Released: 26th November
Seen: 26th November
In 2019 the first instalment of In Search Of Darkness came out and was a joyous celebration of 80s horror, albeit just a little bit on the repetitive side. In 2020 we got the second instalment of In Search Of Darkness which went even deeper into the glory of the 80s horror and started diving into the weirder titles that littered the shelves of the local video store, with a lot fewer repetitions to pad out the runtime. For a while, it seemed like that would be the end of it but fortunately not because In Search of Darkness 3 just released and it’s a fitting finale to one of the most fun 80s retrospectives ever.
In Search Of Darkness 3 follows the format of the first two films almost to a fault, going year by year as a cast of 80s icons, directors of obscure works, critics and fans talk about a handful of films that represent each year. Each year’s list is broken up by mini-documentaries talking about certain elements of 80s horror culture or a popular figure from that decade of film. The only main difference is that while the first two films in this franchise went for a little under four and a half hours each, this one pushes more for a 6-hour runtime so they can go into just a bit more detail on everything.
If the first film was taking up all the obvious choices and the second film got into the weirder titles from the decade, then part three is the perfect blend of known classic titles and films so obscure that you probably can’t even see half of them anymore without finding a dodgy link that takes you to a website that’ll crash your computer just by thinking about it. Part Three will dive into iconic films like Prom Night before jumping into oddities like Blood Beach without a second thought. It also spends a lot more time talking about some gloriously strange non-American/Canadian horror films like Mystics in Bali or Santa Sangre, showing that the 80s horror landscape was even stranger and more worldwide than you might remember.
As usual with this franchise, the mini-documentaries that break up each year are fascinating and delve into a wide range of essential topics from what VHS did for the industry to the Satanic Panic and even the concept of representation and how well some of the 80s representation has aged. Being mini-documentaries they don’t dive too deep into some of these topics, the Satanic Panic part particularly feels lacking because it sticks to just the surface-level stuff where people were being weird about how to play their Ozzy Osbourne records without ever touching on things like the McMartin preschool trial, a real tangible harm created by the Satanic panic. While it’s obvious that the film-makers can’t really touch on absolutely everything in as much detail as they’d like, that underwhelming feeling does make some sections feel a little lesser than what they could have been.
The segments that just focus on one key person are absolutely fascinating though, this time they focus on Adrienne Barbeau, Dee Wallace and Screaming Mad George and getting to listen to these icons talk about their careers is endlessly fascinating, especially Screaming Mad George who honestly should just have his own documentary talking about his wild career. It’s a treat to get to listen to these legends talk about their history, how they got into the horror genre as performers and the highlights of their career. These are some of the most important people who have worked in this genre and it’s nice to see them getting the recognition they deserve.
Possibly the most heartwarming moment of In Search Of Darkness 3 comes during the credits where the filmmakers have allowed fans of this franchise just to talk about what they like about 80s horror. It’s a reminder that this film was made for fans, by fans, and seeing a diverse range of people from all over talking joyfully about how much they love horror and what it means to them will put a strange smile on your face. It’s a fitting finale to a fantastic trilogy that celebrates one of the wildest elements of cinema history.
In Search Of Darkness 3 is a fine place to end this franchise and it goes out in style. Sure they could probably make more of these, 80s horror is such a massive topic that there are probably enough films left over to get a solid half a dozen films out of this concept but the longer they keep going the more they’d end up relying on films that were on a single video shelf somewhere in the middle of Connecticut made by 2 local guys with a camcorder. This franchise went out on top, gifting its fanbase with a grand history of the genre and enough titles to make the most epic Amazon Wish List known to man. If this is how it ends, it’s a truly grand finale.