10 Bizarre True Stories that Became Documentaries – Part 2

When we think we are all simple people living a simple life, many movies and news reports tell us otherwise. There are several bizarre documentaries that are made from real-life stories that won’t sit right with anyone. There are people who practice weird rituals despite being the most powerful and richest in the entire world, and there are also people who think invading the privacy of people in the name of research without their knowledge is acceptable. Here are 10 bizarre true stories that became documentaries.

Table of Contents

1. Resurrecting the Dead: The Mystery of Toynbee Tiles 

This 2011 release independent documentary is based on the Toynbee tile phenomenon. In about two dozen major United States cities, Toynbee tiles, made of linoleum with bizarre messages, can be spotted in the streets. The documentary shows a couple of guys out to solve the riddle of these tiles. 

Justin Duerr with a Toynbee tile in “Resurrect Dead”. Image Credit: Land of Missing Parts Productions

Toynbee tiles are of unknown origin and are laid out in more than two dozen major cities throughout the US. Since the 1980s, several of these tiles have been spotted which are the size of a license plate. The documentary is about decoding the inscriptions on these cryptic tiles. The Philadelphia residents, Steve Weinik, Colin Smith, Jon Foy, and Justin Duerr started working on finding the source and meaning of these tiles in 2005. 

These tiles mainly have two variations of the same idea which mentions Stanley Kubrick’s movie 2001 and a message of resurrecting the dead on Jupiter. The film gives multiple pieces of evidence that a Philadelphia resident, Severino “Sevy” Verna, was responsible for the messages. They claim he started first with broadcasting the message through short wave radio and later began placing the tiles. (1, 2)

2. The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing is an unsettling journey of men who are killed without remorse or justice. The documentary talked about the murders carried out by small-time gangsters who helped the army kill more than a million communists. The murders now occupy high positions in parliamentary organizations and were never punished. 

The Act of Killing
Image Credit: Final Cut for Real, DK

The Indonesian mass killings that happened around 1965-66 were a communist purge with civil unrest and large-scale killing that was supported by Western countries including the US. More than one million people were killed. The film focus on the perpetrators of this genocide. The film won the European Film Award for Best Documentary in 2013. 

The documentary was ranked 19th in the list of best documentaries ever made. The Indonesian government responded negatively. After the screening, the US government was forced to acknowledge its part in the killings. A companion piece, The Look of Silence, was later released in 2014. The perpetrators open up about the killing in front of the camera.

They had to extort money from marginal communities so that they can keep their own lives. Today, they are supported by the right-wing and given positions in government where they are openly involved in corruption, clearing people from the land, and election-rigging. (1, 2)

3. Finders Keepers

Finders Keepers talks about two people fighting over an amputated, mummified leg. John Wood gets his leg amputated after a plane crash, and the hospital gives him his whole leg back when he asked to keep it. When he sold the storage shed he owned, the new owner finds the leg and gets obsessed with achieving fame through it as the “The Foot Man.” 

Finders Keepers
John Wood (pictured Above). Image Credit: Firefly Theater & Films

This documentary shows us humanity behind a freak show of a story. The documentary explains the legal battle between two men over a severed leg. While it feels like something to be laughed off, the film digs deep into struggles and pain in the real world. It is hysterical and at the same time insightful. 

John wood lost his left leg during a crash, and to create a memorial of some sort, he keeps it with skin and muscle intact, which he mummified. He later puts it in a storage shed he owned and forgets about it. Eventually, the shed was sold at an auction.

The new owner found the leg and took this opportunity to make the place a twisted attraction venue and earn fame through it. It eventually became a gold mine for the newspapers all the way to Japan. The film also makes room for the wreckage that occurred after the media has moved on. (1, 2)

4. Zoo

Zoo is an American documentary on a man who died of a perforation in his colon caused by practicing bestiality. It focuses on the bizarre death of a Boeing engineer’s strange and fatal encounter with a horse. The documentary has a fascinating look at a taboo subject. 

Zoo
Image Credit: Cook Ding

The documentary talks about the community of zoophiles after a grim, 30-second video of a man willingly submitting himself to a horse. Bestiality was legal during the time in Washington, and they got away without any charges of abusing the animal.

The man who had the “romantic encounter” died due to the intercourse. The case made Washington change its laws with unanimous voting. The film was screened at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. 

Robinson Devor, the filmmaker, first named it In the Forest There Is Every Kind Of Bird, which later changed to Zoo to represent the community. Some criticized the movie to be overly dramatic while some reviews appreciate the filmmaker going into compelling depths of a man’s degeneracy. The zoophiles who appeared in the movie kept in touch with the director for years as they considered him an ally to their cause. (1, 2)

5. Voyeur

Voyeur is a true-crime documentary about Gerald Foos who is a motel owner in Colorado who spent decades spying on his guests through a specially designed attic system. He claims his actions were ways of conducting research into private moments of people. Journalist Gay Talese closely followed Foos for 25 years before bringing the story to life. 

Voyeur
Beginning in the 1960s, Gerald Foos (pictured above) outfitted more than a dozen rooms with fake ceiling vents at Manor House Motel in Aurora, Colorado, so that he could secretly watch his guests have sex. Image Credit: Gay Talese/dailymail.co.uk

Voyeur is a creepy and strange story of Foos who spied on his guests for years. Foos himself is interviewed in the documentary. He explains how he spied on the private moments of his patrons in the name of studying people and their sexual behavior. He has set up a special system that he calls an “observation platform” in his Colorado motel named Aurora. 

The critical review has been positive on the film and had a world premiere at the New York Film Festival. The filmmakers have dug deep into the strange habits of Foos than the book Talese wrote about the obsessions of Gerald Foos. Filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Sam Mendes were planning to make a movie on the story and almost acquired the rights in 2016 but backed out later when they came to know about the documentary. (1, 2)

Also read: 10 True Stories of How Brain Damage Changed People

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.