As I type these words I’m sandwiched between two massive, french movie posters – From Beyond (1986) on one side, Re-Animator (1985) on the other. You see, despite being born in the mid ’90s, I was raised on ’80s horror. Ghostbusters (1984), Poltergeist (1982), The Lost Boys (1987)… These were the staples of my childhood, and I don’t think I’m alone in this. Despite when you were brought into this world, there is one thing all of us genre fans agree upon without a doubt – The 1980s were the best decade for horror.
Due to my own personal background and lifelong tastes, I felt an unmatched level of excitement when I first heard IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS was being made. I’ve seen my fair share of horror documentaries in my time, but nothing that strictly focused on the 1980s alone – About time, am I right? And it was so worth the wait…
IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS was everything I had hoped for and then some. With four and a half hours worth of content, I didn’t feel like anything was simply skimmed over. Splitting up the documentary year by year, with transitions focusing on specific elements defining each film was an extremely effective way of organizing this baby. I was completely enthralled the entire time, so much so that it truly did not feel like I had invested so much time.
I was honestly taken aback by how strong of a lineup this documentary had in terms of interviewees. You’ve got everything from podcasters and journalists, to actors and directors. If you need a handful of specifics, I’ll mention John Carpenter, Cassandra Peterson, Stuart Gordon, Greg Nicotero, Mick Garris… The list goes on, and on… But my honourable mention has got to be Tom Atkins. I could listen to this man talk all day. He is unbelievably charming, witty, hilarious… But I digress!
What I dug so hard about this was how casual it all felt. With interviews containing industry folks from all various levels (podcasters, directors, actors, make-up artists, etc), the conversation just felt so natural and jubilant. Rather than relying heavily on semantics and statistics, much of the theories shared were from deeply personal anecdotes – Why horror appealed to the individuals interviewed, and their own unique connections to the genre. I prefer this method through and through. The bond of horror fandom is so unique and special, it is why I love being part of the community in the city I reside and online… IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS managed this atmosphere via documentary, which was super rad, informative, and unlike anything else I’ve previously seen.
I loved all the areas explored, too – Music/sound design, nudity (Tom Atkins talking about his own butt, oh my god!), heroes, villains, practical effects… Nothing is left untouched. I keep goin’ off about how thorough this thing is, but it was absolutely captivating and everything I had been hoping for. I left IN SEARCH OF DARKNESS with a deeper understanding of this decade of horror, and seeing how impactful these films have been on so many of us genre fans was an incredibly meaningful experience for me. My watchlist also managed to expand ever so slightly, which is always welcomed. I cannot applaud creator David Weiner enough, as well as everyone else involved. This was absolute perfection, plain and simple. If you’re a fan of ’80s horror, or if you’re looking to learn more about it, be sure not to skip this. It is worth every minute, and every penny you invest.