In Search of Darkness II: A Journey Into ’80s Horror Continues (2020) poster

In Search of Darkness II: A Journey Into ’80s Horror Continues (2020)


USA. 2020.


Director/Screenplay/Producer – David Weiner, Created and Developed by Robin Block, Photography – Oktay Ortabasi, Original Music – Weary Pines. Production Company – CreatorVC.


Nancy Allen, Tom Atkins, Doug Bradley, Joe Bob Briggs, Clancy Brown, Darcy the Mail Girl, Lori Cardille, John Carpenter, Nick Castle, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Robert Englund, Katie Featherston, Mick Garris, Gretta Gretta, Michael Gingold, Stuart Gordon, Andre Gower, Oliver Harper, Spencer Hickman, Kane Hodder, Thomas Hodge, Tom Holland, James A. Janisse, Chris Jericho, Steve Johnson, Lloyd Kaufman, Jackie Kong, Heather Langenkamp. Don Mancini, Harry Manfredini, Kelli Maroney, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Phil Nobile Jr, Cassandra Peterson, Linnea Quigley, James Rolfe, Robert Rusler, Tom Savini, Ben Scrivens, Corey Taylor, Brandon Tenold, Cecil Trachenburg, Shinya Tsukamoto, Ryan Turek, Gedde Watanabe, Caroline Williams, Matt Winston, Alex Winter, Heather Wixson, Tom Woodruff Jr, Brian Yuzna

In Search of Darkness: A Journey Into Iconic ’80s Horror (2019) was a 4½ hour Documentary. As the title specifies, it covered the 1980s horror film in some detail in a mix of clips and interviews with directors and cast members from the various films. Director David Weiner and his CreatorVC production company then went on to cover the 1980s science-fiction film in similar fashion with In Search of Tomorrow: A Journey Through ’80s Sci-Fi Cinema (2022).

The first In Search of Darkness skipped over the horror films of the 1980s with the strict beginning and cut-off dates of January 1st 1980 through to December 31st 1989. Because of the large number of films covered, there were some undeniable omissions. It feels as though In Search of Darkness II: A Journey Into ’80s Horror Continues was made to cover those films that were missed out on the first time. For instance, while the first film covered Friday the 13th (1980), this deals with Friday the 13th Part II (1981), although not the subsequent sequels, or where the first film dealt with Halloween II (1981) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), this gets around to Halloween IV: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1988) and Halloween 5 (1989). There are still the same interviewees as the first film and only a few new ones, leaving you with the impression that In Search of Darkness II was made simply to use up leftover material that was shot for the first film.

This gets to cover some of the lesser known (and often far more interesting) works that didn’t have the high-profile of the others covered in the first film. We get coverage of moderate to low-budget efforts such as Alligator (1980), Humanoids from the Deep (1980), Mother’s Day (1980), Terror Train (1980), Dead & Buried (1981), Evilspeak (1981), The Funhouse (1981), Graduation Day (1981), The Slumber Party Massacre (1982), C.H.U.D. (1984), Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984), Ghoulies (1985), Vamp (1986) and Maniac Cop (1988), among others.

One aspect I criticised the first film for was its Americano-centric focus and lack of coverage of international films. This is redressed here with the listing of Dario Argento films such as Inferno (1980) and Tenebrae (1982) and several Italian films, particularly the works of Lucio Fulci and some of Lamberto Bava’s films in particular Demons (1985). In addition, there is the Australian Razorback (1984), the Japanese Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) and, from New Zealand, Peter Jackson’s first film Bad Taste (1988).

While I welcome the coverage of international films, the issue I have is that In Search of Darkness II still remains Americano-centric in its focus. The sole non-American interviewed is Shinya Tsukamoto who tells about the making of Tetsuo. In every other instance it is American interviewees giving their opinion about these films, which can sometimes be uninformed. Furthermore, American release dates are given for the films as opposed to the original dates in their country of origin – both Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead (1980) and The Beyond (1981) are listed as 1983 releases; Fulci’s The Black Cat (1981) and Argento’s Tenebrae (1982) as 1984 releases. Cannibal Holocaust (1979) is discussed in 1985, six years after it was released, where if the filmmakers were being true to the original release dates it should have fallen outside of the 1980s cut-off dates. Again, the relevance of some of the interviewees is stretched. I fail to understand what wrestler Chris Jericho or Corey Taylor of Slipknot have to add to anything, other than being horror fans.

Robert Englund interviewed in In Search of Darkness II: A Journey Into ’80s Horror Continues (2020)
Robert Englund interviewed

The film intersperses coverage with discussions of general themes. One of these themes is the Giallo Film, although you feel that the filmmakers have done the topic disservice. The 1980-89 cut-off came after giallo hit its peak – there is no discussion of Mario Bava’s creation of the genre in the 1960s, while the film also has to reach outside of its 1980s frame to use clips from some of Dario Argento’s works from the 1970s. Also the topic ends up being so broadly applied that giallo comes to mean any Italian horror film as opposed to its original meaning that refers to a series of stylised psycho-thrillers – thrown into the coverage are Italian zombie and cannibal films of this era, as well as a number of occult horror works.

When it comes to the section on character acting, the film has little to say. It is merely Kane Hodder telling us he originally wanted to be a mapmaker, Keith David a preacher and Barbara Crampton on the perils of aging out of roles. There are a couple of decent sections elsewhere devoted to Linnea Quigley and Robert Englund, who tell us how they lucked into becoming horror icons of the decade, while she gives the story of how she met husband-to-be makeup effects artist Steve Johnson while he was moulding her breast for the lipstick case scene in Night of the Demons (1988). There is also a decent section on videogames based on horror films, largely driven by James Rolfe aka the Angry Video Game Nerd.

There are some worthwhile moments – a defence of overlooked films like The Keep (1983) and Razorback. Clancy Brown, who proves a literate and informed interviewee, gives a well worthwhile summation of The Bride (1985) and praise for Angel Heart (1987), another underrated film. Jackie Kong is an hilarious interviewee on The Being (1983) and the should-have-been-a-cult classic Blood Diner (1987). Robert Englund makes for an interesting interviewee, especially when it comes to his defence of the failings of his directorial outing 976-Evil (1988) as not being the film he intended to make owing to producer interference.

One of the more interesting sections is when both Robert Englund and Robert Rusler are interviewed about A Nightmare on Elm Street Part II: Freddy’s Revenge (1985) and are quite open about the homo-erotic content being intended all along with Englund even going so far as to say he pushed for more. This comes quite in contrast to Mark Patton’s account of the history of denials all around in the documentary Scream Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street (2019).

There is brief focus on unmade projects, although this does not reveal much. Mick Garris tells of his original concept for The Fly II (1989) based around abortion rights activists; Bill Moseley tells of his pitching a sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3: Sawyers Take Manhattan and being rebuffed; and most interestingly Stuart Gordon discusses his unmade Shadow Over Innsmouth project.

Trailer here

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