We’re currently living in a rare period for genre cinema. Suddenly, it has moved into the mainstream and filling multiplexes around the globe. Films like Get Out, It Follows, Midsommar, Us and Hereditary have proved to be critically and commercially successful; becoming almost instant cult classics. However, the golden age for horror films was undoubtedly in the 1980s. It marked the beginning, and continuation, of several much-loved franchises and produced some of the most recognisable faces.
As David A. Weiner’s new documentary In Search of Darkness attests, there were far too many good and influential films released that decade to fit into a standard viewing format. With a duration of over four hours, it might seem daunting, but it just leaves you wanting more. As you’d expect, it relies heavily on a myriad of talking heads to guide us chronologically through the decade. These are a refreshing mix of industry professionals and critics, who add a rare perspective on countless movies.
Instead of just simply charting the most famous releases from the era, In Search of Darkness delves deeper into a world of VHS, video nasties and low-budget carnage. It’s a great introduction to the time for a genre novice whilst adding insight after insight for die-hard horror afficionados. As well as discussing the most significant releases, Weiner’s film also dips into themes and tropes. It’s a fascinating documentary which simply flies by. The only criticism is that it’s simply not long enough to be able to do justice to wealth of talent involved in creating these iconic and entertaining movies.
In Search of Darkness premieres on Shudder on 30 July.