So you've finished streaming the addictive new Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country, about controversial Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and the city his followers founded in 1980s' Oregon. Now you're looking for more shows, podcasts and documentaries about cults, fanatics and secretive religions?
Okay, we can help with that. Here are some of our favorites from the burgeoning genre.
Two decades later, those who lost loved ones and those who still believe tell the story of Heaven's Gate, the cult that made news around the world when 39 members committed mass suicide in what was reportedly an attempt to reach an alien spacecraft orbiting a comet. heavensgate.show
Dear Franklin Jones
Producer Jonathan Hirsch had a childhood much like yours, except his family had a secret. They were followers of a controversial spiritual leader named Franklin Jones. To Jonathan’s parents, Franklin Jones was a god, but to people outside the group, Jones was a cult leader. Now, Jonathan is going back, trying to find out what happened, and whether the group really did become a cult. dearfranklinjones.com
From Japan's Aum Shinrikyo to Canada's Ant Hill Kids, the Sect of Nacozari in Mexico and Heaven's Gate and the Manson Family in the U.S., this weekly podcast from the hosts of Serial Killers explores, the mystery, manipulation and murder associated with cults around the world, their leaders and the people who join them. parcast.com/cults/
You Must Remember This
For starters, Karina Longworth's You Must Remember This, an ode to old Hollywood stars and starlets that recounts Tinseltown's early personalities, scandals and forgotten stories with nostalgic romance and modern hindsight, was a must-listen even before she decided to devote an entire 12-episode season to Charles Manson. But the Manson stuff is masterful, looking at how Manson infiltrated the entertainment scene little by little. If you're stilling looking for even more Manson, there's another podcast called Young Charlie. youmustrememberthispodcast.com/archive/.
Just out of college, a young filmmaker joins a loving, secretive, and spiritual community led by a charismatic teacher in 1980s West Hollywood. Twenty years later, the group is shockingly torn apart. Told through over two decades of the filmmaker’s archival materials, this is their story.
Where to Stream It: Netflix, or buy it on iTunes or Google Play.
Filmmaker Amy Berg sheds light on the sexual, financial and spiritual abuses heaped upon members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by their former leader, Warren Jeffs.
Where to stream it: Showtime, or buy it on Vudu, Google Play Movies or PlayStation.
'Children of God: Lost and Found'
Noah Thomson's first-person account of growing up in a sexually-charged, evangelical Christian cult, his own lost childhood, and his search, years later, for others who have tried to start a new life outside the cult Children of God, also known as "The Family," isn't as slickly produced as some of the others on this list, but it's still compelling. There's also the 1994 doc Children of God, which explores the same group from a different angle.
Where to Stream It: Children of God: Lost and Found can be streamed on HBO, or rented on Google Play, iTunes or Playstation. Children of God is available on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
'Jonestown: Life and Death of People's Temple'
Why did the 900 followers of Jim Jones, who in this PBS documentary appear to have been intelligent people who loved life, follow him into death via drinking poisoned Kool-Aid in “the largest mass suicide in modern history.” This movie features some of the Jonestown residents who got away telling the harrowing story, as well as chilling audio tape of Jones telling his followers to die "with dignity" on the day of their suicide in Jonestown, Guyana. If you'd prefer to watch a re-enactment over historical footage, there's also the 2007 History Channel documentary Jonestown: Paradise Lost.
Where to Stream It: Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple is now available on the Doc Spot YouTube channel for free. Jonestown: Paradise Lost can be streamed on Amazon Prime.
This movie chronicles Ted ‘Black Lightning’ Patrick’s anti-cult crusade, and his sometimes controversial and even illegal practice of ‘deprogramming’, also known as "reverse brainwashing." The anti-cult movement started in the early 1970s and quickly snowballed into a vast underground network of concerned parents, ex-cult members who became deprogrammers and some sympathetic law enforcement officers whose mission was to physically and mentally remove individuals from ‘cults’.
Where to Stream It: Netflix, or rent it on Google Play or iTunes.
'The Source Family'
Set in Hollywood, this feature explores a radical experiment in '70s utopian living. The Source Family were the darlings of the Sunset Strip until their communal living, outsider ideals and spiritual leader Father Yod's 13 wives became an issue with local authorities. They sold their restaurant and moved to Hawaii to get away, which may have only hastened their dramatic demise.