Starring Barbara Crampton, John Carpenter, Kelli Maroney, Ryan Turek, Joe Dante, Larry Cohen, Kane Hodder
Written by David A. Weiner
Directed by David Weiner
Big hair, shoulder pads, and MTV. Reagan and the AIDS epidemic. Horror movies in the eighties reflected everything that was going on in the world at the time. Whether you became a horror fan from growing up in the eighties like I did, or you just appreciate the most iconic era in horror, In Search of Darkness: The Definitive ‘80s Horror Documentary is a must-watch.
Written and directed by David A. Weiner and executive produced by Robin Block of CreatorVC Studios, In Search of Darkness clocks in at over four hours long and was made possible with the help of Indiegogo and Kickstarter campaigns that includes over four thousand backers from around the world. Weiner told me this is a film “for the fans, by the fans,” and the extraordinary amount of work and love for genre film that was put into it proves that to be true.
In Search of Darkness takes a deep dive into the world of eighties horror starting with 1980 and meticulously journeys through the decade. Along the way are more than forty enthralling interviews with genre talent that includes actors, filmmakers, and masters of the magnificent practical effects that were used in the eighties.
There are intimate conversations with Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond), John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing), Mick Garris (Critters 2, The Stand), Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling), Cassandra Peterson (horror host, “Elvira, Mistress of the Dark”), Heather Langenkamp (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Kelli Maroney (Chopping Mall), Tom Atkins (Halloween III: Season of the Witch), Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th series), Tom Holland (Fright Night), and so many more.
The editing is exceptional, and the film also features discussions with industry experts and pop culture commentators interwoven with scenes from some of the greatest horror movies of the eighties. People like Joe Bob Briggs (The Last Drive-In), Phil Nobile Jr. (Editor-in-Chief, Fangoria magazine), Ryan Turek (producer Halloween ), Heather Wixson (author and Managing Editor, Daily Dead), and James Rolfe (YouTube creator, Angry Video Game Nerd and Cinnemassacre) all weigh in with their thoughts on what makes eighties horror so great and still relevant today. Even the soundtracks of eighties horror and why music had such an impact on movies is covered in this film.
There are secrets and observations about the magic of practical effects from experts like Mark Shostrum (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), Greg Nicotero (Evil Dead II, The Walking Dead), and Tom Woodruff, Jr. (The Monster Squad). In Search of Darkness also includes some incredible and sometimes hilarious behind-the-scenes stories, like the story of how Bill Moseley landed the role of Chop Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.
Why and how things like Reaganomics and the AIDS epidemic were represented in eighties horror movies is examined. In Search of Darkness covers everything you know, or think you know, about eighties horror in a way that is educational and always fun. There is just so much information in this documentary, and even at about four hours long, it’s never boring. In fact, I was thoroughly engrossed in every minute of it and based on the smile that crept across my face several times while watching In Search of Darkness, I wouldn’t mind a bit if it was even longer.
This documentary is so wonderfully done that it should appeal to anyone, of any age, who has an interest in learning about the history of horror, why the eighties will always be the most important decade for the genre, and the people behind-the-scenes who made the magic happen. In Search of Darkness isn’t just about nostalgia, it’s an all-encompassing, delightfully spooky love letter to eighties horror. To loosely borrow from Tom Atkins in Night of the Creeps, I have to say that this documentary definitely managed to “thrill me.”
In Search of Darkness is a brilliant, panoramic love letter to eighties horror.