Heartland of Darkness
Steven E. Williams for Donovan Productions
directed by Eric Swelstad
starring Dino Tripodis, Nick Baldasare, Shanna Thomas, Sharon Klopfenstein, John Dunleavy, Linnea Quigley, Lee Page, Mary Alice Demas, Ray Beach, Elmo Smalley, Sid Sillivan, Ralph Scott, Wesley Coleman, Dallas Dan Hessler, Kirk Adler, Charles Grab, Kelly Barret, Roy McCombs, Nick Kellis, Catherine K. Lewis, Mary Alice Warton, Paulette Bryant, John Q. Adams, Kel Crum, Bryan Moose, Phil Hamilton, Dale Wilhelm, Mike Romeo, Walt Peterson, Davis R. Staggs, Pat Yothers, Rich Stadley, Bob Pivetta, John Branch, Larry Barnes, Mike Roderick, Bob Yothers, Harold Goldsmith, Tim Hower, Gary Jones, Lisa Saulsby, Steven M. Dunn, Phylis Jones, Chip Kocel, Scott Simonson, Denise Davis, Donna LaStella, Jay Woelfel, Kristy Woelfel (voice)
written by Eric Swelstad, music by Jay Woelfel
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Paul (Dino Tripodis), once an investigative reporter with a big
newspaper, has moved to a small town in the middle of nowhere, USA, with
his daughter Christine (Sharon Klopfenstein) to get away from is all and
allow her to grow up in peace and safety. He has scored himself the job of
editor-in-chief of the local newspaper, but how much excitement could a
job like this truly provide? Quite a bit it turns out, as soon after
opening business and hiring Shannon (Shanna Thomas), a fellow big city
investigative reporter and soon to be love interest, Paul learns of a
particularly gruesome murder cum mutilation. The local Sheriff (Lee Page)
deems it drug-related, but Paul and Shannon agree there's more to it than
that, and doing some digging at the local library, they soon figure it has
to be a Satanic ritual. Then another murder occurs, the body mutilated
very much the same, but this time it was the local church's teenaged
organist (Kelly Barret) - which brings the local reverend, Donavan (Nick
Baldasare), to their attention ... and it brings them to old Reverend
Kane's (John Dunleavy) attention, a researcher into Satanic cults, and he
pretty much confirms their worst fears, that the whole town's in the claws
of Satanists. Now he apparently has the photos to prove it, but before he
can hand them over to Paul and Shannon he's murdered by Donavan, and that
they get their hands on the pics at all is rather by mistake than design.
But them having the photos only makes the Satanists more dangerous, and
soon enough they kidnap Paul's daughter Christine, to either exchange her
for the photos or (preferably) sacrifice her in a Satanic ritual - so for
Paul it's a lose-lose situation, and it's doubtful he even has the means
to take on his adversary ...
Genre fave Linnea Quigley plays an
(intentionally) a little too sexy teacher in this one.
Now this movie took about 30 years from wrapping to release -
and watching it nowadays, one can only wonder why ... and no, I don't
think it looks rushed at all, it's just a pretty perfect example of low
budget horror cinema from its era, and not at all a bad one at that: The
story's interesting and evolves above the merely obvious, the characters
feel real, and all the shocks and scenes of suspense are in all the right
places. And in all, the film just flows really well, with hardly a boring
moment, making this pretty cool vintage genre entertainment.