People Are Strange
Truth is not only stranger than fiction, it also often makes for bloody brilliant documentary films that make their fictional cousins look vapid and dull in comparison. Some documentary filmmakers have have chosen subjects so bizarre and esoteric you wouldnt have thought anybody would want to watch them, until you see them and realise that the extraordinary exists in the ordinary world around us.
From rockumentaries about vile musicians to a man creating grizzly bear proof armour, welcome to a wonderful world of oddness.
50. Anvil: The Story Of Anvil (2008)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Gervasi first met the band in 1982 after a London gig, and became their roadie for three of their mid-80s tours. They nicknamed him Teabag.
49. Bowling For Columbine (2002)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Not only do we learn that you can get a free gun by opening a bank account, theres also that unsettling cameo from Charlton Heston.
48. Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter Jr (1999)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Leuchter actually had no qualifications for the work he carried out in the prisons--a fact that the prisons werent bothered about.
47. The Sweetest Sound (2001)
You Couldnt Make It Up: When a lady on the street is asked what the name Alan makes her think of, her reply is fat. Poor Alan.
46. Thoth (2002)
You Couldnt Make It Up: As a child, Thoth created his own language--and country.
45. Lemmy (2010)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Before hed let the directors film him frying chips, Lemmy made them first clean his kitchen for him. Sheesh.
44. Senna (2010)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Both Senna and Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger died at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix while competing in different events.
43. Hated (1994)
Couldnt Make It Up: See Allin run! And drink! And shit! This is a no-holds-barred expose that shows the lengths to which Allin would go to shock the world.
42. Dancing Outlaw (1991)
You Couldnt Make It Up: When he was arrested in 2009, White was bonded out by MTV, who had just released a new documentary about him.
41. The Emperors Naked Army Marches On (1987)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Kenzo got a reputation after he protested against Emperor Showas war crimes by slinging steel pinballs at him.
40. Tierische Liebe (1996)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Yes, that includes having dogs and other domestic critters as his bedfellows.
39. Tarnation (2003)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Jonathans mother is a schizophrenic who underwent electroshock therapy in her youth.
38. Project Grizzly (1996)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Hurtubises project got such wide acclaim that it even went on to be pastiched in The Simpsons--in The Fat And The Furriest, Homers attacked by a bear and attempts to create a bear-proof suit.
37. Crumb (1994)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Zwigoff struggled to find the funds to make the film, and spent much of the six year shoot suffering from crippling depression.
36. Our Hitler: A Film From Germany (1977)
You Couldnt Make It Up: The doc is broken up with strange little recitals from people who came into contact with Hitler, all of whom seem to think theyre in a childrens program.
35. Cane Toads: The Conquest (2010)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Dogs get high by licking the toads backs. Eating them, though, can prove fatal.
34. Lost In La Mancha (2002)
You Couldnt Make It Up: On the first day of shooting in the Bardenas Reales area of Spain, filming was ruined by NATOs aircraft target practice. The second day didnt improve matters--the production had to combat a flash flood.
33. Beyond The Mat (1999)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Jake The Snake Roberts puts Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler to shame, smoking crack cocaine and bragging about his numerous sexual encounters while on tour.
32. Burden Of Dreams (1982)
You Couldnt Make It Up: The problems Herzog encountered on the film are endless, from losing his lead actors (Jason Robards and Mick Jagger), to getting caught in the middle of a war between Peru and Ecuador.
31. Lake Of Fire (2006)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Former Presbyterian minister Paul Hill goes on film saying that all abortionists should be executed, then kills a Florida doctor (and his bodyguard) for the abortions that he carried out.
30. Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)
You Couldnt Make It Up: You couldnt, but Aileen can. The most fascinating part of Broomfields doc is watching Aileens mercurial stories shifting and changing as she re-tells them.
29. Microcosmos (1996)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Want to see snails mating? Youll get it right here. It looks squishy.
28. Grizzly Man (2005)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Treadwells death was captured on audio tape. Herzog admitted to listening to it, but decided not to use it in the finished film.
27. A Hole In The Head (1998)
You Couldnt Make It Up: People in the UK, the US and the Netherlands believe that by undergoing trepanation, they will experience increased brain blood volume and consequently improve their brain function.
26. Crazy Love (2007)
You Couldnt Make It Up: After the pair broke up, Ross was blinded by thugs who threw lye in her face. Pugach was the one who paid the thugs to do it. When he got out of jail for the crime, the pair got back together.
25. Hell House (2001)
You Couldnt Make It Up: The performance generally involves depictions of sin, damnation and Hell--all incredibly viscerally. Doesnt sound very churchlike.
You Couldnt Make It Up: Most of the subjects of the documentaries watch at least five films a day, and between 600 and 2,000 a year.
23. Super Size Me (2004)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Spurlock consumed an average 5,000 calories per day while dining at the fast food restaurant. He also suffered from mood swings and sexual dysfunction.
22. A Certain Kind of Death (2003)
You Couldnt Make It Up: So what happens to them? Well, their assets all go to the local officials, and are controlled by bureaucrats who sell them off in order to pay for the bodys burial.
21. Religulous (2008)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda believes he is the Second Coming. Jose explains how Christs bloodline travelled from the Holy Land to France, then Spain and finally to Puerto Rico. Make of that what you will.
20. Into The Abyss (2011)
You Couldnt Make It Up: One of Herzogs interviewees discusses being stabbed, shot at and more--and somehow surviving. Jaws will drop.
19. Home Movie (2001)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Just one of the many odd couples, Diana and Ed Peden are hippies who create an underground retreat out of an abandoned missile silo. Creative.
18. Catfish (2010)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Ah, that would spoil the films final twist. Just watch it for yourself--you wont be disappointed.
17. Presumed Guilty (2008)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Antonios conviction was predicated entirely on one mans testimony--and that man just so happened to be a relative of the murder victim. Meanwhile, Antonios defence and numerous witnesses were all completely ignored.
16. In The Realms Of The Unreal (2004)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Dargers crowning glory is his novel The Realms Of The Unreal, an illustrated manuscript that runs to 15,000 pages.
15. Grey Gardens (1975)
You Couldnt Make It Up: The Beales house was infested with fleas, cats and racoons, had no running water and was full of rotting rubbish.
14. Wisconsin Death Trip (1999)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Lesy discovers that from 1890 to 1900, the town of Black River Falls was subject to bouts of suicide, murder, hauntings, demonic possession and, er, arson.
13. My Best Fiend - Klaus Kinski (1999)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Youve heard it before, but its still shocking--Herzog threatened to shoot Kinski during filming of Aguirre, leading to the mother of all fall-outs.
12. Dream Tower (1994)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Despite around 100 students showing up to learn, hippies from Yorkville ended up seizing the building while drug-dealing bikers set up camp in the lobby.
11. Hands On A Hard Body: The Documentary (1997)
You Couldnt Make It Up: The prize for the contest is a Nissan Hardbody truck. Yes, a truck
10. Relics: Einsteins Brain (1994)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Whats the professor after? Well, Albert Einsteins brain, of course, which was apparently kept for research purposes after the mans death. Ick.
9. Perverse Preachers, Fascist Fundamentalists (1991)
You Couldnt Make It Up: The doc is made up of footage of things the evangelists did on film when they didnt realise they were being taped--that includes giving the camera the finger
8. The Moon And The Sledgehammer (1971)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Oh yeah, by the way, theyre living without any gas, running water or electricity. Rather them than us.
7. Dark Days (2000)
You Couldnt Make It Up: One of the underground dwellers lived underground for six years. Despite this, he isnt the longest resident--others in the community have lived there far longer.
6. Private Practices: The Story Of A Sex Surrogate (1986)
You Couldnt Make It Up: The filmmakers paid for the patients therapy in return for being allowed to film them. Not a bad deal if you ask us.
5. The Late Great Planet Earth (1979)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Amram and Forsberg actually seem to be taking themselves seriously
4. Mondo Cane (1962)
You Couldnt Make It Up: In just one of the films bizarre scenes, fishermen in the village of Raiputh, Malaysia get revenge on sharks by forcing sea urchins down their gullets.
3. Zoo (2007)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Pinyan ended up dying of peritonitis after having sex with a stallion.
2. Sick: The Life & Death Of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (1997)
You Couldnt Make It Up: Flanagan became an ambassador for BDSM, which he used as a therapeutic device to regain control over his body.
1. The Imposter (2012)
You Couldnt Make It Up: The imposter, Frdric Bourdin, has assumed at least 500 fake identities, often portraying himself as missing teenagers.