While most genres wax and wane in popularity over time, one thing remains constant: our unending fascination with true crime stories. Real-life murderers, mobsters, and swindlers have provided models for popular horror, disquieting psychological realism, and avant-garde experiments alike. Inspired by some of the most infamous cases of all time—including the Papin sisters (LES ABYSSES, LA CÉRÉMONIE), John Dillinger (DILLINGER), Jack the Ripper (FROM HELL), and the Zodiac Killer (ZODIAC)—these ripped-from-the-headlines tales of notorious killers and outlaws prove that truth is often stranger, and more shocking, than fiction.
Directed by Fritz Lang • 1931 • Germany
A simple, haunting musical phrase whistled offscreen tells us that a young girl will be killed. "Who Is the Murderer?" pleads a nearby placard as serial killer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) closes in on little Elsie Beckmann... In his harrowing masterwork M, ...
Directed by Francesco Rosi • 1962 • Italy
July 5, 1950--Sicilian bandit Salvatore Giuliano's bullet-riddled corpse is found facedown in a courtyard in Castelvetrano, a handgun and rifle by his side. Local and international press descend upon the scene, hoping to crack open the true story behind ...
Directed by Nico Papatakis • 1963 • France
Starring Francine Bergé, Colette Bergé, Pascale de Boysson
Inspired by the notorious case of Christine and Léa Papin—French sisters working as maids who murdered their employer’s wife and daughter in 1933—Nico Papatakis’s debut feature was a succès de s...
The Honeymoon Killers
Directed by Leonard Kastle • 1969 • United States
Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler) is sullen, overweight, and lonely. Desperate for affection, she joins Aunt Carrie's Friendship Club and strikes up a correspondence with Ray Fernandez (Tony Lo Bianco), a charismatic smooth talker who could be the man...
In the Realm of the Senses
Directed by Nagisa Oshima • 1976 • Japan
Starring Tatsuya Fuji, Eiko Matsuda
IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES (AI NO CORRIDA), by the always provocative Japanese director Nagisa Oshima, remains one of the most controversial films of all time. Based on a true incident, it graphically depicts the all-co...
Vengeance Is Mine
Directed by Shohei Imamura • 1979 • Japan
Starring Ken Ogata, Mayumi Ogawa, Mitsuko Baisho
A thief, a murderer, and a charming lady-killer, Iwao Enokizu (Ken Ogata) is on the run from the police. Director Shohei Imamura turns this fact-based story—about the seventy-eight-day killing spree of a r...
Directed by Joyce Chopra • 1985 • United States
Starring Laura Dern, Treat Williams, Mary Kay Place
Suspended between carefree youth and the harsh realities of the adult world, a teenage girl experiences an unsettling awakening in this haunting vision of innocence lost. Based on Joyce Carol Oate...
A Brighter Summer Day
Directed by Edward Yang • 1991 • Taiwan
Among the most praised and sought-after titles in all contemporary film, this singular masterpiece of Taiwanese cinema, directed by Edward Yang, finally comes to home video in the United States. Set in the early sixties in Taiwan, A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY is ...
Directed by Claude Chabrol • 1995 • France, Germany
Starring Sandrine Bonnaire, Isabelle Huppert, Jacqueline Bisset
Catherine (Jacqueline Bisset) hires the illiterate Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) as her maid. But Sophie soon falls under the influence of the mysterious postal worker Jeanne (Isab...
Directed by Arturo Ripstein • 1996 • France, Mexico, Spain
In this alternately macabre and mirthful thriller, based on a true-crime story, renowned Mexican director Arturo Ripstein brings a stylish audacity to the tale of the "Lonely Hearts Killers," a couple who, in the 1940s, posed as brother ...
Directed by Matteo Garrone • 2008 • Italy
Starring Toni Servillo, Salvatore Abruzzese, Gianfelice Imparato
Matteo Garrone’s GOMORRAH is a stark, shocking vision of contemporary gangsterdom, and one of cinema’s most authentic depictions of organized crime. In this tour de force adaptation of unde...