Released: 18th November
Seen: 18th November
Back in March I talked about a little documentary called In Search Of Darkness, a four-hour long love letter to the 80’s horror film. In short, I felt it was a genuinely great film that was easily digestible, gave a good overview of the genre at the time but had the bad habit of using a lot of films from the same franchise which made it repetitive and robbed the audience of getting to hear about a wider array of films from the decade. So when I found out that they were planning a sequel I had high hopes, even bought it ahead of time, thinking if they could be a little less repetitive with the movies they picked then it could be great…. Sometimes, getting your hopes up can actually end well.
In Search Of Darkness II takes the framing from the first movie, because if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and just replaces the films that they talk about. Much like the previous film in this franchise, In Search of Darkness II is split up into years, each one represented by about five films that are discussed at length by a variety of actors/directors/critics who not only provide a short film synopsis for each title but also put the films into a cultural context. Between each year there’ll be a bonus segment that’ll touch on a major topic, either about the business of the movies (such as the growth of 8 Bit games made based on horror movies) or individual performers and their histories (such as Robert Englund or Linnea Quigley) or even a more serious topic (like how audiences started relating to the villains).
This feels like what I was hoping the original In Search Of Darkness would be and it’s so wonderful to see the full potential of this documentary finally being realised. At no point in the entire movie do they repeat a franchise, every film is something new and weird and really paints a glorious picture of how wide and weird the Horror genre of the 80’s could get. Going from films like Mother’s Day (a rape revenge horror film about two rednecks who torture women for the amusement of their mother) to family friendly horror hits like Little Shop of Horrors (the musical comedy about the plant that eats people), this film gave me the wide variety of films that I was hoping for. Honestly, you could put every film named here into an Amazon Wishlist and have the ultimate 80s horror collection.
The segments where they focus on a single topic are absolutely great on their own, like a small mini documentary that slips in to break up the flow of proceedings and further expands on the elements that make this genre so beloved. The video game section does feel like it was done purely because they interviewed the Angry Video Game Nerd and thus had a fairly easy resource for information on bad 80s horror games but it was still interesting (even if the section about the Friday the 13th video game feels a little late considering they just turned off the dedicated servers for that game). Each segment really helped with filling in the details about how weird this decade of cinema could get within the confines of this genre.
It really feels like they nailed everything, there were a few kinks to work out from the first In Search of Darkness and now they’ve hammered those out which makes for a fun and interesting viewing experience. Just like the last time, even though the film itself is over 4 hours long, it’s in well defined segments so it’s very easy to just watch in small bursts without feeling the need to marathon the entire thing.
In Search of Darkness II is basically the first movie but with my one major complaint fully fixed. It’s a fascinating trip through the genre that would be handy for all horror lovers and for those who are new and want a list of suggestions to try out. The really great part is that there’s clearly so many more movies in this genre left that they could easily do more of these, they have a great formula and I wouldn’t object to another batch of weird obscure horror films being talked about at length by a bunch of professionals. It’s one hell of a love letter to the genre and I can’t wait to watch it again.