In Search of Darkness: Part II

 

starstarhalf

 


Part II of this devilish documentary series exhumes even more vintage 1980s' horror.

 
Robert Englund

Robert Englund elaborates

   

Writer-director David Weiner and the team at CreatorVC Studios successfully launched their 1980s horror opus In Search of Darkness in 2019. Conceived, produced and distributed in a mere 18 months, the feature was successfully crowdfunded via campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, amassing over $350k dollars. Featuring interviews with filmmakers and horror icons, who discuss the evolution and lasting influence of 1980s’ horror, the four-and-a-half-hour monster doc was made with fans in mind. As with every successful horror movie, here is its inevitable sequel, another leviathan clocking in exactly one minute shorter than its predecessor. Utilizing hours of additional footage, Part II follows the same year-by-year exploration, covering additional films that didn’t make the first cut. Between each ‘year’ there are a variety of supplemental featurettes on topics such as Giallo horror, unproduced films, and the careers of industry titans such as the ‘Sultan of Splatter’ Tom Savini.

 

For the horror aficionado who hasn’t seen it all, this is certainly a rich resource. Even diehard genre fans will no doubt come away with a list of films to track down. In this sense, it is perhaps more useful to its targeted audience than the first iteration, which primarily focused on more well-known titles. Like dumpster-diving at a Blockbuster, the sequel culls the VHS store shelves, churning out titles such as C.H.U.D., Cellar Dweller and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. There are surprises to be sure, such as a bizarre early entry from director Peter Jackson. In his film Bad Taste, Jackson plays a chainsaw-wielding alien exterminator who wears a belt on his head to keep his leaking brains intact. The underrated campy spoof Saturday the 14th also garners a mention, featuring Jeffrey Tambor as the vampire Waldemar. More recognisable entries in the mix include Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice and Frank Oz’s brilliant Little Shop of Horrors, which has thankfully seen its original ending restored in a Director’s Cut Blu-Ray.

 

Despite including some lighter fare, the documentary is often hard to watch. The ‘kill shots’ alone seem to encompass nearly half of the overall running time. Scenes that are particularly difficult include the fascination with eye-gouging in Giallo horror, the real animal deaths from the film Cannibal Holocaust, as well as numerous clips from exploitation films, coined the ‘video nasties’ in the UK. With a combined running time of nearly nine hours, completing In Search of Darkness is no small task. It would be best suited to a series format, with each episode covering one year in the decade. Blending the documentaries together would also help strike a greater balance in the overall selection of films. Those searching for darkness will find it here, in a documentary that certainly puts the retro in retrospective. At times this secondary venture really scrapes the bottom of the nuclear cinematic waste barrel. One can only wonder what VHS phantasms will be unearthed in the recently announced Part III. 

 

CHAD KENNERK

 

Featuring  Nancy Allen, Tom Atkins, Doug Bradley, Clancy Brown, John Carpenter, Nick Castle, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Robert Englund, Stuart Gordon, Tom Holland, Heather S. Langenkamp, Cassandra Peterson, Linnea Quigley, Tom Savini, Gedde Watanabe, Alex Winter, Brian Yuzna.

 

Dir David A. Weiner, Pro Night Madson, Kevin Proctor, Daniel Squarini, David A. Weiner and Madeleine Woods, Screenplay David A. Weiner, Ph Oktay Ortabasi, Ed Samuel Way, Music Weary Pines.

 

CreatorVC.

263 mins. USA. 2020. US Rel: 5 February 2021. No Cert.