AMERICAN CONSPIRACY: THE OCTOPUS MURDERS on Netflix is a true crime docuseries in four parts. It’s wild, mindboggling, and terrifying. Read our full American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders documentary review here!

AMERICAN CONSPIRACY: THE OCTOPUS MURDERS is a new Netflix documentary series in four parts. The episodes are around one hour long each and just when you think it can’t get crazier, it does!

And no, you will not get all the answers you’re looking for. Not because this documentary is holding back, but rather because so many questions remain. We’ve watched all four episodes for this review. Partly because we felt it was necessary to get the full picture, but also because we wanted to keep watching.

Continue reading our American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders documentary review below. Find it on Netflix from February 28, 2024.

The death of Danny Casolaro

This new Netflix docuseries essentially follows two tracks that are directly connected. It focuses on journalist Danny Casolaro who was found dead in a hotel bathtub on August 10, 1991. The police were quick to rule it a suicide.

Too quick, many believe.

Especially as he had received death threats and was working on something big. His family (which he was very close to), as well as friends (many of them journalists), believe he could very well have been murdered.

Danny Casolaro was investigating a conspiracy known as “The Octopus”. This is the other focus of the documentary, which we discover through the investigative work Danny Casolaro did before his death.

Going down the rabbit hole!

“The Octopus” is a secret organization supposedly connected to all sorts of seedy and spy-related power moves. From stolen government spy software to a string of unsolved murders, and even some of the biggest political scandals of the 20th century.

For Danny Casolaro, it all began as a simple inquiry into an intellectual property dispute. Working on computer-related stories in the 1980s, it was a case that caught his eye. A private technology company called INSLAW had created the PROMIS software for the government.

Specifically, the Department of Justice. This software was a database to replace having only paper files. Something that was clearly a problem as covered in episode one.

Suddenly, however, INSLAW is fired by the Department of Justice. Yet the PROMIS software is still used by the government, so INSLAW sues the US government. Obviously, this was a case that intrigued Danny Casolare as one of the still few journalists who covered this cutting-edge “tech” stuff in the 1980s.

Before long, however, Casolaro found himself caught up in a story that involved political powerplays, international espionage, and possibly even murder. American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders follows the path down the very same rabbit hole that led to Danny Casolaro’s untimely death.

American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders – Review | Netflix Docuseries

Trying to finally crack the case

Decades after Danny Casolaro’s death, photojournalist Christian Hansen picks up where Casolaro left off. He wants to finally solve the case of The Octopus Murders. Because yes, as Casolaro discovered, when someone knew too much, they were killed.

“The Octopus” organization seems to have been involved in all the shadiest stories of the 1980s. Every time Christina Hansen follows a clue, it leads to something crazier! From spyware and money laundering to Reagan’s Iran-Contra.

Using Casolaro’s work, it’s easy to understand the name “The Octopus”. All the various connections come from comparing the sprawling scope of interconnected people and events to an octopus with tentacles reaching into all the shadiest events.

In the docuseries, we see director Zachary Treitz and Christian Hansen on one road trip after another as they travel across the country trying to track down the same sources and evidence Casolaro came into contact with.

One investigative reporter portrays another

My one big issue with American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders is that it uses reenactments and dramatization without making it obvious. Suddenly, we see the present-day journalist Christian Hansen essentially portraying Danny Casolaro as they show us what he did back in the 1980s.

This creates quite a confusing narrative for a while, as it’s tricky to know exactly when we’re seeing Christian Hansen as himself versus Christian Hansen as Danny Casolaro.

Watch American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders on Netflix!

This new Netflix documentary series was directed by Zachary Treitz, who we also see on camera. He is often the voice of reason, as he can see journalist Christian Hansen is getting obsessed with the work that killed Danny Casolaro. As Treitz and Hansen are friends, the communication is always open and honest.

The docuseries was produced by Duplass Brothers Productions with Stardust Frames. Previously, the Duplass brothers (Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass) also produced the HBO docuseries Last Stop Larrimah: Murder Down Under which I highly recommend.

The style of this docuseries reminded me a lot of that one, which is a very good thing!

It’s easy to see why several investigative reporters have already been down the rabbit hole covered in this docuseries. In fact, quite a few are still “down there” and as you watch the final episode of American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders, it’s easy to understand why.

Fair warning: While there are some definitive answers in this docu-series, there are even more questions remaining. It’s part of the key points made as we reach the end of this crazy adventure. Or rather, the end of the docuseries. The adventure continues!

American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders is out globally on Netflix on February 28, 2024.


An investigative journalist pursuing a political conspiracy known as the Octopus is found dead in his hotel room. Decades later, new details emerge.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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