×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Abc Miniseries Murder in the Heartland — Parts I & II

The splendidly produced ABC miniseries dwells on the grotesque true story of Charlie Starkweather, 19, who killed 11 people in Nebraska in 1957-58, and his 14-year-old girlfriend,

With:
Cast: Tim Roth, Fairuza Balk, Brian Dennehy, Randy Quaid, Milo O'Shea, Kate Reid, Rondi Reed, Bob Gunton, Tom Bower, Roberts Blossom, Gerry Bamman, Don Bloomfield, James Prince, Jeff Perry, Jake Carpenter, Heather Kafkall, Jennifer Griffin, John Davies, John Hussey, Angie Bolling, Ryan Cutrona, Gary Carter, Marco Perella, Renee Zellweger, Connie Cooper, Chamblee Ferguson.

The splendidly produced ABC miniseries dwells on the grotesque true story of Charlie Starkweather, 19, who killed 11 people in Nebraska in 1957-58, and his 14-year-old girlfriend,

Caril Ann Fugate, who was with him on his eight-day slaying spree.

Michael O’Hara’s surehanded script and Michael Horowitz’s fine direction spell out the brief career of remorseless bloodletter Starkweather.

Verging on the irresponsible, “Murder in the Heartland” is just the ticket for impressionable viewers with itchy trigger fingers; however, the well-executed but stomach-churning stunt will probably shoot the roof off the ratings.

Charlie, whose past is vague, sets the stage eight minutes into the vidpic when he blasts a gas station attendant with his shotgun.

Caril’s parents object to Charlie because he’s too old for her (not mentioned in the telepic is that he chose Caril because he was too short for girls his own age); in a searing scene in Part I (and repeated from other points of view in Part II), Charlie wipes out Caril’s mother and stepfather; he stabs her

baby sister off camera (actually he choked her to death with a rifle butt).

Charlie and Caril start off on their gruesome journey among the innocents until the law catches up.

O’Hara’s teleplay considers whether Caril was a willing accomplice in the killings, allowing the mini to show violent deaths from several points of view. Claiming she’s a victim, Caril insists she didn’t want to be with him and that she didn’t kill anyone herself. Viewers can decide for themselves.

It would be impossible to select the most repellent seg (the one in the gas station is a lulu), but Charlie’s slaying a deaf woman in Part II is a strong contender. O’Hara and Horowitz display the sin before showing the wages of same — in

this case, Charlie’s execution in the electric chair (right down to the twitches). So “Murder in the Heartland” has a moral after all! Or is it a plea for ending the death penalty?

The entire cast is excellent. Tim

Roth impersonates Charlie in frighteningly convincing fashion, while Fairuza Balk delivers a solid interp of the confused, wary girl who becomes a shrewd, conniving teenager.

The late Kate Reid appears eloquently as Caril’s grandmother, and Randy Quaid plays the D.A. Brian Dennehy is Caril’s defense attorney, and Milo O’Shea is Charlie’s luckless mouthpiece. Jennifer Griffin is Caril’s hard-hit mom,

and Angie Bolling plays a wealthy woman for whom Charlie hauled trash.

Tech credits are superior.

A fictional version of the story was told in the 1973 feature “Badlands,” which ran 94 minutes. Why ABC decided to let this version erupt on the home TV screen for approximately 180 minutes remains a mystery — except for ratings. The mesmerizing telefilm is sure to win fans anxious to view gory deeds.

“I feel good about this,” Charlie declares early on about his bloody antics. At another time, the Nebraska governor decides: “This is a nightmare. Enough is enough!”

In fact, it’s too much.

Abc Miniseries Murder in the Heartland -- Parts I & II

(Mon. (3), Tues. (4), 9-11 p.m., ABC-TV)

Production: Filmed in and around McKinney, Texas, by O'Hara-Horowitz Prods. Exec producers, Michael O'Hara, Lawrence Horowitz; producer, S. Bryan Hickox; director, Robert Markowitz; writer, O'Hara.

Crew: Camera, Ronald Garcia; editors, Scott Vickrey (Part 1), David Beatty (Part 2); production designer, Christiaan Wagener; sound, Michael Haines; music, Patrick Williams.

Cast: Cast: Tim Roth, Fairuza Balk, Brian Dennehy, Randy Quaid, Milo O'Shea, Kate Reid, Rondi Reed, Bob Gunton, Tom Bower, Roberts Blossom, Gerry Bamman, Don Bloomfield, James Prince, Jeff Perry, Jake Carpenter, Heather Kafkall, Jennifer Griffin, John Davies, John Hussey, Angie Bolling, Ryan Cutrona, Gary Carter, Marco Perella, Renee Zellweger, Connie Cooper, Chamblee Ferguson.

More TV

  • Outlander 406

    'Outlander' Recap: Jamie Encounters William Again in 'Blood of My Blood'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Blood Of My Blood,” the sixth episode of “Outlander” Season 4. The action in “Blood of My Blood” picked up almost immediately after the previous week’s episode, as evidenced by the fact that Murtagh (Duncan Lacroix) was still staying with Claire (Caitriona Balfe) and [...]

  • The Flash -- "Elseworlds, Part 1"

    'Elseworlds, Part 1' Recap: Barry Allen and Oliver Queen Swap Skills, Visit Superman

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Elseworlds, Part 1,” the first part of the 2018 “Arrowverse” crossover, which aired Dec. 9. After past crossovers that introduced beloved characters’ doppelgangers, a wedding and death, “Elseworlds,” the fifth annual “Arrowverse” event, had a lot to which to live up. Unlike previous years, [...]

  • Stranger Things

    'Stranger Things' Season 3 Teaser Reveals Episode Titles, 2019 Release

    Netflix dropped a new teaser for the upcoming third season of “Stranger Things” Sunday, confirming that it will land on the streamer in 2019. The teaser also revealed the episode titles for the third season, which are as follows: “Suzie, Do You Copy?,” “The Mall Rats,” “The Case of the Missing Lifeguard,” “The Sauna Test,” [...]

  • Kyzza Terrazas Joins Garcia Bernal, Diego

    Kyzza Terrazas Joins Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna’s La Corriente del Golfo (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Launching their new production house, La Corriente de Golfo, last April, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna have tapped Mexican writer-director Kyzza Terrazas as the company’s head of development. The appointment will certainly help build the company appointing an old-rounder capable of overseeing and implementing development, writing and directing, and a longtime [...]

  • Michael Che Defends Kevin Hart on

    Michael Che Ribs Academy Over Kevin Hart Controversy on 'SNL'

    Kevin Hart may have alienated some in Hollywood over his recently resurfaced homophobic tweets, but that didn’t stop “Weekend Update” co-host Michael Che from cracking some jokes in support of Hart on Dec. 8’s “Saturday Night Live.” After briefly recapping that Hart stepped down from hosting the Oscars after the 2011 tweets came to light, [...]

  • THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY

    'The Umbrella Academy' Superheroes Series Premiere Date Set on Netflix

    The dysfunctional-family superheroes of “The Umbrella Academy” are landing on Netflix worldwide on Feb. 15, 2019. The live-action series is based on the “Umbrella Academy” comic books created and written by Gerard Way and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, published by Dark Horse Comics. The Netflix original series comprises 10 one-hour episodes. “The Umbrella Academy” stars [...]

  • SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- "Jason Momoa"

    Robert De Niro Appears as Robert Mueller in 'Saturday Night Live' Cold Open

    Robert De Niro made a surprise appearance as special counsel Robert Mueller in “Saturday Night Live’s” cold open. De Niro popped out of a closet in a sketch that skewered President Donald Trump and the mounting legal pressure Mueller’s investigation has put on many of Trump’s associates. Alex Moffatt played Eric Trump in a bedtime-story [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content