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{Movie Review} In Search Of Darkness ll (2020)

All This Machine Does Is Swim, And Eat, And Make Little Sharks


In Search of Darkness ll opens with horror icons recounting their first time watching a horror movie, which made me think of mine.

According to my mother my first was a result of, “we didn’t think you’d understand, so we didn’t see the harm of you watching Jaws (1975) as a toddler.” Turns out, I understood just fine. So much so, that I ran a fever, which meant my mother ran me a bath. A few days before, the sound of the water running would have caused me to sprint to the bathroom, excited to play in the tub. After watching Jaws, there was no way in hell I was going in that tub. It wasn’t safe to get into that water either.

After seeing a shark eat an entire boat, my toddler’s brain was convinced that the infamous shark was eating its way through our walls in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

So, I fought hard and won. I didn’t take a bath, or sleep with the lights off, again until I was twelve years old. It took another twenty years before I gave horror another try. To this day, I still have an irrational fear of sharks.

For The Love of 80’s Horror-

In Search of Darkness ll follows the same format as the initial installment. It highlights a few movies from each year, with mini segments in between each year.  

Courtesy of CREATORVC

Despite an intimidating run time of four and half hours, I was completely engrossed the entire time. The editing was tight and never felt forced or choppy. The film’s writer/director David Weiner and his team kept the enthusiasm that made the first installment so much fun, but really cleaned up the final product with part two. I was very impressed with how many clips they used throughout the film. Often times, documentaries are more like podcasts than movies. In fact, I will often play a documentary while I clean the house, but this was not an option with this one. In fact, it felt like every single special effect example had an accompanying clip to highlight the technique. 

By the end, I had over eight pages of notes, a renewed appreciation for the creativity and resourcefulness of independent horror filmmakers, and a laundry list of movies to check out.


The primary focus of this installment were the effects that made the 80’s such an iconic decade for horror. 

As technology advanced, special effects have become more computer-based. There is no denying that when done well CGI can really enhance our viewing experience. However, given the budget constraints commonly found in horror movies, especially independent horror movies, the CGI work can completely derail an otherwise solid project. A prime example can be found in comparing the practical effects used in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) to the CGI effects used in Indiana Jones and the Kindom of the Crystal Skull (2008). In this example, the practical effects from 1984 not only were more believable but also aged better than the computer-generated effects from 2008. 

Savini’s Impact

It is hard to imagine a conversation about makeup and effects in the ’80s without talking about Tom Savini. In fact, Savini is not only a horror icon, but he personifies the spirit of the documentary. He loves horror. He is very likable and gives credit to other effects artists and filmmakers that pushed him to keep learning and growing. Savini was known for presenting an idea before he had any idea how it could be done. Once the idea was presented, he would then lock himself in his shop until he figured out how to execute his vision. As a result, Savini never stopped pushing the limits, which is why so many of his effects have withstood the test of time. 

Courtesy of CREATORVC

Horror Video Games

I have never been a huge fan of video games, which is why I was shocked when one of my favorite interviews from Phoenix FearCon was Patrick Hickley discussing his books on how some of the most iconic video games were developed.

I was equally surprised while watching the documentary how much I enjoyed the mini-segment 8-Bit Adventures. Seeing the dramatic transformation in quality from Atari to Nintendo was fascinating enough by itself, but the development of the 2017 Friday the 13th game blew my mind.  Having Savini write and design the kills and Kane Hodder executing the murders was too real for my tastes. It was fun seeing the development process wherein Hodder wears sensors while knocking doors of hinges as he wreaks havoc on everyone in his path.

Left Hanging: Unmade Horror Passion Projects

Making a movie seems nearly impossible. The more I read about the process, the more I realize just how many elements go into filming, editing, and distributing a film. This section highlighted some of the projects that never came to be. While every example seemed promising, Bill Moseley’s treatment for Texas Chainsaw lll: The Sawyers Take Manhattan was my favorite. Featuring Leatherface and Stretch getting married, having a leather-mask-wearing baby, and Leatherface working for the NYC Parks Department. Drayton “The Cook” Sawyer, who uses the meat from Leatherface’s victims to make his award-winning chili for his SoHo restaurant. Finally, Chop-Top  is one of the city’s hottest DJs at a trendy Disco Club. Yeah, not going to lie, I would have gone to see that one.

Plus So Much More

With so much to offer, there is no way to highlight everything I loved about In Search of Darkness ll. While some may be turned off by its length, it is structured in a way that allows for you to watch it over multiple sessions if needed. 

I liked this one so much, that I may take advantage of their Flash Sale before it expires at Midnight on February 14th! The package includes an 8-month season pass to the In Search of Darkness Community offers an additional 60+ hours of online content, which sounds amazing!