Sunday, November 20, 2022

Heartland of Darkness: Collector's Edition – Visual Vengeance (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1992
Director: Eric Swelstad
Writer: Eric Swelstad
Cast: Nick Baldasare, Linnea Quigley, Dino Tripodis, Shanna Thomas, Sharon Klopfenstein, John Dunleavy

Release Date: November 22nd, 2022
Approximate Running Time: 101 Minutes 30 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: NR
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $34.95

"In the small town of Copperton, Ohio, Paul Henson, a former big-city journalist, buys a small local newspaper. He quickly falls into a wide-reaching conspiracy of ritualistic murder and cult mind control when he discovers that the entire town may be under the spell of a Satanic reverend and his flock. As the clues and corpses pile up, Henson and his family are thrust into a life-or-death struggle to expose the truth and stop the demonic cabal's reign of evil." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 3.5/5

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "New director-supervised SD master from original tape and film elements".

Heartland of Darkness comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 45 GB

Feature: 22.8 GB

The source used for this transfer looks great. Colors and flesh tones look correct, the image looks crisp, and black levels fare well. That said, this is the best-looking transfer from Visual Vengeance to date.

Audio: 3.5/5

This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English, and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. There are no issues with distortion or background hiss; the dialog comes through clearly, and everything sounds balanced.


Extras for this release include Heartland of Darkness Visual Vengeance trailer (1 minute 30 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Fantasm Magazine excerpt, behind-the-scenes image gallery, behind the scenes: Reverend Donovan’s Death (2 minutes 37 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Blood Church – original distributor promotional video (13 minutes 1 second, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Fallen Angels vintage TV spot (1 minute 17 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), The Making of Fallen Angels - vintage cast & crew newscast interviews (21 minutes 23 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), complete original Fallen Angels 1990 workprint (36 minutes 59 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles, with optional audio commentary with director Eric Swelstad), Heartland of Darkness original trailer 1 (1 minute 42 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Heartland of Darkness original trailer 2 (2 minutes 9 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), archival Linnea Quigley 'Close Up' TV interview (19 minutes 43 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with Linnea Quigley titled Linnea Quigley Remembers (5 minutes 52 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a documentary titled Deeper Into the Darkness (38 minutes 39 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), Deeper Into the Darkness trailer (57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with Eric Swelstad, actor Nick Baldasare, cinematographer Scott Spears and composer Jay Woelfel, an audio commentary with Tony Strauss of Weng’s Chop magazine, reversible cover art featuring original Blood Church promotional art, 'Stick your own' video store sticker sheet, a Linnea Quigley folded mini-poster, Heartland of Darkness prayer cloth (first pressing only), a six-page leaflet with a essay titled The Devil Went Down to Ohio written by Tony Strauss, and a limited-edition slipcover (first pressing only).

Other extras include trailers for Asylum of Darkness, Vampires and Other Stereotypes, and Scream Queen.


When one considers its budget limitations, Heartland of Darkness is an ambitious film, not only for an established filmmaker but for a first-time filmmaker. That said, Eric Swelstad is a fearless filmmaker who never lets budget limitations get in the way.

Heartland of Darkness has an interesting premise: a secret society of Satanists has infiltrated most of the town they are taking over. Their plan is put in jeopardy when three outsiders move to town and discover their sinister plans. From there, the outsiders try to warn government officers outside of the town, only to learn that many of them are part of the Satanists' plan.

The most surprising aspect of Heartland of Darkness is its cast, who are all great in their roles, especially Nick Baldasare (Beyond Dream’s Door) in the role of Donovan, an unholy reverend. He gives a ferocious performance, diving headfirst into his character's diabolical mind. Another performance of note is Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons) in the role of a school teacher named Julia Francine. Though her screen time is limited, she more than takes advantage of what screen time she has.

When it comes to low-budget cinema, more often than not, for every diamond in the rough, there are a thousand mediocre films. Fortunately, Heartland of Darkness is an underdiscovered gem that deserves to be discovered by an audience. It features a superbly realized premise, a well-constructed narrative that keeps things interesting by building tension, and a very satisfying finale to the events that preceded. Other strengths include strong visuals that are filled with symbolism and solid special effects, notably gruesome-looking corpses.

Heartland of Darkness was a forgotten film that never materialized after filming was completed. And, despite numerous attempts over the years to get Heartland of Darkness released, it would be thirty years before this release from Visual Vengeance, which rescues Heartland of Darkness from obscurity. Heartland of Darkness gets an excellent release from Visual Vengeance that comes with a strong audio/video presentation and an abundance of extras. Highly recommended.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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