Hollywood loves making movies about movies. Every year when Oscar season rolls around, there’s at least one in there: a biopic about a silver screen star like My Week With Marilyn, a comedy about a down and out actor like Birdman, or an ode to the industry itself like La La Land. Hollywood does not seem to the hold the same affection for documentaries about movies, and it’s no wonder why.
Documentarians can dive into a film, giving audiences unprecedented looks at the making of a film, or the cultural impact from its release, and it’s not always positive. Having your behind the scenes drama exposed or your failed film analyzed isn’t fun for anyone, except us audiences.
Find out all about the movie industry’s hidden secrets with these 5 can’t miss documentaries about movies we’ve compiled…
Room 237 (2012)
Do you love The Shining? I bet you think you do, but once you watch Room 237 you’ll realize you definitely don’t love it as much as these people do. If you’re looking for answers, behind the scenes info or critical analysis of the film, you’re in the wrong place.
Room 237 is about fan obsession and how people interpret films. Different fans of The Shining describe their theories on what the movie really means, and how they’ve analysed the film to get to that conclusion. One person thinks it’s about Native American genocide, while another thinks there are clues in the film that proves director Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing.
It’s out there, but it’s fascinating to hear.
Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013)
Alejandro Jodorowsky never made Dune, so this isn’t technically a documentary about a movie — it’s a documentary about a movie that could have been. Jodoroswky wanted his 12-year-old son to star with a supporting cast that included Salvador Dalí, Orson Welles, and Mick Jagger. He also wanted H.G. Geiger to work on the effects, Dan O’Bannon to do the script and Pink Floyd to supply the soundtrack.
Seriously! It would have been batshit insane, the kind of out there pulpy sci-fi that would have divided audiences but become a cult classic. Unfortunately, it was too ambitious and too expensive to ever have been made, but as recounted by film insiders and Jodorowsky himself, it sounds incredible.
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010)
You have to be a hardcore fan of Nightmare on Elm Street to sit through all four hours of Never Sleep Again, but it’ll be worth it. The documentary chronicles the entire series (minus the remake, which we all pretend never happened). It’s one of the most extensive documentaries about a film you will ever watch: there’s concept art and materials from the making of the films, behind the scenes info about the series, plus analysis on each film, how the series as a whole affected pop culture and horror, real-life nightmares and experiences from the cast and crew, and the story of New Line Cinema, the studio behind the films.
There’s interviews with just about everyone involved with the franchise, including major players Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp (who also serves as narrator and producer) and the late great Wes Craven.
Best Worst Movie (2009)
“They’re eating her… and then they’re going to eat me! Oh my gooddddddddddd!”
Even if you haven’t seen Troll 2, you’ve probably seen that clip on YouTube or heard it referenced in a “worst movie of all time” conversation. Best Worst Movie is the brainchild of Troll 2’s star, Michael Stephenson, who learned about the film’s cult status from Myspace, of all places. Stephenson had been embarrassed by the film for years before learning about its ironic fans and infamy, and he embraced the weird level of fame that came with it.
This one is recommended viewing, especially if you plan of checking out The Disaster Artist later this year. Which one really is the best worst movie of all time, Troll 2 or The Room?
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991)
Apocalypse Now is considered one of the greatest movies of all time, but some devoted cinephiles (like Abed from Community) will argue that Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse is even better. The documentary uses behind the scenes footage from Apocalypse Now, with filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and actors Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall all trying to survive the disastrous shoot.
The doc shows how the film quickly spiraled out of control: they went way over budget, Sheen had a breakdown and suffered a heart attack, Coppola essentially went mad, and an overweight and unprepared Brando rambles his way through the shoot. Despite all that, they managed to make a film that is often considered a masterpiece.
Don’t forget to check out 78/52, a new documentary about Psycho’s iconic shower scene, in cinemas this month.