Best True Crime Movies

With Snowtown–the Australian movie that’s based on the “bodies in barrels” serial murders–newly available for download (and man do Australians have a lot of true crime flicks going on), we thought it was a good time for a little random rundown on some awesome true crime films worth watching. Nothing like theme-streaming.

Here’s a shortlist that’ll make a weekend cave-in (with some hit pause time outs for Dorito-chip tacos) worth your while. Remember: You’re not an anti-social psychopath just because you’re watching a bunch of them commit brutal crimes onscreen. By yourself. For hours.

Animal Kingdom (2011)

Okay so it’s the first entry and, like our buddy Mike Daisey on This American LifeI’m already telling white lies for the sake of the “greater truth”. Whatevs. So this doesn’t exactly fit the bill for the true crime genre. Animal Kingdom is the fictionalized version of the 1980s war between Melbourne’s underworld and the city’s cops. Note: Dude who played Uncle Owen in Star Wars prequels, Joel Edgerton, is in the movie.

Snowtown (2011)

The Snowtown murders were the murders of 11 people in South Australia that took place between August 1992 and May 1999. The crimes were uncovered when the remains of eight victims were found in barrels of acid located in a building in Snowtown, South Australia in May 1999. A total of 4 people were arrested and charged for the crimes. Rotten Tomatoes says: ”It’s a bleak and brutal endurance test, but for viewers with the strength and patience to make it to the end, Snowtown will prove an uncommonly powerful viewing experience.”

Zodiac (2007)

Did you see this already? I hope you saw this already. Based on Robert Graysmith’s book (same title), Zodiac tells the story of the hunt for the serial killer known as “Zodiac”, who toyed the law with his code-written notes and left a slew of bodies in his wake. One of San Fran’s most famous unsolved crimes. With the ever-awesome Chloe Sevigny.

American Gangster (2007)

The movie centers on South Carolina gangster, Frank Lucas’ criminal career. Lucas made a mint smuggling heroin into the States from Vietnam on service planes returning from the Vietnam War. Movie stars Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

Helter Skelter (2004)

A remake of the 1976 version, the two-part, made-for-TV movie centers on the Manson family murders, and also delves into the connection between Manson and the Beach Boys. The flick stars Jeremy Davies as Mason and includes captivating Clea Duvall as Linda Kasabian. Shit got crazy with the Mason clan. Shee-it.

Donnie Brasco (1997)

Such a classic. Donnie Brasco, starring Al Pacino, Johnny Depp and Michael Madsen, is based on the real-life events of Joseph D. Pistone, an FBI agent who infiltrated the Bonanno crime family circa the 1970s, using the alias “Donnie Brasco”. Johnny Depp!

A Cry in the Dark (1988)


It’s not so much that this is an awesome movie as it’s a chance to make a reference to Seinfeld AND to say it turns out the dingo did eat her baybee. The movie chronicles the case of Azaria Chamberlain, a nine-week-old baby girl who disappeared from a campground in August 1980 and how her parents, Michael and Lindy, had to prove their innocence against a media storm determined to prove them culpable.

Deranged (1974)

Based on the story of the “Wisconsin Maniac”, Ed Gein, the movie stars Roberts Blossom. Blossom refused to discuss the movie after filming it, btw. Old school special effects courtesy of a young Tom Savini. Yeah, and on that subject, warning: Stuff happens with eyeballs in a B-movie bad and still really gross way.

 

What are your fave true crime flicks? Let us know in the comments below. 

Related on The Smoking Jacket:
Darth Vader’s Crime Spree
911 Stupidity, House Fire Idiocy, Semen Yogurt, and More 

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