5 True-Crime Movies to Watch on YouTube Thanksgiving Weekend

A Free Banquet Awaits Online

Whether you need a diversion while dicing potatoes, want a break from a pompous in-law, or are home alone and bored, you’ll enjoy feasting on at least one of these.

Brandon Teena (left) with friend Lana Tisdel

1. The Brandon Teena Story (1998)
Genre: Documentary
Watch If: You want some proof the U.S. has made progress on LGBT issues over the past 20 years.
Length: 1 hour 28 minutes
Beautiful and devastating true story of Brandon Teena, a transgender 21-year-old Nebraskan who was raped and murdered by incensed former friends. Hillary Swank won an Academy Award for playing Brandon in the subsequent Hollywood dramatization, Boys Don’t Cry. The documentary version is equally good and features Lorrie Morgan on its soundtrack.
Warning: Could make you afraid to even fly over the Bible Belt.

Eric Roberts and Anne Heche star in the movie

2. Fatal Desire (2006)
Genre: Made-for-TV Lifetime movie
Watch if: You feel like some absorbing lightweight drama.
Length: 1 hour 53 minutes
A nice vehical for Anne Heche, who portrays a character based on Sharee Miller — a real-life seductress who wielded her flaxen hair and lingerie effectively enough to ruin at least two men’s lives. Eric Roberts plays one of them in the dramatization. Heche and Roberts both do a good job in their roles.
Warning: When you Google “Sharee Miller” afterward, you’re going to be disappointed.

Damien Echols on trial

3. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)
Genre: Documentary
Watch If: You want to understand why Johnny Depp adopted this cause.
Length: 2 hours 30 minutes
Highly disturbing tale of how a rural Arkansas community persecutes a trio of misfits after three small boys turn up dead. During the trial, “expert” testimony links suspect Damien Echols’ fondness for black clothing with an affinity for human sacrifice.
Warning: The witch hunt is so upsetting that the tragedy of the homicides kind of slips away.

Farrah Fawcett at peak

4. Small Sacrifices (1989)
Genre: Made for TV movie
Watch if: You like Ann Rule books.
Length: 2 hours 39 minutes
Dramatization of the story of Diane Downs, a mail carrier who shot her three children when they got in the way of her obsessive love life. Farrah Fawcett, who stars as Downs, had evolved into a good actress by the time she made this movie. Ryan O’Neal and John Shea co-star. Based on the Ann Rule best seller of the same name.
Warning: Might compel you to check out Charlie’s Angels, the ludicrous 1970s TV series that made Fawcett and her hair a sensation.

The MacDonalds wed when they were both 20

5. Fatal Vision (1984)
Genre: NBC Made for TV Movie
Watch If: You’re a fan of actor Gary Cole.
Length: 3 hours 1 minute (plus promotion and commercials)
A time capsule within a time capsule because the movie portrays events from the 196os to 1970s — and the version uploaded to YouTube features commercials from the original 1984 broadcast. The drama, based on Joe McGinniss’ blockbuster book, tells of how blond Princeton graduate Dr. Jeff MacDonald’s status shifts from best and brightest to psychopathic killer of his wife, Colette, and their small two daughters in a bloodbath he still blames on Manson-inspired hippies.
Warning: A number of respected journalists, including The New Yorker writer Janet Malcolm, believe Fatal Vision is a sham and MacDonald’s innocent.

That’s all for this week. Until next time, cheers. RR