Directed by Eric Swelstad and also starring scream queen Linnea Quigley, Heartland of Darkness (AKA Blood Church) had previously been considered a lost film from the 1980s/early 1990s. However, a finished version will finally be available on Blu-Ray on November 8, 2022! We asked one of the film’s stars, Nick Baldasare, about it.
Interview with Nick Baldasare, star of Heartland of Darkness
1428 ELM: Heartland of Darkness sounds like an interesting movie. Why did it take so long for it to get released?
NICK BALDASARE: My understanding is that Eric, the director, simply ran out of money to finish it. He could explain further much better than I could, as I was just an actor in the film.
1428 ELM: The Heartland of Darkness Bluray is to come equipped with a 40-minute behind-the-scenes documentary, 3 commentary tracks, and a new interview with star Linnea Quigley. That sounds like you’re going all out! What more can we expect from this promotional blitz?
NICK BALDASARE: Well, hopefully, a lot of online interviews with participants. I think there are a lot of interesting stories about the making of HoD and where the various players landed in their lives; too many stories to go into here. Suffice it to say, it was a helluva ride and I’m proud to have been involved and am eager to tell my story to whoever is interested. Whether anyone is interested remains to be seen, as the movie is unveiled. Of course, a lot of those stories appear as extras on the disc itself.
1428 ELM: What are your thoughts on the Satanic Panic era of the 1980s and ’90s compared to the Satanic Panic stuff going on today?
NICK BALDASARE: The more things change, the more they remain the same. Going back to the Salem Witch trials, there have always been powerful people willing to exploit the fears and superstitions of the masses for their own gain. Today, it’s the same crap all over again. Now the tools are more sophisticated to spread lies and rumors with the internet and corporate news media in our lives.
It’s all about power and control. And anyone who threatens the wealthy and powerful is subject to demonization based on lies and wild conspiracies. It’s a tried and true way to build and retain power.
1428 ELM: What are some of your favorite movies or TV shows dealing with Satan, hell, demons, etc.?
NICK BALDASARE: I just watched the original 1979 Phantasm movie and loved it. I had always dismissed it as not worth seeing and was blown away by the director’s vision for it. The 70’s and ’80s were a golden era for horror. That and exploitation are 2 of my favorite genres. Of course, you can’t beat Rosemary’s Baby as the height of satanic films. Like Coscarelli with Phantasm, a good director can make such films unforgettable.
1428 ELM: In what ways has the horror genre changed since this film was made (for better and for worse)?
NICK BALDASARE: The obvious answer is the digital format. The bulk of films I’ve been in are in the horror genre and they were all shot on film. Also, they all used practical effects, which I prefer over most of the CGI we see today. That being said, I think there are a lot of decent horror movies being made currently. I loved Hereditary and I thought Pearl was a gem.
But there is a lot of garbage out there as well. By the same token, some of today’s garbage could be cherished in the future. I think that’s happened to a lot of films made decades ago, mine included.
1428 ELM: What do you say to anyone who dismisses Heartland of Darkness because it took so long to get an official release?
NICK BALDASARE: I’d say it’s their loss if they dismiss it, because there’s a lot to like in it. Are there flaws? Sure, but I’ve always found the flaws to be part of the charm of low-budget horror. It all depends on your expectations. If you’re not into 80’s low-budget kitsch and exploitation then this movie may not be for you. However, if you love homegrown horror with plenty of action, gore and nudity, this will be up your alley.
1428 ELM: What other under-the-radar films are there that people should check out?
NICK BALDASARE: I did a movie directed by Jay Woelfel called Beyond Dream’s Door that was recently released by Vinegar Syndrome. It’s more popular now than when it came out in the 80s. I also have a movie called Asylum of Darkness that was shot on 35mm film 10 years ago. It was directed by Woelfel and stars myself, Tim Thomerson, and Richard Hatch. It’s a gem that I think is ripe for rediscovery.
Visual Vengeance and physical media
1428 ELM: What can you tell us about Visual Vengeance, and how important is it to keep physical media alive?
NICK BALDASARE: I’ve been a big collector of physical media most of my life. I’ve gone from VHS to laser disc, to DVD, to Bluray, to 4k. Currently, I have well over 1000 discs. I like particularly what Visual Vengeance is doing. They are showing a lot of love and respect for lost or forgotten cult films by decking out their releases with swag and plenty of extras.
It’s a great time to be a collector! Physical media is much more personal and fun than streaming. Plus you don’t have to worry about it eventually disappearing from the streaming service.
1428 ELM: In contrast to that last question, will Heartland of Darkness also be streaming anywhere soon (such as Tubi, which seems to stream a hell of a lot of horror movies, including obscurities)?
NICK BALDASARE: I wouldn’t be surprised if it eventually lands on a streaming service like Tubi, but I have no info on that happening.
1428 ELM: Could there be room for a Heartland of Darkness sequel?
NICK BALDASARE: Personally, I would love to revisit the character I play in HoD. But for such a thing to happen would involve a lot of moving parts over which I have little control. But I’m certainly game to have another crack at it.
We’d like to thank Nick Baldasare for answering these questions, and feel free to check out Heartland of Darkness ASAP!
Do you love discovering “long lost” horror films, and will you watch Heartland of Darkness when it releases? Let us know in the comments section.