mary Surratt was one of four Southern sympathizers who was tried, convicted and executed for conspiring to assassinate President Lincoln. Was Mary truly guilty of the crime, or just in the wrong place at the wrong time? This short film brings to life one of the most controversial trials in U.S. history, which resulted in the nation’s first execution of a women by the federal government.
Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart HV 6515.C37 2015
A small-town murder in New England became one of the highest-profile cases of the twentieth century. As the first fully televised court case, the Pamela Smart trial rattled the consciousness of America, but did the media circus prevent a fair trial? Pulsating with sex, drugs, betrayal, and murder the trial has inspired decades of TV shows, books, plays and movies including To Die For.
The Act of Killing HV 6322.3.I5 A283 2014
Acclaimed directors Werner Herzog and Errol Morris team up as executive producers to bring a chilling hallucinatory documentary experience by Joshua Oppenheimer to the screen. Death-squad leaders are challenged to reenact their real-life mass killing in the style of American films. Both hyper-realistic and surrealistic, this is not your typical documentary experience – not by a long shot.
Rashoman PN 1997.R37 2008
From renowned director Akira Kurosawa comes the tale of a man’s murder and his wife’s rape as seen from four different perspectives. Prolific actor Toshiro Mifune (Seven Samurai) delivers an amazing performance as the feral bandit who may (or may not) be guilty of the crimes. This film is a classic meditation on the nature of “truth” which is known as one of cinema’s greatest international narratives.
Brother’s Keeper HV 6533.N4 B76 2003
Praised as one of the most successful nonfiction films of all time, this documentary tells the story of the “Ward Boys”, four eccentrics who shared one dilapidated shack for over 60 years. Living in isolation without heat or running water they had virtually no contact with the outside world – until one brother is found dead in his bed. Another brother confesses to suffocating him as an act of mercy, but the townspeople believe the hermit an innocent victim of police abuse.
Witness HV 6534.N5 W46 2016
On March 13, 1964 Kitty Genovese is repeatedly attacked on a street in Queens. Soon after The New York Times reports the story on their front page declaring 38 witnesses watched the murder from their apartment windows – and did nothing to help. This documentary follows Kitty’s brother Bill as he seeks to uncover the truth, makes discoveries about the crime that transform his life, and define an era.
Three Sovereigns for Sarah PN 1992.8.F5 T57 2005
Three sisters are accused of witchcraft, nineteen people are hanged, an old man pressed to death, and hundreds of others suffer in jail cells in the late 1600’s. With dialogue taken from the original transcripts of the trails, and authentic period costumes, props, buildings and locations, this film is said to be the most accurate portrayal to date of the Salem Witch Trails.