Directed by Alan Parker
Written by William Hjortsberg & Alan Parker
Produced by Elliott Kastner & Alan Marshall
Director of Photography Michael Seresin
Music by Trevor Jones
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet & Charlotte Rampling.
1987/112 mins/Color/Dolby Stereo 2.0
1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Live Entertainment DVD
Mickey Rourke is among my favorite actors. With his most recent role being SIN CITY, I decided to go back to 1987, to view this supposed Horror/Thriller ANGEL HEART. With the taglines: “It will scare you to your very soul.”, and “Harry Angel has been hired to search for the truth... Pray he doesn't find it.”, one would be led to believe the film has potential to be a frightening journey, especially since two first-rate actors, Rourke and De Niro are along for the ride.
ANGEL HEART takes place in the 1950's. Our star, Harry Angel (Rourke) is a less-than-successful private eye. He works from a dilapidated office. Ineffective with obtaining clients, he finally receives a call to meet with a man named Louis Cyphre (De Niro). Cyphre hires him to find a man who owes a debt, named Johnny Favorite. This case however, is unlike any Angel has come across, for this time he is hired by the Devil himself. This fact isn't pointed out to Angel of course, until the films finale, but it isn't hard to figure it out if you've ever seen a movie before. The name Louis Cyphre is an indication in and of itself. De Niro's character sports long pointed fingernails, a pentagram ring, long slicked black hair and a groomed beard -- all of which are trademark characteristics of a humanized Lucifer -- minus the horns and pitchfork.
This brings Harry Angel, P.I., on a supernatural journey of occult proportions. He scours the streets of New York, to the boondocks of Louisiana, following unproductive leads. As the film trudges onward, the dead bodies accumulate and an occult phenomenon grows. From satanic worship, to voodoo rituals, Angel manages to put his chicken phobia on the backburner (but only for a short while), so he may comfortably sleep with attractive occultist Epiphany (Cosby Shows, Bonet).
ANGEL HEART is not a horror film. It isn't even really a thriller. There is nothing horrific or scary about it (other than the fact that I watched its entirety). ANGEL HEART is a private eye mystery with a pinch of occultism. This film isn't even successful in being an engaging mystery. Its pace crawls along. The whole while Rourke looks like his usual BARFLY self. Neither De Niro, nor Rourke play particularly interesting characters. We really know nothing about the characters or the mission of the film other than the fact that: a. Rourke's character is an unsuccessful P.I., b. De Niro's character is the Devil, and c. Johnny Favorite is some guy that we don't care about knowing, that Rourke's character is after. That is all. When the finale is revealed, and the viewer finds out who Johnny Favorite was/is, we don't particularly care. We weren't involved at the time Cypher gives Angel his investigation. On that note, neither is Rourke's character, until he's offered a cool five grand! Ultimately this is a missed effort, and should not be considered a member of the horror genre. It's no wonder Rourke left Hollywood for a while in the 90’s to become a boxer.
This Live Entertainment DVD is presented anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1). The film looks a step above a VHS of this era. The film is dull and grainy, and doesn't look to be re-mastered at all. It passes, but doesn't present itself as our new standard of DVD. The sound is Dolby Digital 2.0 and for the most part works, but at times the sound becomes low, resulting in having to turn up the volume. The supplemental Features are slim, but that isn't disappointing for such an overall bad film. Our first extra is a choice of Spanish subtitles. The second is the films trailer, where of course, THE EXORCIST is mentioned. The video quality of the trailer shows us that the DVD presentation could have been worse. The final supplement is an 8-minute featurette. The featurette outlines the scripts plot, shows clips from the movie and contains interviews with the cast members. The director self proclaims statements on his film that are disagreeable. Parker boasts ANGEL HEART is a “classic detective story… this film has so many textures and layers”. The film does contain textures and layers in boredom and disinterest. From the main menu there is a ‘Cast & Crew’ section with individual sections about Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling, and Alan Parker. There is also a detailed ‘Production Notes’ section, with information that fans of the film, other than myself, would appreciate. In addition to the DVD's special features, it also contains an ugly design and pallet of colors.
Since this DVD's release in 2001, Lions Gate has released a new and improved ‘Special edition’. This more polished DVD contains an updated Dolby Digital 5.1 audio presentation, a new introduction, some commentaries and new documentaries. I guess there are fans of this film after all.
This Film Features:
Review by Chris Mayo. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©