Making a Murderer, the true crime documentary about the possibly wrongful conviction of Steven Avery in the horrific murder of 25-year-old Teresa Halbach, has been a runaway hit for Netflix, with even the CEO of the streaming video giant saying he’s been shocked by the “explosive” success of the 10-part series.
But Making a Murderer is only one of numerous gripping and often shocking true crime documentaries streaming right now on Netflix and other services. The Inquisitr recommended five powerful documentaries for true crime fans in an earlier article that can be read by clicking on this link.
Now, here are five more must-watch films chronicling incredible true tales of justice and injustice.
AN UNREAL DREAM: THE MICHAEL MORTON STORY
The day after his 32nd birthday, in 1986, Michael Morton was arrested for the murder of his wife Christine, who was found in her home by a neighbor, beaten to death. Though there were no witnesses, no murder weapon, no motive, and no record of violence in Morton’s past — that day was the start of 25-year “unreal dream” for Morton.
He was not released from prison until 2011, at the age of 57.
Like other documentaries about wrongly convicted people, An Unreal Dream lays out the evidence for Morton’s innocence — and for the guilt of another man who was eventually arrested for killing both Christine and another woman two years later. But what sets this film, originally produced for CNN, apart is the heartbreaking detail in which it brings to life the extraordinary human consequences of a corrupted judicial process. Despite the gut-wrenching travesty of justice that is Morton’s story, however, An Unreal Dream somehow concludes with a note of hope.
An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story is streaming now on both Netflix and Amazon Prime.
In the heyday of New York tabloid journalism, when the city had seven daily newspapers competing for the most sensational, circulation-pumping stories, few tabloid tales drew more intense curiosity than the story of Burt Pugach and his lover, Linda Riss. For those who may have never heard the story — or simply forgotten the bizarre details — to reveal almost anything about this 2007 documentary would be giving away major spoilers.
Suffice to say, Pugach — a well-to-do if somewhat shifty “ambulance chasing” attorney in 1957 when he met Riss — would today probably be diagnosed with a variety of personality disorders, including sex addiction. But in those days, he was simply considered an eccentric playboy.
Just how eccentric, Riss would find out in shocking fashion. But that’s far from the final twist in this tale that unfolds with the fascination of a slow-motion car crash.
Crazy Love is streaming now on Netflix, or with a subscription to Sundance Doc Club.
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Filmmaker Joshua Zeman set out to investigate an urban legend told by children in his native Staten Island, New York — the legend of “Cropsey,” a boogeyman who lives in the woods emerging only to kill children. But this urban legend became a tragic reality when a series of children disappeared from Staten Island, in an area around a notorious, abandoned mental hospital that was once the subject of a now-classic exposé of the horrific conditions inside.
A homeless “drifter” named Andre Rand (pictured at top of this page), who had worked at the hospital, was arrested in connection with the apparent abductions — though the body of only one child was ever located, and that one appeared to have been moved and reburied. Was Rand a lone pedophile and killer? Was he part of a Satanic cult? Or was some other sinister force at work?
Watch the trailer for Cropsey below, to get a more complete synopsis of the strange tale.
Cropsey is not only a fascinating crime story, but also a strangely loving portrait of a place, Staten Island, which is as much a character in the tale as Rand himself.
Cropsey is now streaming on Netflix and on the free movie service, SnagFlims.
SHADOW OF DOUBT
Wealthy socialite Susan Neill-Fraser is serving 25 years in prison for the 2009 murder of her longtime partner, physicist Bob Chappell, allegedly by beating him to death with a wrench on board the couple’s yacht then dumping his body into the water where it was never recovered. For that matter, neither was any wrench.
Is Neill-Fraser a coldly calculating killer as the police in Tasmania, Australia, continue to maintain? Or is her conviction, as some experts have called it, the worst miscarriage of justice in Australian history?
There’s no shadow of doubt about where this mesmerizing documentary stands on that question.
Shadow of Doubt is streaming now for a $3.99 rental fee on iTunes.
A MURDER IN THE PARK
Convicted double-murderer Anthony Porter was just two days short of his date with a lethal injection when he was suddenly given a stay. A few months later, Porter was released from prison entirely, thanks to a Northwestern University journalism professor who guided his students in an investigation designed not only to prove Porter’s innocence, but also to convict another man, Alstory Simon, of the 1982 murders that sent Porter to death row in the first place.
But nothing was as it seemed. Porter, as it apparently turned out, was the killer all along, and Simon — who took his place in prison — was an innocent man, threatened and tricked into confessing by an unscrupulous private investigator working for the journalism professor who put creating the story ahead of reporting the story.
But there is much more to the tale, spelled out in this compelling documentary in which the chief injustice is committed not by the police, but by a journalist and his colleagues in the media.
Watch the trailer for A Murder in the Park for an in-depth look at the film.
Like the other true crime documentaries in this article, A Murder in the Park is streaming now — for a rental fee on iTunes. But on February 17, the film becomes available for streaming on the Showtime Network apps.
[Featured Photo via Cropsey Publicity Still]