Sunday, August 4, 2013

Angel Heart - Supernatural Film Noir

Angel Heart
Directed by Alan Parker
Written by Alan Parker (novel by William Hjortsberg)
Starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet

Rated R (cut)  Rated X (uncut)   -  Approx 113 Minutes

Tag Lines:
 - It will scare you to your very soul.
 - Harry Angel is searching for the truth... Pray he doesn't find it.
 - Harry Angel has been hired to search for the truth... Pray he doesn't find it.
 - Nothing can prepare you for the ending of Angel Heart.

Alternate Titles:
Coração Satânico  (Angel Heart) -  Brazil
Aux portes de l'enfer (At The Gates of Hell)  -  Canada
Djævelen i hjertet  (Devil in the Heart)  -  Denmark
El corazón del ángel  (Angel Heart)  -  Spain
Det förhäxade hjärtat  (The Enchanted Heart) - Finland
Noiduttu sydän  (Charm Heart)  - Finland
Δαιμονισμενος αγγελος  (Possessed Angel)  - Greece
Angyalszív  (Angel Heart)  - Hungary
Angel Heart - Ascensore per l'inferno  (Angel Heart - Elevator to Hell)  - Italy
Corazón de ángel  (Angel Heart) - Mexico
Corazón diabólico  (Devilish Heart) - Mexico
Harry Angel  - Poland
Angel Heart - Nas Portas do Inferno  (Angel Heart - In The Gates of Hell)  - Portugal
Anđeosko srce  (Angel Heart)  - Serbia
Seytan çikmazi  (Satan Dilemma)  - Turkey

"No matter how cleverly you sneak up on a mirror, your reflection always looks you straight in the eye."
                    -  Louis Cypher

Angel Heart is a perfect example of film noir fused with supernatural overtones.  For those who are not familiar with the story, Harry Angel is a private detective who is hired by the mysterious Mr. Cypher to locate an old crooner named Johnny Favourite.  It seems that Johnny has some unfinished business with Mr. Cypher and has disappeared.  Angel is on the case and things just keep going from strange to worse as a trail of corpses pile up around him as he delves deeper into the mystery....leaving himself as a prime suspect.

"It's Wednesday.....that means it's anything can happen day!"

Interestingly this film was originally awarded an X rating for it's scenes of graphic gore and sex.  Lisa Bonet (Denise Huxtable!!!!!!) bares her breasts fairly often and has a rather steamy sex scene with Micky Rourke. Remember when Mickey Rourke was a fairly decent looking dude.....and not.....weird?  Anyway....what was I talking about?  Oh yes, Lisa Bonet's breasts.  They're lovely.  Anyway, I've only seen the R rated cut, but I'm going to try and track down the X (or unrated...if that even exists) cut to see what was trimmed out.

Mr. Louis Cypher.  Lou Cypher.  Hhhhmmm.....why does that sound familiar?

There is much creepiness to be had here, not least Mr. De Niro's portrayal as Mr. Lou Cypher.  Yep, you read that right.....and you know damn well who and what he is the first time you meet him.  This is quite possibly the most UN-DeNiro I have ever seen him, but it is also one of the best roles I've seen him in.  He completely nails the whole evil personified thing.

Angel Heart made me think of Mike Hammer stories to an extent...if they were completely amped up with sex and gore.  The story takes us from the mean streets of New York to the eerie voodoo laced land of New Orleans.  The film absolutely drips with atmosphere as Angel fights to unravel the mystery of Johnny Favourite, and we are riveted to the screen by the outstanding performances by Rourke, Bonet and of course the inimitable Mr. De Niro.

Hey!  It's Denise Huxtable!  What a very un-Cosby like situation.....

Midnight Cinephile Tally

Death Toll:  There's a pretty decent little body count piling up in this one:  5 dead.  Plus a chicken and a horse get it too.

Nude-O-Meter:  There is quite a bit of skin on display here.  The aforementioned breasts of Lisa Bonet and for the ladies there's also quite a bit of Mickey Rourke shown during the blood shower sex scene!

Things That Go Bump in the Night:  I don't think it's much of a spoiler to tell you that we're dealing with ol' Scratch himself here.  The whole film has a bizarre supernatural tone to it that keeps you unsettled throughout, but beyond there's just ol' Lucifer....and perhaps his spawn?

Final Thoughts
Being a fan of film noir, I found this to be a terrific detective story.  Being a fan of horror, I loved the supernatural slant.  The cinematography is in turn gorgeous and also quite effective in conveying a sense of pervasive dread.  The ending you may see coming, you may not...depends on how perceptive you are, but either way it reminds me of something you'd see in an old Twilight Zone episode.

Final Rating
Four out of Five Pizza Rolls!


  1. I loved this flick. It has a unique and interesting plot I haven't seen in a while and you don't often see in modern cinema. Actually, I think I might pull out the old VHS this evening. Thanks for reminding me. I was looking for something to watch that I haven't seen in a while.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the review and I'm glad I could remind you of this fantastic film!