29th Oct2020

Interview: David Weiner talks 80s horror doc ‘In Search of Darkness: Part II’

by Chris Cummings

Building on the successful 2019 superdoc that Forbes called “a scary good magnum opus” (94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), In Search of Darkness: Part II dives deeper into the practical-effects decade of ‘80s horror movies with over four hours of brand-new interviews, featuring such legendary horror icons as Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise), Nancy Allen (Dressed to Kill, Carrie) , Linnea Quigley (Return of the Living Dead, Night of the Demons), and special-effects wizard Tom Savini (Friday the 13th, Creepshow). Alongside 15 new faces, the original cast of In Search of Darkness also returns to delve into more fan-favorite titles and eclectic entries of ‘80s horror, year-by-year, expanding the scope to cover more international releases and to spotlight horror-career retrospectives.

In the spirit of Halloween and in anticipation of the films looming pre-order cut-off date, we sat down with In Search of Darkness: Part II‘s writer & director David Weiner…

I know the new film, In Search of Darkness: Part II, is coming soon. What can we expect from this sequel that is different from the first documentary?

With another four-plus-hour running time, In Search of Darkness: Part II is a deeper dive into ‘80s horror films with a broader world view. A focus on Italian films. A taste of entries from Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. New larger-context chapters. All in the same year-by-year, chapter-by-chapter format. With hundreds and hundreds of films released in the span of just 10 years, there was only so much ground I could cover in the first film, so I focused on North American movies. This time I get to go beyond with more eclectic titles alongside fan-favorite films, with 15 new faces (including Robert Englund, Tom Savini, Linnea Quigley and Nancy Allen) sharing their thoughts on the genre, their favorites, and their own work alongside 40-plus returning voices from the first film.

In Search of Darkness, which is available on Shudder here in the UK, is a deep and hugely entertaining documentary that looks at some of the best horror films of the 1980s. What drove you to make this film, and how was the experience in making it, and speaking to many of the directors, actors and talents that appear?

I’m a nostalgic person at heart, always living with one foot in the past. So to have an opportunity to make a film revisiting one of my favorite genres during such an explosive decade of creativity was impossible to pass up. Professionally, I love to interview filmmakers, actors and creative individuals. I feel privileged when I am able to get a solid hour or more with someone to discuss a variety of topics, related and unrelated, to the task at hand. And despite the challenges of COVID, I was able to secure 23 new interviews, safely, for In Search of Darkness: Part II, which makes me very proud given the real-life horrors of the world right now.

What was the first horror you movie you ever saw that made you into a horror fan?

I grew up as a Monster Kid through and through, reading Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and watching all sorts of monster movies on TV — Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Wolfman, Ray Harryhausen stop-motion goodness, and every King Kong, Godzilla and kaiju movie that came my way. It wasn’t until I saw The Exorcist, The Omen, The Amityville Horror, and John Carpenter’s Halloween that my eyes opened up to more straightforward and truly frightening horror. By the time I saw An American Werewolf in London on the big screen, I became more intrigued about the filmmaking process and how special effects were created.

Aside from In Search of Darkness: Part II, what other things are you working on that you can perhaps tell us a little about? Are there other genres or horror decades you’d like to tackle?

I am currently working on In Search of Tomorrow, about ‘80s Sci-Fi movies, due next fall. It’s another four-plus-hour superdoc similar in structure to In Search of Darkness I & II. Beyond that, I’d love to tackle fantasy films. And, who knows, maybe a movie about my beloved Saturday Morning Cartoon experiences as a kid!

Finally, when it comes to horror, what decade do you feel is truly the best, and do you have a specific movie you would say is at the top of that list?

Spending so much time amid the many offerings of ‘80s horror has cemented my appreciation for that time period, but I truly love the genre as a whole. I feel like every decade has great films to offer, each reflecting the time and generation that made them. Whether it’s the classic Universal Monster movies spanning the 1930s to the ‘50s like The Invisible Man and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and Creature From the Black Lagoon, the Hammer Horror and Roger Corman B-movies of the ‘60s and ‘70s and big studio films like Village of the Damned and The Omen, ‘90s entries such as Misery, Tom Savini’s Night of the Living Dead remake and Silence of the Lambs (which many like to classify solely as a thriller), or even Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead and Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake in the 2000’s. As you can see, I’ve dodged giving you a specific answer on this one, as there is no way for me to adequately choose. For me, there’s just too much to love about horror from any decade.

To pre-order In Search of Darkness: Part II go to 80sHorrorDoc.com before the deadline at midnight on Halloween. And check out @80sHorrorDoc on Twitter too!


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