Heartland of Darkness (1989) Visual Vengeance Blu-ray Review
A bit overlong at 101 minutes, but still somehow compelling and convicting as a low budget indie horror effort from the late 1980’s, Heartland of Darkness gives a lot more than most indie horror films in the same vein.
A newcomer in a small town sets up shop as the new editor of the town’s only newspaper, and he stumbles into a satanic cult that is controlling the entire town’s population.
Paul Henson (Dino Tripodis) and his teenage daughter Christine (Sharon Klopfenstein) move into a small Ohio town after years of the big city life, and Paul takes over a defunct newspaper office and sets up shop as the town’s new investigative reporter. He quickly hires another reporter named Shannon (Shanna Thomas), and before they know it, they’re driving out to grisly murder scenes with the victims being totally eviscerated and disemboweled, which are promptly chalked up to being “drug related” by the obviously clueless or corrupt police force and town’s district attorney. Shannon insists these are ritualistic satanic cult murders, and pretty soon Paul comes to the conclusion that she’s onto something. The town’s only preacher is an unsettling creep named Donovan (well cast Nick Baldasare) who we already know has the entire town under his thumb, including a local (and shockingly hot) high school teacher (played by Linnea Quigley, who obviously has some nude scenes in the film) who immediately sets her sights on corrupting Paul’s daughter Christine. As more horrific murders occur around town – including 12 (!) babies who are stolen from the maternity ward and sacrificed at a local landfill – Paul scrambles to find the source of the evil before the sinister reverend does something even more unthinkable.
A bit overlong at 101 minutes, but still somehow compelling and convicting as a low budget indie horror effort from the late 1980’s, Heartland of Darkness gives a lot more than most indie horror films in the same vein. With tons of convincing gore, special effects, and nudity, the film has a weird charm to it, which is saying something, considering that the movie remained unreleased in any format until now. It’s rally mystifying why this film never got released and just sat on a shelf for more than 30 years because it’s not half bad, if very cliche in terms of presenting the Christian reverend as a heinous cretin. From filmmaker Eric Swelstad.
Wild Eye Releasing and Visual Vengeance recently released a Blu-ray for this one, and it’s totally loaded with special features, including commentaries, docs, interviews, a foldout poster of Linnea Quigley, a prayer mat (!?), stickers, an essay booklet, and tons more. Well worth picking up at its reasonable price.
All region Blu-ray
New director-supervised SD master from original tape and film elements
Deeper Into the Darkness: New 40-minute BTS documentary
Commentary with director Eric Swelstad, star Nick Baldasare, cinematographer Scott Spears and composer Jay Woelfel
Commentary with Tony Strauss of Wengâ€™s Chop magazine
Linnea Quigley Remembers: new interview
Archival Linnea Quigley ‘Close Up’ TV interview
Original TV spots, trailers and behind-the-scenes footage
Complete original â€œFallen Angelsâ€ 1990 workprint
â€œFallen Angelsâ€ 1990 workprint commentary track with director Eric Swelstad
The Making of Fallen Angels – vintage cast & crew newscast interviews
Blood Church â€“ original distributor promotional video
Behind-the-scenes image gallery
Six-page liner notes
Fantasm Magazine excerpt â€” Director spotlight
Limited Edition Heartland of Darkness â€œPrayer Clothâ€ – FIRST PRESSING ONLY
Limited Edition slipcase – FIRST PRESSING ONLY
Collectible Linnea Quigley folded mini-poster
â€˜Stick your ownâ€™ VHS sticker set
Reversible sleeve featuring original Blood Church promotional art