A Lengthy Magnum Opus: Our Review of ‘In Search of Darkness’ on Shudder

A Lengthy Magnum Opus: Our Review of ‘In Search of Darkness’ on Shudder

So you’ve never seen a horror movie?

Hitting Shudder tomorrow, In Search Of Darkness is the kind of movie that could make your butt go numb…and at a whopping 264 minute run time, no one would blame you.  However this is the ultimate deep dive into the genre of horror and the decade of the 1980’s as it quite literally leaves no stone unturned as it makes for a fantastic experience for viewers that range on the horror spectrum from virginal all the way to blood soaked veterans.

Tracking major theatrical releases, obscure titles and straight-to-video gems, this four-plus-hour documentary explores ‘80s horror films year-by-year. Topics include groundbreaking practical effects; the home-video revolution; poster art and project marketing; creative and budgetary challenges; sound design and musical scores; the 3-D resurgence; heroes and villains; sex, nudity and “the final girl” controversy; and the pop culture context that fueled the genre. Filled with countless clips and entertaining moments, In Search of Darkness is a nostalgia trip through a game-changing decade, as told by both experts and the icons that influenced the modern landscape of genre cinema. Featuring Tom Atkins, Doug Bradley, Joe Bob Briggs, Darcy the Mail Girl, Lori Cardille, John Carpenter, Nick Castle, Larry Cohen, Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, Sean S. Cunningham, Joe Dante, Keith David, Katie Featherston, Mick Garris, Michael Gingold, Stuart Gordon, Andre Gower, Spencer Hickman, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Graham Humphreys, James A. Janisse, Lloyd Kaufman, Eric Kurland , Heather Langenkamp, Don Mancini, Harry Manfredini, Kelli Maroney, Robbi Morgan, Bill Moseley, Greg Nicotero, Phil Nobile Jr., Cassandra Peterson, Mike Redman, James Rolfe, Ken Sagoes, Ben Scrivens, Mark Shostrom, Corey Taylor, Cecil Trachenburg, Ryan Turek, Caroline Williams, Alex Winter, Heather Wixson, Tom Woodruff Jr., and Brian Yuzna.

If you’ve never actually signed up for the Shudder streaming service, now might actually be the time.  There’s no honest reason why this marathon that is In Search Of Darkness works as well as it does…except perhaps that it actually comes from a legitimate place of honesty and love as it rolls down the decade that was horror in the 1980’s.

Writer/Director David A Weiner mounts something that would have only ever worked on a streaming platform, its epic beyond belief as the film doesn’t skimp in anyway shape or form.

Each film that this movie tackles (and trust us there’s ALOT of them, far too many too count or list) is really allowed time to breathe.  That in concert with the bigger issues that it tackles like how the genre was so key to the home video boom, the genuine acceptance of the female action heroine and how so many of these films did so very much with truly so very little get looked into with GREAT detail and somehow this all works not only for the hard core devotee of the genre and the era, but for anyone coming in with a fresh set of eyes.

Weiner made something that is simply about the love of film and how a genre that can be critically underrated has been so influential on not just modern cinema but on pop culture as a whole.  This film takes very special care to remind us that horror films for MOST of the decade of the 1980’s, were not only pretty damn fun but have made some significant commentary and influences so many types of storytelling that are still hitting the screen all across the globe.  It’s not trying to be academic or talk above its station; every single subject in this documentary knows the subject and embraces it for what it is, even when there’s the occasional and obvious wart on something.  Some of it is fantastic filmmaking, and some of it is exploitive trash…but there’s never any confusion on which is which and it all gets the time it deserves.

Ultimately, In Search of Darkness is something that any fan of the moving image should probably see.  It’s a great refresher on the rich history of cinema and with his companion piece, In Search of Tomorrow that tackles 80’s science-fiction already in pre-production, I’ll gladly get comfortable to see his next 4.5 hour pop culture deep dive.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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