While interviewing Beyond Dream's Door director Jay Woelfel a few weeks ago, I learned about yet another "lost" Ohio horror film that I'd never heard of -- director Eric Swelstad's 1990 production Blood Church (a.k.a. Fallen Angels, a.k.a. Heartland of Darkness).
Swelstad worked on Woelfel's film, which was produced in part as a project for a graduate-level film class at Ohio State University. That class is no longer part of OSU's curriculum, and in fact, the only other film made through the program was Swelstad's debut feature, which is about a small town taken over by a Satanic cult.
A number of Beyond Dream's Door veterans worked on what was then called Fallen Angels, including Scott Spears and actor Nick Baldasare. Also in the cast were local actor/DJ Dino Tripodis (who had a hand in the revival of Columbus-based horror movie host Fritz the Nite Owl in recent years), and scream queen Linnea Quigley, who was brought in from California for the production.
According to Woelfel, the production ran out of funds before a final edit could be compiled. There were also technical snafus in post-production that held up completion. That is likely why, although the film was shot in 1990, it is typically listed as a 1992 production.
"It was completely shot," Woelfel told me. "Eventually, about five years ago, the director got an edit done and was working on the sound. I did a score for the move at the point they finished the recut. The director and I were roommates, and we'd worked together at a movie theater in Columbus."
That was likely the version now known as Heartland of Darkness that was announced as an impending release way back in 2007. You can see a trailer on the website here, along with some production stills.
Swelstad is now the department chair for Media Arts at LA Valley College. He directed Frankenstein Rising in 2010.
The film still hasn't received an official release, although Swelstad's faculty page claims it played on cable. With Linnea Quigley's name attached, it seems like somebody could do something with it, but for now it remains unavailable, outside of a half-hour cut that turned up online.
I recently completed a feature for Country Living magazine on Ohio-based horror films, including details on this odd black comedy from Cincinnati. The article will appear in the upcoming October issue.
I know the kids just went back to school, but it's never too early in the year for the North Carolina slasher film Final Exam. I'll have a review of the new Scream Factory Blu-ray in the upcoming issue of SCREEM.
The Dead Next Door is a blog about regional or "backyard" horror and science fiction films made from the late 1950s to the earlyl 1990s (and beyond). These films were released during the peak years of independent film production, created by a motley crew of seasoned pros, gifted amateurs, and enthusiastic genre fans, along with dozens of eccentric dreamers -- doctors, lawyers, insurance salesmen, publishers, commercial filmmakers, TV production crews and moonlighting pornographers -- all looking for their big break or a fast buck or both.