Burden of Dreams (1982): Werner Herzog has made a career documenting the fantastic: dancing chickens, about-to-erupt volcanoes, auctioneers, Nicolas Cage. Thing is, Herzog himself is at least as fantastic as the things he documents. While filming Fitzcarraldo , Herzog hired documentarian Les Blank to film the trouble-strewn, Peru-set production, which had already lost its two original leads, Jason Robards and Mick Jagger, to, respectively, a jungle disease and scheduling conflicts. And then, while filming his hero’s attempt to drag a steamer over a hill, the steamer they were actually dragging over a hill got stuck. Then Herzog delivered the most insane monologue in film history. Then the jungle natives offered to kill the typically misbehaving Kinski. Even Herzog’s movie wasn’t so weird.
The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987): One of the mere 30 survivors of a thousand-strong regiment stationed in New Guinea during WWII, the late veteran Kenzo Okuzaki blamed Emperor Hirohito and his highers-ups for their deaths. Kazuo Hara’s doc follows him as he visits those he feels responsible, then accuses them of murder and assaults them. Sadly, Hara’s cameras weren’t around in 1969, when he famously hurled pachinko marbles at Hirohito.
Crazy Love (2007): Wealthy ambulance chaser Burt Pugach was obsessed with beauty Linda Riss. But she was just not that into him. So Pugach hired goons to throw lye in her face, maiming and nearly blinding her. A 30-year prison stint later, Pugach tried again. She accepted.
Zoo (2006): A man is crushed to death while fucking a horse. Neigh means no!
Forbidden Lie$ (2007): At the height of post-9/11 Muslim-phobia, Norma Khouri wrote Forbidden Love , about the alleged honor killing of her female friend in Jordan. Alas, none of it checked out; for starters, Khouri wasn’t in Jordan during the events, but in Chicago. Anna Broinowski’s doc sifts through the bullshit and only gets a migraine: For one, Khouri maintains her books’ veracity, even with zero evidence.
Tabloid (2010): Former Miss Wyomings with 168 IQs; kidnapped Mormons tied to beds and raped; cloning in South Korea. Like all films on this list, no sane screenwriter would ever dream this up.
2014 Films: The Year’s Most Likely