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In Search of Darkness Part II Review [2]

April 26, 2021 | Posted by Joseph Lee
In Search of Darkness Part II
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In Search of Darkness Part II Review [2]  

Directed By: David A. Weiner

Written by: David A. Weiner

Story: The follow-up to In Search of Darkness dives deeper into the practical-effects decade of ’80s horror movies with all-new interviews from genre icons and industry experts alongside the original cast.

Horror fans do tend to love talking about the genre for hours, but it seems documentaries within the genre like to test that theory. Some of the best horror documentaries are also incredibly long and comprehensive, such as Never Sleep Again for the Elm Street movies and Crystal Lake Memories for the Friday the 13th series. The first In Search of Darkness looked to go even further, by examining an entire decade of horror, full of talking heads that were big then discussing some of the biggest gems the 1980s had to offer.

For the most part, the four-and-a-half hour documentary was a success. On the other hand, it was limited by the fact that it was trying to fit a decade of movies into four and a half hours. Some movies got short-changed and bizarrely, the movie selections were questionable. 1985’s Demons and Lifeforce got ignored for The Howling II. 1987’s Predator and The Gate get ignored in favor of It’s Alive III. The Stepfather and Critters aren’t mentioned, instead we get their sequels. One of the biggest flaws of the original was trying to be comprehensive while skipping the bigger movies based on who they had available to interview. It’s understandable, but it made for a head-scratching experience at times.

But now, CreatorVC is looking to do something that seems fitting given the decade: they’ve made a sequel. So this gave them a chance (and another four-and-a-half hours) to cover everything they missed the first time around. They’ve even got more people to talk about the movies, including Tom Savini, Robert Englund and Linnea Quigley, who weren’t available last time. They joined a group that also includes everyone from Doug Bradley and Kane Hodder to Sean Cunningham, Jeffrey Combs, Heather Langenkamp, Cassandra Peterson and scores of others. So is the sequel able to live up to the original or surpass it? Does this make the entire (nine hour!) experience as comprehensive a look at the decade of horror as one would hope?

Well, I’ll go ahead and say that this one, somehow, feels longer than the last. It could be because while the first film spotlighted a little over eighty movies, this spotlights just over sixty and instead adds more extraneous segments. I get their inclusion, particularly with the actors that weren’t included last time going briefly over their filmography last time. But at the same time, time management was a serious issue and there were still big horror movies of the decade left out. Movies like Prom Night and Critters are briefly mentioned, but otherwise not covered. The Stepfather, Lifeforce and others likewise go unmentioned. I’d argue for Ghostbusters‘ inclusion as well, especially as it takes time to cover Little Shop of Horrors and Beetlejuice.

With a majority of the major films getting covered here, it seems the selections were made just to throw in whatever could be thrown in without rhyme or reason. I can’t think of any reason to include a film like Nightmare over something like The Gate. Or Cellar Dweller over The Prowler. Those films might have their fans, but if you’re looking to make a definitive look at the decade, the movies that get skipped are headscratchers.

Is that nitpicking? Probably. But it does speak to the film’s lack of flow and pacing issues. The sequel is definitely meant to be more of a companion piece, and so if you watched it right after the first you might get more. You’d also have to devote an entire day to doing that unless you watched in spurts. But structurally, it’s overall fine but feels stretched out for the sake of it. It’s a little more disorganized than the last time, including general talking segments with only a general theme, including one that goes over video games for some reason.

That said, there are some great additions. With the additions of actors like Robert Englund or Linnea Quigley going over their careers, we can some more movies spotlighted that way. I can’t think of another way to rightfully talk about Quigley’s horror workout or ask Englund why he doesn’t direct anymore. The latter wouldn’t have been possible otherwise, as 976-Evil was covered in the first film. The section covering the influences of the genre and how everything is cyclical was also appreciated.

While the fact that certain movies were still left out is slightly irritating, you can’t say they didn’t do some deep dives with this one. The overall theme, suggested at the end, seems to be opening eyes to movies they’ve never seen before. As a result, we get most of the major Italian movies of the decade covered. We get movies covered that are underrated gems like Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II or Angel Heart. We even get movies that perhaps hardcore fans (such as myself) haven’t heard of. I wasn’t even aware movies like The Boogens or The Being or Razorback existed, and now they’re on my list to watch. So in that sense, it’s a success.

I have a sneaking suspicion that there will be a third entry in this series. It may not be as long, but there are still plenty of titles that could be covered, if they wanted to everything. The possibilities are endless with this kind of film. Already CreatorVC is working on a sci-fi version called In Search of Tomorrow, which is where I’m sure things like Aliens or Predator will get covered. And just imagine if they end up jumping decades. 90s horror had a different style and tone entirely and saw big cultural changes in the genre. There are a lot of possibilities that could keep a series like this going for some time to come.

In Search of Darkness Part 2 is not as good as the first. It’s the same length but somehow feels longer, the movie selection remains puzzling at times and it doesn’t feel as tightly paced. But it’s still very enjoyable, has a lot of new additions and with the amount of deep dives it makes, it could open the eyes of horror fans to movies they’ve never heard of before. That makes it a win and a worthy successor.

In Search of Darkness Part II will be available on Shudder starting tomorrow.

7.0
The final score: review Good
The 411
While In Search of Darkness Part II has pacing issues and puzzling film selections, it's still a solid (if overly long) documentary about a decade that was just an abundance of riches for the genre. It serves as a nice primer for new fans or even hardcore fans that may be hoping to find something new. Recommended if you have a lot of time to devote to it.
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