A Different Kind of Horror: 3 Netflix Documentaries

Hello all. Apologies for the delay between posts. I’ve had a busy couple months. First the holidays and then a trip to central and eastern Europe–lots of potential stories there–along with a move can take up most of your time. I’ve also been working on the sequel to That Which Should Not Be and He Who Walks in Shadow. By all rights, that book should have been done a year ago, but I ran into a bit of a wall that I only really broke through in Bratislava. So yay to Slovakia, right?

Anyway, if you know me at all you know that I’m a sucker for documentaries. Good thing we are in a bit of a documentary golden age, with Netflix leading the way. Out now are three documentaries, all horrific in their own way, that I want you to go check out. The first is

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

Ted Bundy is the all-American psychopath. Suave, intelligent, and yes, some would say attractive, Bundy set the stereotype for the murdering psychotic who feels no remorse and no emotion. Just as disturbed as Dahmer or Gacy, Bundy hid that madness behind a telegenic, engaging personality that made him all the more dangerous. In this documentary, Netflix tells the story of Bundy’s multi-state murder spree with an assist from Bundy himself. Historic footage is overlaid with Bundy’s voice, narrating the story as it goes along. There may be times you even start to buy some of Bundy’s BS. But then you see his eyes, those awful, soulless eyes. The documentary also serves as a strong argument for the death penalty, at least in extreme circumstances like these, and demonstrates that defense attorneys truly believe that no one should be found guilty of anything.

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

Now for something completely different though perhaps equally insane, albeit with no body count (by the grace of God). Fyre tells the story of the infamous Fyre Festival, that absolute disaster of a music festival that unfolded in the Bahamas in the spring of 2017. More than anything, the Fyre documentary encompasses the notion of magical thinking, the idea that things will just work out, somehow, and everything will be fine, even without a plan or any conceivable path to success. The film interviews many of the people involved behind the scenes of the disaster, and everyone of them says, at least once, that they just kept doing what they were doing and hoped it would be OK. Why would it work out? Well it’s a mystery. The only guy who seemed interested in solving problems was the random pilot who got fired for suggesting they would need a lot of toilets. Another thing that struck me is how everyone in film kept referring to a mysterious “they” or “them” that were responsible for everything going wrong at the festival. Obviously Billy McFarland deserves much of the blame, but so do the people on our screens, people who consistently enabled him for the same reason he kept the fraud going–money.

Murder Mountain

Murder Mountain is a documentary that enlightened me to something I had no idea existed–Humboldt County, California, a county in rebellion against all forms of government where apparently a large portion of the nation’s marijuana is grown. Alongside do-gooder hippies are the more ruthless and cutthroat growers, those who stay on the black market even as legalization spreads. These hard core drug traffickers act like it, and because of their actions, the number of people missing in Humboldt County is far higher than the norm. The documentary focuses on one missing person in particular, and how the locals handled the situation when the sheriff’s office seemed uninterested. And by the way, if there’s one group of people who stumbled into the viral villain of the month category, it’s the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. I assume that as more people see Murder Mountain, you’ll be hearing a lot more about them as well.

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