Thirty years after it was first filmed, this horror film is finally seeing the light of day from the gang at Visual Vengeance.
Former big time journalist Paul Henson has decided to buy a local newspaper in the small town of Copperton, Ohio. When reports of a dismembered body has come about town, he is met with resistance immediately from the local sheriff. While Paul tries to figure out exactly what happened, one thing is for sure. The local church’s Reverend Donovan has won the hearts of the locals. However, there is more than meets the eye for this local man of the cloth.
Donovan is actually a Satanist and seems to be under the spell of the mysterious Julia Francine. Donovan and his clan begin to terrorize and threaten anyone who has suspicions about them. They are the ones responsible for the dismembered body and when Paul finds evidence that could take down Donovan, he finds himself as well as his teen daughter Christine under threats and possibly more by the Satanists. Will Paul find the courage to overcome the deadly Reverend Donovan and his “blood church”?
Known as the “Lost Linnea Quigley Film”, there is a very interesting backstory to this film. Writer and director Eric Swelstad made this film originally as a Master’s Thesis in Film while attending school. After completing principal photography, he didn’t have money for post-production, so he shelved the film for nearly three decades. Thanks to the gang at Visual Vengeance, the film is finally seeing the light of day and it is actually a really good horror film.
While Linnea Quigley is the top billed name thanks to her iconic “80s scream queen” moniker, the film’s cast is mostly Ohio locals and in the case of our protagonist, Dino Tripodis is really good. As Paul, he is the typical “fish out of water” going from big time newspaper guy to owning his own paper in small town America. What’s interesting is that with films like Halloween and even Children of the Corn, it feels like small town America is the perfect setting for the horror genre.
Nick Baldasare is excellent as the evil Reverend Donovan, who comes off first as a likable fellow amongst the locals. However, when we know right away, he is our villain, he comes off as both suave and yet when the script calls for it, maniacal. Quigley’s Julia seems to serve as a “puppet master” to the Reverend as she tends to use her “charms” to coerce the clergyman to do some very evil bidding. This leads to some insane death scenes that are done with some very excellent practical effects. As a matter of fact, the way the first death’s aftermath is filmed is so shocking that during production, it attracted some local bystanders thinking it was completely real.
Heartland of Darkness is definitely worth the long 3-decade wait as it is a smart horror film that combines small town America, Satanism, and the fish out of water story with a great local cast and the iconic Linnea Quigley. If you love classic horror films, then this is one worth seeing!
WFG RATING: A
Visual Vengeance presents a Donovan/HOD Productions film. Director: Eric Swelstad. Producer: Steven E. Williams. Writer: Eric Swelstad. Cinematography: Scott Spears. Editing: John Ammon and Wes Whatley.
Cast: Linnea Quigley, Dino Tripodis, Nick Baldasare, Shanna Thomas, Sharon Klopfenstein, John Dunleavy, Kirk Adler, John Q. Adams, Kelly Barret, Wesley Coleman.
The film will be released on a Special Collector’s Blu-Ray on November 8, 2022.