Angel Heart uncut (Arrow Recommends)

"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: In 1955, an un-kept, chain-smoking Private Dick with a chicken phobia named Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is hired by a mysterious man (Robert DeNiro) to find an old crooner that owes said man a debt. The deeper Angel gets into his investigation, the darker and weirder things get.

“You ever watch the Mickey Mouse Club? Cause you know what today is? Today is Wednesday. It's anything can happen day." – Harry Angel

LOWDOWN: I was obsessed with Alan Parker’s ANGEL HEART when it first came out. I murdered my VHS tape of it that's for sure! Now I hadn’t seen the film in eons and was stoked to re-visit it today as a wiser and smarter filmgoer who knew the outcome ahead of time. I was hoping that I would pick up on more clues/details along the way. And that I did! Allow me to give Angel Heart a big hug and a pat on the ass.

The first thing that struck me watching ANGEL HEART again was the incredible attention to details in every single f*cking frame. Be it set designs, costumes, props or the artistry put in every single shot in terms of angle, camera movements (slow and oppressive – beautifully framed static wide shots) lighting and atmosphere. A lot of thought and effort went into the making of this picture and I got to appreciate that on a whole new level. And yes, I picked up on way more shit as I went along (lots of audio clues, relevant symbolism spread throughout and seemingly mundane background stuff that means something in the end). The mystery seemed obvious to me on this round though and I wonder if I didn’t know how it ended, if tapping it today, I would have figured it out. Cause I certainly didn’t on my first watch way back then. 

Another one of the film’s main assets was most definitely Mickey Rourke and is incredibly organic and spur of the moment performance. This was Rourke at the top of his game. He still had his dashing bad-boy good looks, greasy hair included and the man oozed of charisma at what ever he did. Oh look Rourke is sitting at a diner smoking a cigarette? I was transfixed. Oh, Rourke is walking down the street and interacts with some girl! Transfixed.  Rourke answers the phone and lights yet another cigarette? Transfixed. It’s unf*cking believable how hypnotizing he was back then and through the whole of the film, he kept my eyes on the screen. Its should also be stabbed, coming from a guy that’s been a on again and off on smoker for the last 10 years, he made me want to light a cigarette that's for sure! Man he made smoking look good, but I digress. Rourke was well supported by the likes of Robert DeNiro in a small role (their scenes together electrified the screen – now that’s an actors duel) and the then 18 years old Lisa Bonet who much like Rourke was simply magnetic. She owned every frame! What a stunner!

Horror wise, ANGEL HEART was filled to the brim with eerie and unsetting imagery, nasty ideas, odd devices (all about them fans) and the WHY behind it all was more disturbing every minute I thought about it afterwards. Add to that an engaging blues and R&B soundtrack that fit the Southern vibe ideally, one hell of a brrr inducing and somber score by Trevor Jones (note to self, next time I write a horror film – use that score as background music), often inventive editing when it came to using sound and imagery for maximum impact and clever/gripping dialogue and you get a horror masterpiece that was almost perfect!

I say almost because a couple of things didn’t go down well on this watch. 1- The flick’s knack of repeating the same information more than once got on my nerves. I get it though, the story’s ins and outs were fairly intricate and they wanted to make 200% sure that the audience “got it” on a first watch… but still. I could have done without it. 2- The way the mystery was resolved was rushed and via an exposition laced monologue by the weakest actor of the lot. I would have taken my time, communicate what was truly going on gradually as opposed to dumping it all in our laps in one big shot via a meh performer to boot. But that’s just me. Finally, I think I found one plot hole in the “master plan” behind the missing crooner’s shtick. But no biggie.

All in all ANGEL HEART was and still is a horror winner! The stellar performances, the off putting subject matter, the un-pc ideas, the warped imagery and the gumshoe meets horror mix made this one a keeper! Now the version that I saw was unrated (the MPAA only gave the flick an R after they cut 10 seconds off a raunchy sex scene) and although not announced as unrated, I know for a fact that this DVD is uncensored. I can't vouch for the more recent BluRay! That one is ON YOU! Either way, it's not 10 seconds of Rourke's butt humping that will make or break your ride. If you haven't seen ANGEL HEART – SEE IT! If you have already – clock it once more. It has aged very well.

Source: Arrow in the Head

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