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Heartland of Darkness (1992) Review

Back in the early 90s, Heartland of Darkness, or Blood Church as it was titled then, was one of those films my friends and I all wanted to see, but never seemed to materialize. We read snippets about it in magazines, we knew Linnea Quigley was in it and the plot sounded cool. But for all we kept hearing, the only thing that ever emerged was a half hour’s worth of work print.

Now after thirty years on the shelf they’ve finished post-production, added in a few digital effects, and it’s getting released by Visual Vengeance. I’m sure one of the extras on the Blu-ray will be a documentary explaining just what happened.

Heartland of Darkness opens with a man fleeing for his life through the woods. He’s caught by several black-clad pursuers who demand the negatives of the pictures he’s carrying, (this was shot in 1989 back when cameras still used film). He refuses to tell them, which does not make them happy.

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Paul Henson (Dino Tripodis, Minus One, Goodnight Cleveland) buys a small-town newspaper and moves to the middle of nowhere Ohio with his daughter Christine (Sharon Klopfenstein). He’s barely in the office before he hired a reporter, Shannon (Shanna Thomas). He also meets Reverend Donovan (Nick Baldasare, Beyond Dream’s Door, Road Meat) who we recognize from the opening scene.

As mutilated bodies begin to pile up and a local hospital’s maternity ward is robbed, Paul and Shannon suspect Satanists. This provokes a hostile reaction from the local sheriff (Lee Page) who simply writes it all off as drug-related. It also gets the attention of Reverend Donovan who sends Julia (Linnea Quigley, New York Ninja, Dead by Midnight (Y2Kill)) to keep them quiet.

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My biggest question about Heartland of Darkness is why did it take so long to get finishing funds? Writer/director Eric Swelstad (The Curse of Lizzie Borden 2: Prom Night, Too Good to Be True) actually made a solid film that’s better than a lot of films that did find financing. And better than several other “lost” films that were rescued much sooner. While the plot involving a satanic conspiracy in a small town is far from original it’s handled competently, especially once Reverend Kane (John Dunleavy, The Homecoming, Beyond Dream’s Door) shows up and Donovan kidnaps Christine to get the negatives which have fallen into her father’s hands.

There’s a fair amount of action for a low-budget film, as well as some decently shot gore scenes, including a memorable impalement. Between that and Linnea Quigley’s bare breasts, this should have been completed and sold on the nostalgia market decades ago. And to add to Heartland of Darkness’ exploitable elements, Shanna Thomas shows off an even nicer-looking pair, though they lack star value.

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Heartland of Darkness also boasts some atmospheric cinematography from Scott Spears (Witch’s Sabbath, Horrors of War) and a score by Jay Woelfel (Asylum of Darkness, Revenge of the First Wives) that complements the film nicely.

Visual Vengeance will release Heartland of Darkness on Blu-ray on November 22nd. It’s an above-average example of low-budget indie horror from the late 80s/early 90s that should have been released a long time ago. And if you want more like it, FilmTagger may be able to help.

Heartland Of Darkness Packshot

Info and Select Bonus Features:

  • DEEPER INTO THE DARKNESS: New 40-minute BTS documentary
  • Three commentary tracks
  • Linnea Quigley Remembers: new interview
  • Archival TV interviews, TV spots, BTS footage and trailers
  • Complete original FALLEN ANGELS 1990 workprint
  • BLOOD CHURCH: rare distributor promotional video
  • Six-page liner notes by Tony Strauss of Weng’s Chop Magazine
  • Limited Edition HEARTLAND OF DARKNESS “Prayer Cloth”
  • Limited Edition slipcase – FIRST PRESSING ONLY
  • Collectible Linnea Quigley folded mini-poster
  • “Stick your own” VHS sticker set
  • And much more
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Where to watch Heartland of Darkness
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1 thought on “Heartland of Darkness (1992) Review”

  1. Had crowdfunding campaigns existed during the time this film was made,maybe it would have been finished a lot more sooner as at least it’s finally completed and is now getting its official release to the public(something that half of the films[such as the uncompleted BLOODY PULP] never get to see).

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