8 True Crime Movies With Wikipedia Rabbit Holes You'll Spend Hours Diving Into
If you've ever found yourself awake at 3 a.m. pouring over the details of a bizarre historical incident, you already know the lure of Wikipedia's endlessly unfolding information accessible with a mere click. Meanwhile, there's the sudden boom in true-crime documentaries, movies, and shows, with viewers spending hours dissecting each element of a case, guessing at motives, and digging up clues. Combine the two, and you have one of the potentially most devastating time-sucks around. With that in mind, here are eight true crime movies with Wikipedia rabbit holes so deep you may never find the light of day again.
Some of these films are already well-known, due to the nature of their crime cases. The Black Dahlia murder was the first major post-war national knock at America's sunny optimism about its future, and the Zodiac's seemingly random crimes terrified a country already feeling wildly unstable during the cultural revolution of the '60s. Others have elements so bizarre that you won't be able to stop fixating on them. The strange elevator surveillance footage released following Elisa Lam's already odd death propelled the case to internet lore, while the Dyatlov Pass incident was so strange film could only resort to fiction to explain it. So say goodbye to your free time, and check out these films.
In 1959, a group of nine young, experienced Russian ski hikers made camp at what was then called Kholat Syakhl. At some point during the night, something caused them to tear their way out of their tents, and flee into sub-zero temperatures without adequate clothing. When their bodies were discovered, six had died from hypothermia, but three had died from blunt-force trauma.
Using the original incident as a springboard, horror film Devil's Pass has a group of Oregon students camping out to investigate the mystery, finding something clearly supernatural as the source. In reality, as Vice reports, no one's still quite sure what happened to the nine students, though theories involving Russian Yeti, angry local tribespeople, coitus interrupts with a vengeance, and vicious animal attacks have been thoroughly debunked. Read about it on Wikipedia here.
2'The Black Dahlia'
One of true-crime's most infamous unsolved cases, the Black Dahlia is about the gruesome murder of aspiring actor Elizabeth Short, who became far more famous in death than she ever was in life. When short was found dismembered and posed in a vacant lot, numerous suspects in her life were interviewed, several confessions were made, and stacks of books were written posturing theories, but none ultimately panned out. Rumors spread quickly as facts, none leading to anything conclusive. Her case remains one of the oldest open in LAPD history, as he FBI's site reports. Read about it here.
It may seem odd than an Elizabeth Taylor movie about a promiscuous woman and wealthy married man putting their pasts aside for the better would have anything to do with a deep crime dive, but such is the joy of Wikipedia. The movie was based on John O'Hara's book of the same name, though took a lot of liberties with the plot. In turn, the book was far more faithful to its source material, the tabloid-ready death of socialite Starr Faithfull. It's still unknown whether her drowning at age 25 was suicide or homicide, but with a diary detailing encounters with 19 different men and implicating a wealthy, famous Boston politician for sexually abusing her as a child, Faithfull's case caught national attention. Unfortunately it didn't get any closer to solving her death. You can read more about Starr Faithfull's death here.
A documentary that eschews the actual incident in favor of the many surrounding questions, Zoo tackles the death of Kenneth Pinyan, who distributed zoophile pornography and died from injuries sustained during sex with a stallion. The news rocked Seattle, then the nation, even as Pinyan's videos quickly made rounds on the internet, as did the salacious details of the case. Yet at the time there weren't even laws on the books to prosecute Pinyan's friend who videotaped the very incident that killed him, and legal questions about guilt, consent, animal abuse, and the different kinds of relationships between humans and animals were quickly hashed out leaving many gray areas. You can read more about the Enumclaw Horse Incident here.
5'The Mystery Of Marie Roget'
This gothic murder-mystery movie is based on the Edgar Allen Poe story of the same name, which in turn was based on what may be the first example of true-crime in literature. Poe was fascinated by the real-life 1841 death of Jersey girl Mary Rogers, a shop clerk whose body was pulled from the Hudson. There were revelations during his investigation including a hidden pregnancy, causing him to reprint his story with additional details later on. You may not know her story, but you may have made out with her; Rogers' beauty was immortalized when her death mask was used as the model for CPR educational dummy Rescusci Anne.
Fincher's movie is not only a full and thorough history of the still-unsolved Zodiac Killer case itself, it's a testament to the strange, often banal work behind solving any mystery, and the obsession that pushes people to persist. The movie might seem long at nearly three hours, but it's got nothing on the detailed Wikipedia scroll through every detail and branched-off conspiracy about the case, including the latest discoveries on the potentially separate Golden State Killer case.
How can a remake of a 2002 Japanese movie starring Jennifer Connelly, based on a 1999 Japanese short story, have any connection to the mysterious 2013 death of a young woman? Where there's an internet message board, there's a way. The strange, sad death of Lam Ho Yi, aka Elisa Lam, a 21 year-old Canadian student found in the water tower of Los Angeles' infamous Cecil hotel (a supposedly cursed place that's an entirely separate wikihole to dive down itself) started garnering comparisons to the eerie horror film Dark Water after a surveillance video surfaced of Lam acting strangely in and around the hotel elevator, as if something unseen was chasing her.
Conspiracy theories about whether she was suffering a bipolar episode, if the supernatural was involved, even if it was all a hoax, went back and forth online, but no actual explanation of how Lam's body got into the tank, nor determination whether her death was accidental or intentional, has been forthcoming.
The focus of Angelina Jolie's 1920s period piece is about women's power undermined by authority, but the reason her character claims her returned missing son isn't actually her son is devastatingly real. In 1928 the LAPD was under immense public pressure due to revelations of corruption, scandal, and incompetence. Finding the missing son of Christine Collins was a great PR coup, except Christine was sure the boy returned to her wasn't her son. Labeled delusional by police, Collins was placed in a psychiatric ward for 10 days. While in jail, her "son" was questioned and admitted to not being related, but just wanting an excuse to get to Hollywood to see his favorite actor. When the full horror of the Wineville Chicken Coop Murders was finally uncovered, the true story of what happened to Collins' actual son came out.
Not to completely destroy your calendars, but there's plenty more mystery where that came from; do yourselves all a favor and never, ever click on this List Of Unusual Deaths link or you may never leave your house again.