Linnea Quigley’s Lost Role

Heartland of Darkness has a tortured production history almost scarier than the movie itself. A so-called Satanic Panic thriller reacting to several horror trends rampant in the Eighties, the low-budget film most notably features scream queen Linnea Quigley. Director Eric Swelstad (Frankenstein Rising) shot the marauding flick on 16mm film in 1989 under the working title Fallen Angels, practically a student film project operating out of Ohio State University with many students participating for school credit. Never fully completed, the movie fell into obscurity as a “lost” Linnea Quigley entry. It looked like Swelstad’s work would never see the light of day.

Swelstad had offers over the years from several name producers in the genre to finish his film but things never worked out. Having circulated in underground trading circles as a rough 40-minute workprint, the movie underwent yet another title change from Blood Church to its latest Heartland of Darkness. Cult horror and exploitation label Visual Vengeance finally gave the finished product a proper release in 2022, including new special effects.

Heartland of Darkness exudes a distinctive VHS charm straight from the 1980s

Journalist Paul Henson moves to the small town of Copperton, Ohio with his teenage daughter Christine in tow. He’s bought a small newspaper there and becomes intrigued by a string of grisly murders, smelling something sinister afoot under the cover of piety and devotion led by the creepy Reverend Donovan (Nick Baldasare). Henson doesn’t know an unspeakable evil has been brewing right underneath the surface in the seemingly pleasant town.

Paul uncovers a nest of Satanists running the town with an iron fist, killing anyone who gets in their way. Reverend Donovan has designs on luring Christine into his flock, aided by the seductive allure of his acolyte Julia. Memorably played by a ravishing Linnea Quigley at the height of her scream queen days, Heartland of Darkness is definitely a box her fans need to check off for posterity. Her introduction alone is unforgettable, making out with the evil Reverend in a graveyard while topless.

While the finished project is no masterpiece, Heartland of Darkness exudes a distinctive VHS charm straight from the 1980s. The acting is a touch hammy but the overall screenplay meshes several underlying themes which work for the genre. Getting over the fact it’s a young director’s film thesis on a shoestring budget, Heartland of Darkness displays solid filmmaking and serviceable enough production values for any genre film.

Indulging genre tropes like Satanic cults and baby sacrifice utilizing a keen sense of exploitation thrills, the eerie vibe and Nick Baldasare’s over-the-top portrayal of evil make for a fun little b-movie. Throw in a prime Linnea Quigley, who is killed off all too quickly, you have all the ingredients for a tasty slice of VHS madness. Visual Vengeance has put out a couple of super-obscure films which frankly weren’t all that good; Heartland of Darkness is a strong exception. Do it for Linnea Quigley.


Heartland of Darkness was shot on 16MM film but sadly finished on standard-definition videotape. That limited video quality serves as the basis for this disc. Given the project’s inherent limitations, director Eric Swelstad’s movie today only exists in SD resolution. It’s presumed the original film elements were lost at some point over the years before finishing the project. He’s supervised and approved this interlaced 1080i presentation, upscaled from SD tape masters. The 1.33:1 video offers all the problems of VHS footage amplified to today’s Hi-Def widescreens.

Rampant aliasing, poor definition, bland color saturation and uneven crushing, these are all part of the package that is Heartland of Darkness. Clarity isn’t terrible, most of the film’s cinematography is bright with fine lighting. It’s not the PQ customers have come to expect from Blu-ray, though Visual Vengeance does beef up the AVC encode by spreading it over a BD-50. If the horror market didn’t demand Blu-ray, DVD would have been a better home for the movie. The best you can say is this disc reflects the source material they worked from without introducing more problems.


The included 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtrack in stereo fares better than the video. A heavy score by Jay Woelfel is heard in adequate fidelity and extension. Dialogue is primarily clean and intelligible, if mixed oddly at times. Given the budget and genre, perfectly acceptable audio with no real issues.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font.


Visual Vengeance, a division of Wild Eye Releasing, give Heartland of Darkness one doozy of a collector’s edition for its debut nearly 33 years after filming. A ton of physical swag is included inside the normal BD case. You get a prayer cloth, stickers, a small booklet, and a foldout poster of Linnea Quigley. Arriving in a clear case with reversible artwork featuring original Blood Church artwork, a slipcover is available.

The copious supplements detail the production’s tortured history alongside two new commentaries, both archival and modern interviews with Linnea Quigley, and a rough 1990 workprint for “Fallen Angels”.

Deeper Into the Darkness (38:39 in HD) – A new behind-the-scenes documentary which details the movie’s background at Ohio State.

Deeper Into the Darkness Trailer (00:57 in HD)

Commentary with director Eric Swelstad, star Nick Baldasare, cinematographer Scott Spears and composer Jay Woelfel

Commentary with Tony Strauss of Weng’s Chop magazine

Linnea Quigley Remembers (05:52 in HD) – A new interview with the former genre star reflecting on her memories of the movie, which she enjoyed working on though it never came out.

Archival Linnea Quigley ‘Close Up’ TV interview (19:43 in SD) – A fascinating local interview Linnea gave in Ohio promoting the movie.

Original Trailer (01:42 in HD)

Original Trailer #2 (02:09 in SD)

Visual Vengeance Trailer (01:30 in HD)

1990 TV Spot (SD)

Behind The Scenes: Reverend Donovan’s Death (02:37 in SD)

Complete original “Fallen Angels” 1990 Workprint (36:59 in SD) – You can see the genesis of the production.

“Fallen Angels” 1990 workprint commentary track with director Eric Swelstad

The Making of Fallen Angels (21:21 in SD) – Vintage cast & crew newscast interviews

Blood Church (13:01 in SD) – Original distributor promotional video

Behind-The-Scenes Image Gallery

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s About Us page.

Heartland of Darkness
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


A lost Linnea Quigley appearance is saved from oblivion, finally released in its full glory decades after the horror thriller from the 1980s was made

User Review
2 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 39 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *