Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019, dir. Xavier Burgin)

An overview of black representation and industry participation in (mostly) US horror films. An excellent documentary, clear and straightforward, but with some weight to its ideas as well as being accessible to wider audiences. Plenty of clips, plus interviews with genre figures and academics. Recommended.

Here’s the trailer.

In Search of Darkness (2019, dir. David A. Weiner)

An overview of 1980s – mostly US mainstream – horror movies. Sacrificing depth for breadth, this lengthy (4-hour) documentary offers annual summaries and some thematic commentary. Light on analysis, but strong on genre industry interviews, this fan service-tastic offering acts as an elegy for late directors Stuart Gordon and Larry Cohen.

Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini (2019, dir. Jason Baker)

A documentary on the life and career of SFX legend and actor Tom Savini. Straightforward and positive overview, with plenty of supportive talking heads and clips from across Savini’s output. Everyone seems to like him, and he comes across well, though a little grit in the oyster might have produced something more valuable.

Fat Fiction [AKA Big Fat Lie] (2020, dir. Jennifer Isenhart)

An exploration of the failure in the US of the government advocating a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet. Clear and focused documentary that evidences the value of fat to diet, weight loss, and diabetes management. While its key messages are dietary, the links to Big Pharma and the food industries in promoting obesity-friendly foods and diet are well-made. Effective.

Wrinkles the Clown (2019, dir. Michael Beach Nichols)

The story of an online sensation: a clown you can pay to scare your children. Solid documentary (which flirts with the extent to which it might be fictional, an art project, or something else) that explores memes, contemporary media folk devils, coulrophobia, parenting, “behavioural services”, and more.

New Town Utopia (2018, dir. Christopher Ian Smith)

A documentary about the new town of Basildon in Essex, focusing on its modernist post-war architecture, the utopian ideas underpinning new towns, and social issues generated via unintended consequences. Hopeful in the ways it seeks positives, finding value in art, expression, and subcultures; there’s lots to appreciate here.

Filmworker (2017, dir. Tony Zierra)

A documentary about Leon Vitali, who turned from acting in Barry Lyndon – abandoning an established career – to become director Stanley Kubrick’s amanuensis from the mid-70s on. Fascinating case study of fan-worship and obsessions, of the tolls that they can take, and of the centrality of lived experience to cinematic legacy. Recommended.

Birth of the Living Dead [AKA Year of the Living Dead] (2013, dir. Rob Kuhns)

The making and impact of George A Romero’s 1968 horror film Night of the Living Dead. Genial documentary, focused on an interview with Romero himself plus genre stalwarts such as Larry Fessenden, making some straightforward though nevertheless valid points about the film’s counterculture origins and its social commentary, as well as on its genre status.

Feats First: The Life and Music of Lowell George (2015, dir. Eliot Riddle)

A documentary exploration of the life and music of Little Feat frontman Lowell George. Overlong and reverent but still engrossing overview of the career and life of George, linking him and Little Feat to the LA of the 60s and 70s. Niche, inevitably, but well-researched and with plenty of input from the likes of Van Dyke Parks.

An Accidental Studio (2019, dir. Bill Jones, Kim Leggatt & Ben Timlett)

The rise and fall of Handmade Films. Linear documentary – reliant on talking heads, clips, and archive interviews – charting George Harrison and Denis O’Brien’s company; in doing so, offering a potted history of 80s British cinema, and of the making of some key movies (Time Bandits, Withnail & I, Mona Lisa¬†etc) of that period.