Heartland of Darkness (2022)

Writer/director Eric Swelstad (The Curse of Lizzie Borden 2: Prom Night, Too Good to Be True) deserved better with his small town satanic panic flick, Heartland of Darkness.  The film, also referred to as both Fallen Angels and Blood Church, works like gangbusters and delivers on the small town satanism that was rumored to corrupt a lot of young minds (like myself) as we listened to our Judas Priest LPs and doodle demons in our spare time.

"this film should have found distribution ages ago"

I mean, to put it bluntly, when you grow up in the midwest and you recognize that the local church is as void of meaning to you as a golf course full of drunk yuppies, what else are you going to do?!  Why turn to Satan, of course!  I kid, but that was the mindset of a lot of our parents as the gulf between Gen Xers and Baby Boomers grew and grew before we set fire to that bridge and that damn golf course, too.

Swelstad, shooting on 16mm, capitalizes on this wild thrust of manipulation with style and wit as Copperton, Ohio becomes Ground Zero for a whole lot of satanic hootenanny courtesy of the evil Reverend Donovan (Nick Baldasare) and the townspeople he has under his spell of . . . wait for it . . . SATANISM!

Delayed all too often due to lack of financing and carried by a workprint’s word of mouth as the lost Linnea Quigley film, his horror film - which was shot on location in Columbus, Ohio - is handled competently and thanks to a barrage of practical effects feels more than just another ripped-straight-from-the-headlines genre offering.  You know, the ones that flooded Blockbuster in the wake of more successful titles.

Heartland of Darkness (clever title, right?) begins with force as a man running like hell from some cult members finds himself in their clutches all too soon.  They want the negatives he’s carrying; negatives that prove just what the wicked Donovan has been up to in his congregation.  From this unsettling opening, we drift into the main narrative as Paul Henson (Dino Tripodis, Minus One, Goodnight Cleveland) finds himself the owner of a small-town newspaper. Heartland of Darkness (2022)

Along with his daughter Christine (Sharon Klopfenstein) and newly hired reporter, Shannon (Shanna Thomas), at war with the local sheriff, who coughs up all the recently discovered mutilations to drugs.  I mean, why not blame the easiest targets?!  It certainly can’t be the local church which, as it turns out, is filled to the brim with devil worshiping psychos.  Send in the hot teacher (Quigley) to distract the newcomers from the truth!

And that’s what happens when Father Donovan takes matters into his own hands to quiet down all the new racket that this newspaper is causing.  With a nice impaling, solid effects, Quigley’s bare breasts on display, cinematography from Horrors of War’s Scott Spears, and Jay Woelfel’s score, this film should have found distribution ages ago.

But it wasn’t, which only leaves me scratching my bald head and wondering WTF?!?!

Luckily for us, we have Wild Eye Releasing’s much appreciated involvement in getting this cult classic - which has been newly mastered by the director - onto blu-ray!  Heartland of Darkness is now available to own.  Relive the SATANIC PANIC in all its SD glory thanks to this release! 

Holy Hell indeed.

5/5 stars

Heartland of Darkness (2022)

Blu-ray Details

Collector's Edition Blu-ray

Home Video Distributor: Visual Vengeance
Available on Blu-ray
- November 29, 2022
Screen Formats: 1.33:1
: English
English: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

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. Often cited as the 'lost' Linnea Quigley movie, Heartland of Darkness (sometimes also referred to as Blood Church) was shot in 1989 by director Eric Swelstad on 16mm film and lost in obscurity and distribution false starts for over 30 years. This never-before-seen "Satanic Panic" epic finally arrives on home video for the very first time in any format and is packed with bonus features that spotlight the original creators and document the film's long history and final completion.


The region free blu-ray includes a new SD master from the original tapes. It’s crusty, out of focus, and definitely full of print damage, but that’s what we expect from this line of releases. These are not great movies. They are only great fun to watch.


Fans get Dolby Digital Audio from the 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio. Again, not great, but what does it matter when you are having this much fun?



  • See special features

Special Features:

The Visual Vengeance blu ray of Heartland of Darkness has these features:

First time available in any format

  • New director-supervised SD master from original tape and film elements
  • Deeper Into the Darkness: New 40-minute behind the scenes documentary
  • Three commentary tracks
  • Linnea Quigley Remembers, a new interview
  • Archival TV interviews, TV spots, behind the scenes 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!

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

4/5 stars

Film Details

Heartland of Darkness (2022)

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
102 mins
: Eric Swelstad
Eric Swelstad
Nick Baldasare; Linnea Quigley; Dino Tripodis
: Horror
An evil place between heaven and hell - the sanctuary of death!
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:

Official Site:
Release Date:
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
November 29, 2022
Synopsis: Single father Paul Henson purchases a newspaper in the small town of Copperton, Ohio and moves there with his teenage daughter Christina. The two soon come to realize the townsfolk, led by the evil Reverend Donovan, are actually Satanists.


Heartland of Darkness (2022)