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Docs To Watch: To Scare Your Socks Off!

Thursday 22 October, 2020

With Halloween right around the corner, we’ve prepared a list of must-see documentaries to watch to get you in the mood for the occasion. We’ve picked testimonies to The Shining and Ghostbusters, a doc that illuminates the history of black horror, and other docs that are sure to scare your socks off.

Here’s our selection of the best docs to watch in the run up to October 31st.

ROOM 237, dir. Rodney Ascher / 2012 / 102 mins

Frequently cited as one of the greatest filmmakers in cinematic history, Stanley Kubrick’s influence on cinema is far-reaching. Rodeny Ascher’s documentary is an exploration of various interpretations of one of Kubrick's best known films, ‘The Shining’ (1980), a psychological horror that is truly a classic of the genre.

You can watch the film on Amazon Prime or YouTube.

THE NIGHTMARE, dir. Rodney Ascher / 2015 / 90 mins

★★★★ "A nonfiction film more frightening than most of today's narrative horror films." - Guardian

"Rodney Ascher's 'The Nightmare' is one of the scariest documentaries ever." - Indiewire

Imagine if every time you got into bed and began to drift off your body locked up, totally frozen. But you are not asleep. You can see and hear everything and that's when the shadow men come.

Rodney Ascher (Room 237) meets eight sufferers of sleep paralysis and discovers the terror that awaits them when they fall asleep each night. In this documentary-horror film we experience the terror that a surprisingly large number of people suffer when they find themselves trapped between the sleeping and waking worlds every night. Using dramatic reconstructions, compelling first-hand accounts and slick cinematic trickery, The Nightmare will entertain, educate and completely petrify.

You can watch the film on Amazon Prime.

CANIBA, dir. Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel / 2017 / 92 mins

The Japanese Avant-garde and Experimental Film Festival is proud to present the UK premiere of Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor's (Leviathan) Caniba – the latest project from the innovative Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab.

Caniba invites viewers to spend 90 minutes in the company of the infamous cannibal Issei Sagawa who, in 1981, murdered and partially ate a fellow student whilst studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. Due to a ruling of insanity by a French court and legal technicalities in Japan, Sagawa was allowed to return to his native country a free man, where he continues to make a living from his macabre celebrity.

Paravel and Castaing-Taylor’s documentary is a stylistically experimental and thematically challenging viewing experience. Shot in unbroken takes and extreme close-ups, the audience is forced to look into an abject abyss. Revulsion might be expected from this encounter, but more disturbing is to recognise Sagawa’s humanity, or to empathise with him. Such was the case when Caniba screened at the Venice Film Festival: it was a controversial screening, but the film walked off with the Special Orizzonti Jury Prize.

You can watch the film on Kanopy.

CLEANIN’ UP THE TOWN: REMEMBERING GHOSTBUSTERS, dir. Anthony Bueno / 2019 / 90 mins

“You never know in this business how long something is going to last” marvels Dan Aykroyd. Indeed some thirty-five years after its premiere, the surprise hit film Ghostbusters continues to enchant fans. Cleanin’ Up the Town is the definitive behind-the-scenes look at the creative process that brought the film to life, including a deep dive into the visual effects which were far ahead of their time.

Touching on everything from the casting process to the ginormous Stay Puff Marshmallow Man, it’s clear that those involved look back in fondness on the production. Twelve years in the making, and featuring interviews with Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, director Ivan Reitman and the late great Harold Ramis, this is a must see for any Ghostbusters fan.

You can watch the film on Amazon Prime.

HORROR NOIRE: A HISTORY OF BLACK HORROR, dir. Xavier Neal-Burgin / 83 mins

Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilised, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, this is the untold history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre.

You can watch the film on Amazon Prime or direct on Shudder.