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In Search of Darkness Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by CreatorVC Studios

In Search Of Darkness Large

Written and directed by David A. Weiner
2019, 420 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 31st, 2019

Starring:
Cassandra Peterson as Herself
Bill Moseley as Himself
John Carpenter as Himself
Keith David as Himself
Heather Langenkamp as Herself
Jeffrey Combs as Himself
Caroline Williams as Herself
Barbara Crampton as Herself
Kane Hodder as Himself
Tom Atkins as Himself
Diana “Darcy the Mail Girl” Prince as Herself
Greg Nicotero as Himself
Joe Bob Briggs as Himself
Joe Dante as Himself
AND MANY, MANY MORE….

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Review:

I’m going to start off by making an assumption (though I doubt it’s one that will make an ass out of me): If you’re reading this, then you’re a horror fan. It seems a safe bet. I can also assume that you’ve heard of In Search of Darkness by now. With its massively successful Kickstarter campaign and heavy buzz, I don’t think there are too many horror fans that are going, “Wow. I had no idea someone was aiming to make a ludicrously long and definitive documentary on the horror of the ‘80s!”

That is a bold statement, for sure. Using the word definitive is a tad clichéd, but at least it lets everyone know that you have a “go big or go home” mission statement. Luckily for all of us in the horror community, In Search of Darkness is a labor of love that takes a shot akin to the one Jason Vorhees gave that poor cocky boxer in Friday the 13th Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan. While no documentary is absolutely perfect, I’m pleased to say that metaphorical decapitation is also the end result here – glorious, nostalgic, bloody decapitation.

At a running time of four hours and twenty minutes, it’s an investment on your time that won’t feel like an endurance contest by any stretch of the imagination. Quite the opposite – the time flies by and there’s still room for so much more! If there’s any complaint to be had (aside from one very obnoxious contributor who pops up a little too frequently), it’s the inevitable dig of what movie got left out. I’ll start: no love for Night of the Demons or Waxwork?! Where the hell is Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning?! Not one mention of Bad Taste or Pieces?! What in the actual fuck is that happy crappy?! But, I digress…I’ll get lost if I go too far down that road.

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The setup is nothing game changing. It plays out like most nostalgia-based documentaries do; think every clip show you’ve ever seen where a rotation of notable people talk about what’s great about the film or topic. Laid out in a year-by-year format, a collection of the most noteworthy (i.e. the box office winners, by and large) films are examined at a fairly rapid pace. Peppered in as well are the themes/trends of the genre at that time: “The Final Girl”, “SFX artists”, “Score and Sound Design”, “Horror Fandom”, et cetera. The overall presentation moves smoothly with high entertainment value and keeps a smile plastered on your face.

The big win here is the loaded lineup of horror icons (with some noteworthy critics and horror minds like Phil Nobile, Michael Gingold, and Heather Wixson thrown in the mix) that provide the analysis and gushing love for the greatest decade in horror history. It’s a serious glut of luminaries and big brains providing behind-the-scenes looks and a cubic fuckton of quotable lines and literal LOL moments. It’s also one hell of a primer for younger fans who didn’t get to live through the decade firsthand.

That’s sort of the point of the whole affair: There’s no real argument that the ‘80s were the high-water mark for the genre, a time when originality and creativity were the norm and the remakes were few and far between (and epic, like The Fly or The Thing). What In Search of Darkness does is celebrate that amazing decade and all the killer films it spawned in unabashed fanboy style. The breakdown on “Score and Sound Design” is solid gold; the variety of voices and input is eye-opening and beautifully illustrates the power of music in a genre that leans heavily on it. “The Final Girl segment gives you the truth in thoughtful, concise fashion of the decade from the women who went through all the pros and cons of the gratuitous nudity and stereotypes. Also, the in-depth comparison of the werewolf transformations from The Howling and An American Werewolf in London shows the value of expert testimony and highlights details on the two that I’d never considered. Great stuff!

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In much the same way that In Search of Darkness is bound to leave off some of your favorites, I won’t sit here and talk about every little detail/comment/anecdote that hit home for this lifelong horror junkie. It would simply take too long. Suffice to say that what you’re in store for is a documentary that is as comprehensive as any can be when it comes to covering an entire decade of horror films. The nostalgia factor is off the charts, and the stories told are from the heart. I was genuinely moved to hear Keith David speaking about his time with the late, great “Rowdy” Roddy Piper on the set of They Live or to see the obvious love for our Godfather, George A. Romero.

There are also nice little surprises to be had even in the individual film breakdowns. For example, I’d never thought of David Cronenberg’s brilliant remake of The Fly as being that allegorical of a film. I dig on Brian Yuzna’s Society, but they really highlight how hideously relevant it is. And that clip of Bill Moseley in his infamous “Texas Chainsaw Manicure” short film that scored him the part of Chop Top and changed his life?! What a treat that is!

Perhaps the highlight (amongst many) is the “Horror Fandom” segment. You’re treated to this stellar lineup speaking from the heart about what we already know: How diverse, inclusive, deep, and in touch the horror fanbase is. We grew up the rejected and the ridiculed, the excluded and picked on. Now we are a part of something much larger, a family that shows more love to its heroes than any other. It’ll make you proud to be a part of a family where the Saw is revered and we learned at an early age that getting stoned and having premarital sex is a surefire ticket to getting cut in half. Kane Hodder said it best: “There is no stereotypical horror fan.”

That’s so true. We are an army from all walks of life, and In Search of Darkness celebrates that with pride and honor. That’s what this documentary is at the end of the day – a virtual horror convention where you can spend nearly four-and-a-half hours listening to your heroes tell their stories and watch your favorite clips while you exclaim, “Fuck yes! I love that scene!”, and shovel the popcorn in your facehole.

That’s what I call nostalgic magic. Embrace it.

In Search Of Darkness 07 In Search Of Darkness 08

Grades:

Movie: Fivestars In Search Of Darkness Small
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About The Author
Stuart Monroe
Staff Writer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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