Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Review: In Search of Darkness

I’m a big horror movie fan, and I love the 1980s. So, I was very excited when I heard about In Search of Darkness – a horror documentary solely focused on the 1980s. Many consider the 1980s to be the golden age of horror movies. After all, it was the decade that brought us Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Halloween sequels featuring Michael Myers, Hellraiser, Creepshow, Gremlins, The Lost Boys, and so much more. It’s also the decade when VCRs and VHS tapes became immensely popular, resulting in a wave of direct-to-video horror films for fans to enjoy. Clocking in at over four hours, In Search of Darkness covers all aspects of 1980s’ horror, and it features interviews with nearly 50 contributors. Some of these contributors include icons such as John Carpenter, Heather Lagenkamp, Doug Bradley, Kane Hodder, and Mick Garris, among others. Directed by David A. Weiner and filmed and finalized within 12 months, this documentary is a monumental achievement, especially considering this is the first film directed by Weiner.

What I Don’t Love

In Search of Darkness is available for a limited time only. You can buy it between now and October 31 for $60, which is a steep price. Never Sleep Again, which many consider to be the greatest horror documentary of all time, full price is only $30 and it’s around the same length as In Search of Darkness. Yes, In Search of Darkness includes a digital copy and some tchotchkes, but is that really worth an additional $30? Keep in mind, Never Sleep Again is currently $17 on Amazon. Or you can buy a double-feature Blu-ray featuring Never Sleep Again and Crystal Lake Memories, another great horror documentary, for less than $30 on Amazon. If money is tight, you also have to consider that In Search of Darkness costs more than an annual subscription to Shudder, a phenomenal streaming service that provides fans with access to hundreds, if not thousands, of horror films, TV shows, and documentaries every year. I’d love to buy In Search of Darkness, but I can’t justify the price of admission. If you can, then I highly suggest you go for it.

Aside from the price, another complaint I have about In Search of Darkness is that Robert Englund wasn’t contacted to be a part of this documentary. I spoke with the director and I was surprised by this. David told me that he felt A Nightmare on Elm Street was represented well enough by the individuals they chose to interview, and I understand that point of view. However, Robert Englund was in more horror movies than just the A Nightmare on Elm Street series in the 1980s. Also, he’s arguably the most successful and popular 1980s horror star, so him not being present in this documentary feels like there’s a big gaping hole. If you aren’t a fan of Robert or his work, then this won’t matter to you. But I wanted to make sure this was noted, so people know what they’re getting as well as what they’re not getting.

I also noticed that certain individuals dominate a significant portion of the documentary. It would have been better to reduce their screen time by adding other interviewees to the mix or simply editing it to give everyone equal time. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed this.What I Do Love

My favorite part of this documentary is how many films are covered. It’s really incredible, and I found myself saying out loud “I’ve got to watch that movie!” as it was being discussed in the documentary. In Search of Darkness serves as a comprehensive resource of horror films to check out, if you’re a big fan like I am.

I also love how in between the years, there are subcategories that serve as palate cleansers. They include holiday-themed horror movies, women in horror, and more. They’re a great way to break up this long documentary and keep things fresh.

The soundtrack for In Search of Darkness is also excellent. There are only a few tracks, but they are effective and fun to listen to. If you love the music from Stranger Things, you’ll be right at home with this score.Final Verdict

In Search of Darkness is a great documentary. I’m very impressed by the fact that it was completed within one year, and that it’s as polished as it is considering those time constraints. I enjoyed all of the contributors’ thoughts, as well as the deep dive into each of the years and subcategories throughout this film. As mentioned earlier, I do think it’s overpriced, which is why I won’t be buying it at this time. However, if the price doesn’t scare you off, In Search of Darkness is an excellent documentary that’s worth your time.

To give you a taste of what to expect, below is a list of the films covered in this documentary.

1980:
– The Fog
– The Changeling
– Friday the 13th
– The Shining
– Dressed to Kill
– Fade to Black
– Motel Hell
– Maniac

1981:
– Scanners
– My Bloody Valentine
– The Howling
– The Burning
– An American Werewolf in London
– Full Moon High
– The Evil Dead
– Halloween II
– Ghost Story

1982:
– Cat People
– Basket Case
– Poltergeist
– The Thing
– Halloween III: Season of the Witch
– Q
– Creepshow

1983:
– Videodrome
– The Hunger
– Psycho II
– Cujo
– Sleepaway Camp
– Christine

1984:
– Children of the Corn
– Friday the 13th IV: The Final Chapter
– Firestarter
– Gremlins
– A Nightmare on Elm Street
– Night of the Comet

1985:
– The Company of Wolves
– The Stuff
– Day of the Dead
– Fright Night
– The Return of the Living Dead
– The Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf
– Silver Bullet
– Re-Animator

1986:
– Chopping Mall
– The Toxic Avenger
– Poltergeist II: The Other Side
– Psycho III
– Maximum Overdrive
– Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
– The Fly
– Night of the Creeps
– Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
– From Beyond

1987:
– Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
– Dolls
– Evil Dead II
– It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive
– The Lost Boys
– The Monster Squad
– Hellraiser
– Near Dark

1988:
– Critters 2
– Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
– Killer Klowns From Outer Space
– Phantasm II
– The Blob
– Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
– Lair of the White Worm
– Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
– Pumpkinhead
– Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers
– They Live
– Child’s Play
– Hellbound: Hellraiser II

1989:
– The ‘Burbs
– 976-EVIL
– Pet Sematary
– Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
– Stepfather II
– Society

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