12 Best Cult Documentaries and Where to Stream Them Now


Whether you’re a first time watcher or a veteran, there’s no denying it: cult documentaries are wildly fascinating. So we’ve rounded up some of the best cult documentaries available to watch now. There seems to be a never-ending stream of exposés on the different cults that have risen to prominence throughout history. From utopian communes gone wrong to megalomaniacal leaders who cultivate truly out-there personal faiths, these docu-series and documentaries look into Heaven’s Gate, the Manson Family, the Branch Davidians, and more.  

When it comes to cult documentaries, you’ll probably find Wild Wild Country mentioned in every list — and if you’ve dipped your toes in the esoteric pool of enlightenment gurus, you’ve probably heard the name Osho at least once. But before he was known as Osho, leader of the Rajneeshpuram cult, Bhagwan Shree Rajnesh allegedly started out with the goal of establishing a self-sustaining, independent commune in rural Oregon. Despite his surprisingly quick success, a series of escalating disagreements with the neighboring Christian town ultimately culminated in the first known bioterrorism attack in U.S. history–and that’s not even the whole story

Streaming on Netflix.

Produced only four years after the intense, 51-day-long standoff in Waco between law enforcement and David Koresh’s Branch Davidian cult, this engaging documentary tells the story of how things got out of hand, culminating in the deaths of Koresh, 76 of his followers, and four federal agents. Posing questions about cult legality, and when law enforcement intervention is justifiedWaco: The Rules of Engagement is an engaging look into cult-led extremism and its very real consequences.

Streaming on YouTube.

Sexual coercion and abuse are unfortunate recurring themes when discussing cults. Heaven’s Gate, however, actively discouraged engaging in sexual activity. Its leaders, “Ti” and “Do,” promised their followers an everlasting life by transforming them into sexless, genderless aliens. This documentary does a deep dive into their beliefs by speaking to former members, including someone that still believes their teachings, in the hopes of shedding a light on the events that led up to the group’s tragic mass suicide in 1997.

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Tags: aliens, cults, documentaries, manson family, movies, streaming, u.s. history

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