In Search of Darkness Part II: A Documentary Review

Review by John Hammond

The Beginning

It's 1985, and a young lad has just been given his first VHS player/recorder by his mam for Christmas. A second hand one yes, and a top loader at that (with a remote control that was not very remote because it was wired).  Suffice to say, this lad was made up. Of course, I'm talking about myself, but here began many years of VHS rental.

Yes, mainly rental at that age, with pocket money allowing to buy ex-rentals on the cheap. VideoVision in Lancaster was my go-to place on weekends, and sometimes after school if I had a distinct lack of homework (which was rather more often than I let on). 

Those of a certain age will remember the VHS rental shops.  Depending on the size of the store, the selection was brilliant.  The 80’s action flicks, the comedies, but more importantly, the 80’s horror movies. As a lad, looking through the vast array of movies on offer, the ones that stood out more than others, were the horrors. Seriously, take a look at 80’s VHS movie covers (in fact, Google them) and you’ll see what I mean.

Look at the House movies, the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Return of the Living Dead etc. The artwork on show is incredible, really stands out, and will always be memorable. Thankfully, I got to know the owner of the store, I became friends with her own children, and I used to hang out each weekend for a few hours. This meant that I was also able to take a selection of horror movies home to watch. Naughty I know, but where would my love have grown otherwise?

But, I digress...

Fast forward nearly 40 years, and I'm still a massive fan of this era of horror, as nothing has come close to matching how wide, and weird the genre was back then. Moving on, we have already had part 1 of an 80’s horror love-in by way of 2019’s In Search of Darkness documentary.  An almost perfect featutre, but I do believe that we get absolute perfection here with In Search of Darkness Part II?  Thanks to the fine people @80sHorrorDoc, I was a true honour to be one of the chosen few to receive a press screener, I can tell you!

It's always easy to say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, and that's certainly true here. Not only have they ‘not fixed it’, but they've managed to improve on something that was already an almost perfect documentary.

Much like its predecessor, In Search of Darkness Part II is split into years, and around 5 horror movies from that year are discussed by actors, directors and critics (Tom Savini, Robert Englund and Linnea Quigley all feature with some great, fun stories). Lots of them returning from the original, but some new faces are also along for the ride.

In between each year, you'll find little segments, bonuses if you will. These are on a variety of topics, including individual performers, and the growth of the 8-bit videogames based on several horror greats. One segment that took my interest more than others was one about unrealised horror projects: fascinating stuff and one I will be going back to.
As an aside, and because I mention the lovely Linnea Quigley, you might want to check this little gem out – Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout

It could be said that In Search of Darkness Part II realises the potential of the first part, and that would be a fair assumption. Potential realised? Check. Remember, this (as well as the first part) is a four-and-a-half-hour documentary, and at no point do they repeat a franchise; this is an impressive feat. Each movie on offer gives us an idea of how strange and weird horror could be in the 1980’s. I mean, come on, what sort of genre can give you rape revenge horror one year, and then a family friendly musical another? This shows how versatile horror in that decade could be.

The variety of movies being talked about here is quite amazing. You will also find that, in this second part, there are more of the so-called cult classics and hidden gems than are usually spoken of. You may well find that you haven’t heard of many of the movies, but that’s fine because you're about to be introduced to some wonderful 80’s, horror beauties. Like the first, In Search of Darkness Part II will require you to have a pen and paper at the ready, you WILL make notes of all the movies that you NEED to see.

In Search of Darkness Part II contains a wealth of information throughout, and it does a great job of not making it feel overwhelming. You'll marvel at seeing horror icons talking about such wonderful movies. You'll also become aware that there are still plenty of movies that could, or should, be spoken of a lot more than they have been. I hope therefore, that we get to see an In Search of Darkness Part III at some point in the future. With the success of the first part, and without doubt part 2, a third instalment should be a given... right? 

I asked the question earlier if we could get perfection with In Search of Darkness Part II., and the answer is an emphatic YES. This takes everything that was great about the first entry, and makes it better.

So many great stories are named and discussed throughout, In Search of Darkness Part II is both funny and fascinating, taking you on a wondrous 4 ½ journey through the annals of 80’s horror. A wealth of stars, such as John Carpenter, Alex Winter, Nancy Allen and Jackie Kong to name just a few, help make this truly memorable. I cannot recommend it more.

If you happened to miss getting your copy originally, the @80sHorrorDoc team have a flash sale that's running until the 14th of February 2021. If 80’s horror is your thing then please, support the guys and buy yourself a Blu-ray copy. Not only do you get the disc, but it also comes with 3 posters, an enamel pin (while stocks last), digital versions of parts 1 and 2, and a community season pass on Discord! Oh, and there’s free shipping too!

Check out the flash sale trailer here (you might even notice a Fantastic Universes writer in there).

Let us know what you think, and if you'll be getting hold of a copy. Make sure that you let the @80sHorrorDoc team know who sent you.

Images and Press Release Courtesy of @80sHorrorDoc


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