Blu Review: 80s Linnea Quigley + Evil Priests Conspire in Heartland of Darkness!
I checked out the new blu ray from Visual Vengeance, the lost 80s horror thriller Heartland of Darkness. Apparently this little “smalltownsploitation” movie was never released before this and for die hards of the genre it even features Linnea Quigley too. The movie actually shot in 1989 was recently given some finishing touches and for the most part this is a pretty charming little horror tinged thriller with strong characters, plenty of intrigue, sassy dialogue and decent amount of satanic panic.
Originally titled ‘Blood Church’ we get the story of big trouble in a small town, mainly with a wicked Catholic priest in disguise who’s secretly the head of satanic cult who’s on a killing spree (or maybe that’s just a now considered standard priest?). Too bad for him and his gang because big city journalist Paul Henson and his teen daughter move to town on a mission to start a local no B.S. newspaper. Soon he’s joined by a sexy big city reporter small town transplant who’s decided to join the paper and put the kibosh on the Cult’s wicked murderous rampage. This starts a series of bizarre events within the hierarchy of the town folk, with a massive conspiracy in play. Oh and it also inspires Linnea to of course get a bit frisky in a graveyard again!
I enjoyed the heck out of Heartland of Darkness, it’s got a cool cast of likable characters, a satanic cult, conspiracy, mystery, Linnea Quigley (looking cuter than ever) getting naked twice, a bit of romance as well as some decent gore and a bit of action to boot. It never really drags but at around an hour and forty minutes I think it could have benefited with a tighter edit. I also think Linnea could have had a bigger better role in the story but it’s pretty cool at least to just see her onscreen here in a lost 80s role.
What’s also interesting is a few sequences where you can tell it got a few “modern” edits. There’s some lightning that appears to be digitally inserted and even a scene where it’s seems clear an out of place looking digital “explosion” must have been inserted, perhaps to make better sense of the uncompleted film? Or maybe it was just the directors dream to have it in there? I’d likely have to take a deep dive into the extensive plethora of bonus features provided here, one being a new interview with Linnea as well as the original 1990 work print of the film at that time titled “Fallen Angels”.
It also comes with stickers, liner notes and some other surprising physical goodies inside the blu. This was a real treat to watch for the first time, that being said, will I watch it again? Probably not. There’s nothing particularly memorable here that’s going to separate it from the gems of 1989 and make you salivate for a rewatch. However horror collectors and Linnea completists are going to wanna take note and grab a copy. There was clearly a LOT of love from Visual Vengeance here to make this release something truly special. It’s pretty fun package all in all. Visual Vengeance is putting out some really sweet releases. Check it out!
VHS Verdict: 1983’s ‘The Keep’ is Surreal Horror at it’s Best!
I recently found a copy of the rare horror movie ‘The Keep’ from 1983 and finally checked it out for the first time last night. I’ve wanted to see this one for a long time, mainly because of how damn awesome the movie’s cover/poster artwork is, the it’s VHS cover always stuck with from when I was a kid hanging around in the horror sections of the videos stores while my parents were distracted.
The Keep was directed by Michael Mann, who I’ve always loved for his 1986 movie Manhunter, which was the first big screen appearance of Hannibal Lecter. So it seems this particular movie has been kinda shoved under the rug as Mann has admitted that he’s not a big fan of it. At least not a fan of the cut that was theatrically released. Apparently his version of the movie was originally 210 minutes long! Whoah! Supposedly Paramount told him to edit it down to just two hours, that version still didn’t sit well with test audiences so they edited the movie down even further to a mere 96 minutes. Of course that’s one of the main reasons why the movie is admittedly pretty hard to make any real sense of. It’s a slow burn, but I knew that from the start, and knew it wasn’t really your typical horror movie. Instead I viewed it for what it really is, a surreal, dream like horror fantasy and it really works well as exactly that.
It’s based around a group of Nazis who are sent to guard an huge, old, mysterious fortress in a Romanian mountain pass. One of them releases an powerful force trapped within the walls while thinking they’ll discover some sort of treasure behind them. A weird stranger senses this from his home back in Greece and travels to the keep to try and destroy the sinister force. As Nazi soldiers are eliminated, a Jewish father / daughter duo who both have information on the secrets of the bizarre stronghold arrive on the scene to make sense of the ghostly happenings. It’s a cool set up, but it’s a bit hard to comprehend as it’s filled with plot holes and many unanswered questions, likely that’d been explored in the mega extended version.
It’s also more of an art film really than a horror flick at the end of the day. It’s filled with ripe, hazy dream like atmosphere from start to finish, it’s a visual treat with a mostly quiet pace to it. When the creature though arrives on the scene from the walls of the keep it does get pretty intense and the finale is filled with a ton of great sequences that surely must’ve influenced a modern film maker like Panos Cosmatos (Mandy, Beyond the Black Rainbow). There are some amazing set pieces here, most filled with creepy fog, a pretty impressive hulk of a monster and some really excellent special fx work to behold as well. It certainly excels in it’s creation of a portal from another dimension spilling into our reality.
The cast also is pretty awesome as well, Scott Glenn, Gabriel Byrne and a much younger Ian Mckellan make this whole experience that much more enjoyable. Byrne plays a crazy Nazi and Mckellan shines as a sort of hero of the movie, being forced to work alongside the Nazis. Yeah folks, Ian was at one time “young” even though he’s still oddly kinda old even way back in 1983! I also have to mention the totally epic score from soundtrack legends Tangerine Dream, I gotta track the soundtrack down. The Keep was a delight to finally see after all these years, this movie desperately needs a re-release on blu-ray/dvd this time with the full 210 minutes of Mann’s vision!!
New Norwegian Movie “Ragnarok” Gives Indiana Jones a Run for His Money?!
Check out this awesome looking trailer for the upcoming Norwegian adventure flick Ragnarok! This one looks like a ton of fun and has that old Amblin style Goonies type adventure thing going on. I wish there were more movies these days that could pull off this style of film. So far this one seems like it hits on all cylinders and has been described as an adventure that “Indiana Jones in his prime could never quite achieve” by Twitch Film.
There’s no release date yet here in the USA but Magnolia pictures recently acquired the right so we shouldn’t have to wait to long. The plot sound like a great time too: ‘When the archaeologist Sigurd can’t settle on the myth about Ragnarok, the end of the world in Northern mythology, he decides to go on an expedition together with two colleges and his two kids. This adventure leads them to Finnmark in the Northern most part of Norway, and into “No mans land” between Russia and Norway, where no one has been in modern times. Old runes gets new meanings, when they unveil the truth. A truth bigger and more spectacular than you would have dreamed.” Be on the lookout for this one!
The Wolverine Movie Gets a Second Chance?!
It appears us Wolverine fans might just get exactly what we were hoping for with the upcoming release of “The Wolverine: Unleashed Extended Edition” come November 19th digitally and December 3rd for Blu-Ray Dvd. So what the hell does this really mean? Well the new version of the film boasts an extended, unrated cut that’s “more violent and hardcore than ever before”.
I was mostly a fan of the theatrical cut and was actually hoping for something like this to be announced. Could it be we may actually see blood in a Wolverine movie? A few severed limbs thrown about? Perhaps a glimpse into what an R-Rated Wolverine flick might look like? Could the unrated cut be the holy grail of the onscreen movie Wolverine? My guess is probably not. But it still intrigues me. now what is even more exciting is the addition of the “Alternate Ending” added. I have already read fans betting that they’ll drop the final inner fortress battle sequence and instead have something that fits more with the rest of the movies tone.
The ending/final battle was really my only problem with the movie, aside from say the last 10-15 minutes I loved the movie. It made it hard for me review it, because 90% of the movie was a home run. So what is this alternate ending really all about? I’m willing to bet that we won’t be getting a rid of the giant Silver Samurai robot battle thingy. We’re most likely going to get a sequence after that, where Wolverine stays in Japan with Mariko rather than getting on the plane with Yukio. One that leaves Wolverine more at peace with life for once. I think replacing an expensive final battle sequence would just too much wishful thinking. Either way I’m on board to see if Wolverine is really “unleashed” in this new cut of the film!
Aragorn Get’s Life in ‘PRISON’!
The totally awesome and long forgotten “Prison” from 1988 has finally gotten a proper DVD release! This little gem of a movie is a real 80’s treat jam packed with cool effects, gore and some great actors to boot! Viggo “Lord of the Rings” Mortensen stars in this supernatural horror romp as a prisoner ordered to knock down a wall to an execution room where a former convict died for a crime he didn’t commit. Well as you can imagine this releases his angry spirit into a path of pure mayhem throughout the prison walls. Apparently this movie features real ex-cons too adding to it’s “realism”.
It’s been a long time since i have seen this flick but I am sure as hell looking forward to revisiting it! This one was directed by Renny Harlin who is also responsible for movies like ‘Die Hard 2’, ‘Nightmare on Elm St 4: The Dreammaster’, ‘The Adventures of Ford Fairlane’ (uggh remember that one with The Dice Man?) and that terrible prequel from the Exorcist from 2004 just to name a few. But all that aside, check out the trailer and look for it as it was released Feb. 19th on Blu-Ray/DVD via Shout Factory.