When the rapidly successful In Search of Darkness (David A. Weiner, 2019) hit screens audiences were gripped by its engrossing take on eighties horror and critics were enthralled by the absorbing and ambitious love letter to what is possibly one of the greatest decades in horror. Thus, it’s no surprise that In Search of Darkness: Part II burst onto the scene with deserved appraisal.
After how much content was covered the first four and half hour entry, it bears the worry that Part II would just be a replica and repetitive. However, what we get instead is a more unique and refreshing film that delves into a variety of horror sub topics and a delightfully varied array of films that combined both well-known classics and some more obscure gems that thrived in the 1980s. The film relies heavily on reminiscence and a nostalgic sensibility, yet there is no bounding exclusivity that confines new spectators to the decade; in fact the film is almost an educative bible for those new to horror, acting as a vivacious horror encyclopaedia.
The four hour long runtime can be intimidating even for seasoned cinema fans, but the film uses cleverly placed sections to not only aid an easy digest for such a long runtime, but to also add depth to the surrounding contexts. As each year is discussed an additional associated topic is presented, with some of the highlighted subjects including the ever present ‘Cinema Horror Italiano- Giallo‘ and the ‘80s Italian Invasion’. Here, we are given a detailed depiction as to why Giallo cinema lingered throughout the decade and how the three maestros ‘Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava’ ruled in power, with their graphically horrifying and pathbreaking filmmaking taking centre stage in their filmography.
Part II takes what worked well in its predecessor and accelerated it; the remarkable line-up consists of some of the biggest contributors within horror, including Tom Atkins, Linnea Quigley, Caroline Williams, John Carpenter, Tom Savini, Joe Dante, Robert Englund, and Cassandra Peterson. This comprehensive cast list had heaps of involvement within eighties horror, introducing a sense of richness to the production, with plenty of behind the scenes knowledge bringing new light to the classics.
Speaking of classics, Part II divulges into a medley of films ranging from slashers to harrowing revenge tales. Rather than solely discussing the big mainstream hits of the decade, we are shown the somewhat forgotten hits such as Alone in the Dark (Jack Sholder, 1982), April Fool’s Day (Fred Walton, 1986), Mother’s Day (Charles Kaufman, 1980), Vamp (Richard Wenk, 1986), and House (Steve Miner, 1985). To accompany each film is an enlightening insight into the cultural context that most of these films were released in.
One particular area that is deeply discussed in relation to Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (Fred Olen Ray, 1988) is the video nasties. As home video soared so did the number of so-called ‘exploitative’ horror films on the market. Unfortunately, due to a mass moral panic over the British public’s wellbeing, 72 films were banned in the UK over fears of them corrupting children’s minds. Part II divulges into this important era for horror through discussing both the absurdity of the nasties and which films were the most prominent.
The film is clearly a demonstration of dedication to a beloved genre. From the outset a sense of togetherness is displayed, that depicts horror as a one-of-a-kind genre that manifests devoted fan bases and remarkable characters that linger within pop culture. Whether or not you are a diehard eighties fan or a newcomer, In Search of Darkness: Part II has something for everyone.
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We interviewed creator Robin Block and director David A. Weiner back in October 2020, in an exclusive interview for the festival where we played Part I to celebrate the release of Part II.
Check it out below: