Documentaries On Cults?

I’ve seen a handful, and most are very good. I just woke up from a nap, but once I get some caffeine, I’ll look some of them up.

“Holy Hell” is the only one I can remember at the moment after a quick search.

Wild Wild Country is good:

As is the HBO documentary on Scientology:

And for a more “fly on the wall” investigative feel in Louie Theroux’s documentary is entertaining:

I saw the first two, and I liked “Wild Wild Country” and a “fly on the wall” seems very interesting. Thank you.

Not strictly a cult, but the documentary “LuLaRich” about the LuLaRoe MLM scam has many of the same elements.

There are also a couple on the various streaming services about the Nixim cult. That seems another level of dark that I have no time for no time for, so I’ve not seen (generally my tolerance of dark subject matter has gone down a lot as I’ve got older).

Likewise for Waco Branch Dividians (there was docudrama about that, on Netflix IIRC) and the Heavens Gate Cult.

The Netflix series Explained has an episode on cults (Season 2, I think).

It Takes a Cult about the Love Israel family. Despite the documentary’s title, not quite exactly a cult in the end, just a large extended hippie family with weird names. I knew a couple of them.

All of the above are good, and I’ll add Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults on HBO Max.

Amanda Montell has a book and a podcast about cults. I heard her on the Savage Love the other day, she sounded interesting and knowledgeable.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad documentary about Jim Jones/Jonestown. There’s quite a few out there. I couldn’t tell you which ones I have and haven’t seen.
Similarly, the Waco/David Koresh docs are typically really good as well. I’m not sure which one I watched most recently (Madmad or Messiah, maybe?) but it was IIRC, half reenactments and half interviews with survivors.

What I always find interesting about these, be it the Branch Dividians, Jonestown, Ma Anand Sheela/Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh or many of the others, is how much they videotaped themselves (and allowed those videos to remain in existence long enough for authorities to get them). I can only think that these people were so proud of what they were creating (or in Jim Jones’ case, so arrogant), that they really wanted to document it all for…reasons. And it never crossed their minds, at any point between starting to have a following in some random city up to the swat team knocking down the bunker door, that maybe what they were doing was wrong, or at least wrong in the eyes of outsiders and maybe they should destroy video evidence that will almost certainly be used against them.

Louis is one of my favorite investigative reporters going back to his Weird Weekend days. His dive into Scientology is hilarious and even a bit harrowing. Marty Rathbun’s participation is key and he proves to be a mercurial personality to say the least.

If you are interested, I would recommend a book by my late friend Mark Lane, who was there. The Strongest Poison.

+1 on Going Clear

Different types of cults? (Business)

Miniseries (tech)

On Prime
LulaRich is good. (Pyramid)
The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia (Errr…)
Off the Cuff is a good series or 30 min segments, I think. Cosplay, antitech, others

Not a “cult” per se, but a similar type of manipulation (only to more evil ends) was done by Charles Sobhraj as is depicted in the mini-series The Serpent (Netflix). You might find this interesting as well.
As I watched it, I was thinking “if his motivation wasn’t strictly ‘greed’, he could have been a cult leader”

The “star” of that movie, Jesco White, was the subject of a public TV documentary called “The Dancing Outlaw”. I don’t know if you can find the whole thing online, but I love this trailer with him tap dancing across a bridge with his boom box blasting out “If You Want To Get To Heaven”

The Source Family–it used to be on Netflix. I saw a screening of it in LA some years ago.
Really fascinating story.

Excellent points. I’ve seen a few Jonestown ones, can’t remember the names, but they were all good.

Another great point about how much the incriminate themselves on record! Intentionally! Not some hidden microphone, but video.

I remember one woman, I think from “Wild Wild Country” who said “Tough Titties”, and somehow it made the trends on the internet, and it’s probably why I watched it.

I’m always curious about initial intentions, and for those who change with the power going to their head. It could be as easy as being loved by all the women for being “the man” and suddenly the man feeling a bit frisky, and going with a woman who’s around, which creates jealousy, and a pyramid of competition.