In Search of Darkness Part II is a documentary that explores in-depth the golden age of horror...the 80s, containing interviews with people like Robert Englund and Barbara Crampton, and includes glimpses to some of horror's most controversial, influential, and downright strange films.
In Search of Darkness: Part II Review
It's always more challenging reviewing a documentary. They aren't held to the same standards as a "traditional" film, with the emphasis of its quality placed on its accuracy, intrigue, proper balance of b-roll and interviews, and the ability to tell a cohesive story through a fluid and unscripted format. So how does In Search of Darkness Part II hold up in those categories?
ISoD doesn't follow traditional documentary structure. It behaves more like a 4-hour showcase of 80s horror, diving into well-knowns, cornerstones, cult classics, and obscure entries in the genre. Along the way we get gruesome clips from the films while horror actors and filmmakers inside and outside of the film give their takes on the film's significance and/or impact on horror and its audience.
Most documentaries, no matter how much they try to avoid it, inevitably have an agenda or message. ISoD's message is tamer than its content...it's just trying to drive home that the 80's were the golden age for horror, and that's a commonly accepted belief anyways. There was a charm, creativity, and determination in 80's horror that will likely never be recreated. Budgets were pushed to their limits with creative techniques that boasted the power of pre-CG effects, while dedicated actors found their niche in the horror genre and either fell in love or found it an inescapable typecasting. Favors were shook on rather than deals signed. Directors cut corners and found a way to get their vision when big studios shot them down. Practical effects had to be created with believable effect through minimal budget via the clever use of household items, lighting, and cutting. It's sometimes a more fascinating story how these films got made than the film itself.
ISoD is a sentiment-inducing nostalgia overload that diehard horror fans will love. It gets into a rhythm of its structure of going through movies and doesn't stop. It isn't profound or unique, but it does have a lot of fun, insight, and heart. There is plenty of behind-the-scenes knowledge and insight we are brought into we likely didn't know before, and that makes it worth watching, even in installments over a couple of days. I'd suggest casually checking it out on Shudder when you get a chance.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 5/10
Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 7/10