In Search of Darkness brings together a selection of huge genre names, enthusiastic fans and pop culture commentators to explore the horror films of the 1980s in this 4+ hour celebration of the films that have undoubtedly left their mark on viewers, the creatives involved in the films and the creatives who were involved in bringing them to life.
In Search of Darkness clocks in at over four hours and for some, that might seem excessive, however, the documentary is so perfectly-paced, full of information and often sheer joy at it’s material that the run time really doesn’t feel like a problem.
The documentary moves through films by year, but also breaks off into tangents about the most important themes like gender and the impact that conservative governments have on the making of horror films in addition to more film-focused elements like the use of special effects and fandom. This format allows for the usual favourites and classics to be covered, as well as some lesser-known or celebrated works. Director David A. Weiner has a keen eye and ear for when to move onto the next segment, without ever feeling like an abrupt cut off. By including those involved in the original films who have continued their careers alongside writers and creatives in their early careers who were likely inspired by the films on show there’s an overwhelming sense of affection which runs throughout the film.
The segments are tied together through the use of a transition screen which features a huge display of 80s horror titles and the artwork that accompanied them. It feels deliberately evocative of the feeling of walking into a video shop and feeling all the interesting titles and incredible artwork. As the camera zooms in on the next title to be discussed it’s easy to find yourself pointing at the surrounding films marking them either as films you’ve already enjoyed or ones that you might not have heard of, but spark an interest. The fact that we have been in a resurgence of 80s horror tropes, styling and references for some time now shows how important the era is to horror fans and how it continues to inform the genre in modern times.
The calibre of names involved in the film is truly something. All the contributors have an infectious enthusiasm for their subject, whether it is about their own films or not. It is fascinating to hear Barbara Cramption recount her experiences in filming Re-Animator, along with Caroline Williams stating that she sees horror as the perfect genre to introduce more LGBT characters in a more empowered way. There are words from John Carpenter and Nick Castle on Halloween II which more clearly explain their dislike of the idea. The fact that I can say this and still not really have scratched the surface of the stories, trivia and insight that the documentary offers is a testament to how packed it is.
In Search of Darkness gets 5 stars from me, The run time might make some question it, but I promise that you wouldn’t fit the incredible content in any other way. Perfect Halloween viewing that even the most knowledgeable horror fan will likely find something new in.
To find out more about In Search of Darkness head to 80shorrordoc.com