13 Chilling True Crime Documentaries To Keep You Up At Night

Keep the lights on.

1. The Staircase

Maha Productions / Via documentarystorm.com

The case: In 2001, Kathleen Peterson was found dead at the bottom of the staircase in the home she shared with her husband, Michael Peterson. Peterson’s injuries (severe, and possibly consistent with blunt force trauma) and a string of suspicious behaviors by Peterson led to his arrest on suspicion of murder. The documentary (by award-winning filmmaker Jean-Savier de Lestrade) follows the trial, which unfolds in a series of increasingly shocking revelations and perplexing twists.

Is it streaming? No; you can buy the DVDs on Amazon or watch on iTunes.

2. Crazy Love

Magnolia Pictures / Via imdb.com

The case: If you don’t already know the story, it’s best to watch it without looking it up first. Crazy Love is a slow burn; you have to wait for it. The film is about the relationship between Burt and Linda Pugach, a whirlwind young romance that takes a, uh, *really* crazy turn.

Is it streaming? Yes, you can watch it on Netflix Instant.

3. The Imposter

24 Seven Productions / Via imdb.com

The case: In 1994, a 13 year-old Texan boy named Nicholas Barclay disappeared. Three years later, he (or someone claiming to be him) surfaced — in Spain.

Is it streaming? Yes, you can watch it on Netflix Instant.

4. The Thin Blue Line

American Playhouse / Via altfg.com

The case: This 1988 documentary by Errol Morris argued that Randall Dale Adams, sentenced to life in prison for killing police officer Robert W. Wood, was wrongfully convicted.

Is it streaming? Yes, you can watch it on Netflix Instant.

5. There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane

HBO / Via imdb.com

The case: In 2009, Diane Schuler (widely regarded by friends and family to be a happy, upstanding citizen and a devoted wife and mother), driving her son and daughter and her three nieces home from a camping trip, began driving the wrong way on Taconic State Parkway in upstate New York. Schuler collided head-on with an oncoming SUV, killing everyone but her 5 year-old son. Despite apparent sobriety upon leaving the campground, and insistence from friends and family that she did not drink or use drugs to excess, toxicology reports found a blood alcohol level of 0.19 and high levels of THC.

Is it streaming? Yes, you can watch it on Vimeo.

6. The Central Park Five

Florentine Films / Via imdb.com

The case: In 1989, amidst an atmosphere of heightened racial tensions, five teenagers (four of whom were black and one, Latino) were tried and convicted for the rape of a white female jogger in New York’s Central Park. The men served between 6 and 13 years in prison before Matias Reyes, a convicted serial rapist then serving a life sentence for other crimes, confessed to committing the crime — alone.

Is it streaming? Yes, you can watch it on Netflix Instant.

7. The Paradise Lost Trilogy

The case: In 1993, three 8 year-old boys were killed in West Memphis, Arkansas, in what was originally considered to be a case of Satanic ritual murder. Three teenagers — Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. — were tried for the crimes, and eventually convicted, largely on the strength of a confession from Misskelley (obtained after 12 hours of questioning, and later recanted) and a number of rumors about the teenagers’ involvement with the occult. Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison, and Echols to death; the trilogy of films follows the original trials, subsequent appeals (along with widespread public doubt as to the guilt of the West Memphis Three, as they came to be known), and the inmates’ 2011 release.

Is it streaming? Yes, you can watch it on Amazon Prime.

8. Into The Abyss

Creative Differences Productions / Via imdb.com

The case: Written and directed by Werner Herzog, the film follows Michael Perry, a death row inmate convicted of murdering a nurse, and strongly suspect of having killed two other people in Conroe, Texas. The triple homicide was thought to have been done in service of stealing a car for a joyride. The film interviews Perry, along with victims’ families and law enforcement, in the weeks before his 2010 execution.

Is it streaming? Yes, you can watch it on Netflix Instant.

9. Dear Zachary

MSNBC Films / Via imdb.com

The case: After the murder of Andrew Bagby — allegedly at the hands of his ex-girlfriend, Shirley Jane Turner, whom he’d just broken up with — his friend, Kurt Kuenne, the film’s creator, learned that Turner was pregnant with her and Bagby’s son. Originally intended as a “cinematic scrapbook” of memories of Bagby, intended for his son, the film becomes a more traditional true-crime documentary as the events surrounding Turner’s arrest take a tragic turn.

Is it streaming? Yes, you can watch it on Netflix Instant.

10. Cropsey

Antidote Films / Via imdb.com

The case: “Cropsey” was the name given a bogeyman legend told to keep kids out of the abandoned buildings of the Willowbrook Mental Institute on Staten Island, and this film explores the line between this embellished cautionary tale and the real-life disappearances of five young children — all thought to be linked to a “shadowy drifter” named Andre Rand.

Is it streaming? Yes, you can watch it on Netflix Instant.

11. Zoo

The case: This film is centered around the 2005 case of Kenneth Pinyan, who died after engaging in anal intercourse (and being filmed while doing so) with a horse. His case prompted the passing of a bill in Washington that prohibited sex with animals and the filming thereof. The film examines both Pinyan and others like him.

Is it streaming? No; you can buy it on Amazon.

12. Capturing the Friedmans

HBO Documentary / Via impawards.com

The case: This documentary focuses on the 1980s investigation of Arnold and Jesse Friedman (father and son, respectively), both of whom were subject to a federal sting operation after it was discovered that Arnold was receiving child pornography by mail. Suspicions heightened when it was learned that Arnold gave computer classes to young children out of his home. The film includes footage from home-videos taken by the Friedmans while they awaited trial.

Is it streaming? No; you can buy it on Amazon or on iTunes.

13. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations With a Killer

HBO / Via amazon.com

The case: Richard Leonard Kuklinski was a serial killer (convicted of three murders and suspected of more, Kuklinski himself claims to have killed between 100-250 people) who was called “The Iceman” because he froze his victims to mask the time of death. This film comprises interviews Kuklinski (who died in 2006) done while incarcerated.

Is it streaming? Yes, you can watch it on Amazon Prime.

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

          
    Hot Buzz

    What’s Your Most Heartwarming Holiday Memory?

    collection

    What’s The Craziest Thing You’ve Done To Get Out Of A Date?

    collection
    Now Buzzing