Five Interesting Documentaries for a Variety of People

Documentaries are a genre of film that are either loved or hated by most. Personally, I love a good documentary that dives further into a topic I am intrigued by. Sure, I can read more about my favorite movie, band, or athlete. But hearing interviews by those close to the subject and seeing rare video footage is much more interesting. Recently, I watched five really good documentaries and I wanted to share my thoughts for those that may have an interest in any of these great films.

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film

Since it is the Fourth of July, let’s start this list off with a documentary looking at the evolution of the American horror film. Made in 2009, Nightmares in Red, White and Blue looks at the birth, rise, and evolution of American horror movies. Starting with early foreign horror films, the documentary shows how those films influenced American directors to make their own fright flicks. And then it shows the growth made by American directors as subgenres changed and the horror genre grew as time passed.

With a running time of 1 hour and 36 minutes, Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is an easy documentary to view and will be enjoyed by fans of horror movies. It is especially interesting seeing how the slasher subgenre was born and took over theaters across the country, only to eventually run out of steam. Narrated by Lance Henriksen and featuring interviews from Joe Dante, John Carpenter, George A. Romero, and more, Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is a documentary made for horror fans.
O.J.: Made in America

There has been no shortage of O.J. Simpson in the public’s eye lately. Earlier this year, Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, David Schwimmer, and John Travolta started in the FX series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. It was a stellar series and the acting was phenomenal, but the ESPN mini-series covered so much more ground. The five-part series, a part of ESPN’s 30 for 30 line of films, dug deep into the life of an American icon that eventually self-destructed. From his days at USC and in the NFL to his short-lived acting career and through his trial and beyond, this documentary is the most complete story of O.J. Simpson that there is.

Like almost every 30 for 30 film that ESPN has made, O.J.: Made in America is a phenomenal work of art that covers everything we wanted to know. It is split into five parts, so it will take a while to watch completely. But it is so riveting and filled with information that time will fly by while watching. This is a documentary that everyone can enjoy, even if you are not a sports fan. The story of Sinpson is so huge that it is more a sad piece of American history than it is a sports story.
The Resurrection of Jake the Snake

Wrestling fans of the 1980s and early 1990s are sure to remember Jake “The Snake” Roberts. He was one of the most popular professional wrestlers ever and will always be remembered for his great wrestling psychology and, of course, the snake he always brought to the ring. Roberts could have been so much greater than he already was, but demons began to possess Roberts and soon he was out of the wrestling business and slowly killing himself with alcohol and drugs. But before he could become another tragic wrestling story, his good friend and former wrestler Diamond Dallas Page stepped in.

Page had began his DDP Yoga program and wanted to repay Roberts for helping him break into the wrestling business. He took Roberts into his home and began what is known as the resurrection of Roberts. He helped a man on the verge of death turn his life completely around and reclaim his rightful place within the professional wrestling world. But it was not an easy task and The Resurrection of Jake the Snake documents every step along the way. Whether you love or hate professional wrestling, this documentary is worth the viewing. It is not a sports documentary. It is not a wrestling documentary. It is the story of a man’s life. From the heights of fame to the depths of addiction and the eventually rise to a healthy life, this documentary can be enjoyed by everyone.
We Are Twisted F***ing Sister

Fans of hard rock in the 1980s are sure to remember this band. Twisted Sister are the band responsible for giving us the hard rock anthems “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock” and also for giving us some of the strangest costumes of the time. But there is a deeper history of this band that is widely unknown by most. And throughout this 2 hour and 15 minute documentary, lead singer Dee Snider and other band members share this story.

From being thought of as a joke to being a regular bar band and eventually to signing a big record deal, Twisted Sister had been through it all. They lost band members, they toured the world, and they fought for everything they gained. The documentary is a little too long and drags by at certain times, but, as a fan of the band, it is a great, in-depth view at a band that was a big part of the music I was exposed to early on in life. We are Twisted F***ing Sister is a great look at the struggle to break through in the music industry.
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

Who remembers Cannon Films? Unless you remember their logo flashing across the screen on old VHS tapes back in the day, chances are you don’t. But have you ever seen Death Wish, Masters of the Universe, The Delta Force, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, or Superman IV: The Quest for Peace? Chances are you have seen at least one of these movies, even though they are not all good. But this documentary looks at Cannon Films, the company started by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, two Israelian men that focused on producing as many low-budget films as possible.

This documentary looks at Golan and Globus’ start in filmmaking in Israeli and their move to America, which started Cannon Films. And while the independent studio gave us mostly bad movies, some have lived on and gained a cult following. But the fun in this documentary is hearing how wild some of the stories behind the movies were. And at a running time of 1 hour and 46 minutes, Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films flies by and left me wanting more stories from the world of independent filmmaking.
Daryl Karpinski, Jr.