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7 True Crime Documentaries to Watch After THE TED BUNDY TAPES
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Everyone is talking about Ted Bundy. Almost 30 years to the date of his execution in prison, the serial killer is back in the news thanks to two different projects: the documentary series Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes which hit Netflix last week, and Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil, and Vile, the biographical thriller starring Zac Efron that premiered at Sundance over the weekend. Both projects have sparked both interest and controversy, with some finding a new fascination with the “handsome” killer and others repulsed by the constant story cycles about men who kill.

Or maybe you’re merely drawn to stories about the dark corners of society, be that murder, false convictions, mental illness, or anything else that simply shouldn’t have to make sense and yet still dictates so much of the ways human navigate their lives. Whether you’re just getting into true crime or are merely looking for a new binge, here are eight documentaries and documentary series to watch after Bundy.

Paradise Lost

One of the most impactful true crime documentaries of all time, this three-part movie series actually led to the release of three young men charged with murder in Arkansas in the early ’90s. The men became known as the West Memphis Three, and were arrested and convicted, with two sentenced to life in prison and one sentenced to death. They were accused on barely any evidence, in the middle of the Satanic Panic that haunted the country in the ’80s and ’90s. The popularity of these films led to a renewed interest in the crime, and the gaps in logic for their arrests led to a unique plea that saw them all released from prison in 2011. It’s a long, sad story, but the Paradise Lost trilogy is one of the most important documentaries out there.
Where to watch: HBO Now

Evil Genius

I was completely unfamiliar with this crime until Netflix released a 4-part series about it in 2018. It follows a man, Brian Wells, who committed a bank robbery back in 2003 with a bomb attached to his body, indicating he was forced to do it by someone else. The tale that unfolds is unlike anything you’d expect, and all comes back to one mysterious woman – Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong – who may have been the mastermind, or possibly a victim herself.
Where to watch: Netflix

Inside the Manson Cult: The Lost Tapes

This documentary is the easiest to compare to The Ted Bundy Tapes since it follows a similar format. Tapes recorded with various members of the Manson Family were uncovered and used to document the history of the cult’s formation and rise to gory glory, and beyond. For the Manson obsessive, there isn’t much new to be gleaned from this 2018 series, but if you’re a novice, it offers a fascinating look into one of the most notorious American crime stories of all time.
Where to watch: Hulu

Mommy Dead and Dearest 

After a BuzzFeed article about Dee Dee Blancharde and her daughter Gypsy went viral, it was inevitable that a documentary would follow. And boy, what a story this is, about an obsessive and mentally ill woman and the pain she foisted on her young daughter – who had no choice (or did she?) to retaliate. The film offers a terrifying look at Munchausen by proxy, an illness only recently getting more exposure in media like Sharp Objects. It’s a sad story but a compelling one.
Where to watch: HBO Now

The Staircase

This series has a long history, first appearing in abbreviated form on Primetime Thursday in 2004, then in full on French channel Canal+ in 2005, and then in updated form – with brand new episodes – on Netflix in 2018. It documents Michael Peterson, accused of murdering his wife by bludgeoning her and pushing her down a staircase. During his trial, he moves to Germany, where a family friend dies in the same manner. It’s a bizarre, winding case, and Peterson makes for a fascinating central figure.
Where to watch: Netflix

Beware the Slenderman 

We all know the story. Two preteen girls lure their best friend into the woods and attempt to stab her to death as a sacrifice for the Slenderman, an internet myth with no baring on reality who they’ve somehow come to worship. But Beware the Slenderman digs deep into the crime, focusing on the perpetrators and their families, and how mental illness cuts deeply through generations.
Where to watch: HBO Now

Abducted in Plain Sight

I honestly don’t want to say anything about the plot of this one because it is so bizarre, so twisted, so edge-of-your-set-what-the-hell that spoiling it doesn’t even feel like an option. I will say only that the documentary follows Jan Broberg and her disturbing relationship with family friend Robert Berchtold, who was 30 years her senior. It deals with squicky stuff, so be warned about that. Also be warned that you will likely sit in disbelief for several minutes after the credits roll.
Where to watch: Netflix

Image: Netflix