THE ANGEL COLLECTION
Review by Michael Jacobson
Donna Wilkes, Betsy Russell, Mitzi Kapture
Directors: Robert Vincent O'Neill, Tom DeSimone (Angel III)
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: Trailers, Deleted Scenes, Stills Gallery
Length: 285 Minutes
Release Date: June 10, 2003
mother thinks I'm not old enough to date.”
is one of
those movies whose reputation has become a lot larger than the film itself.
In fact, a lot of people seem to remember the classic, titillating tag
line “High School Honor Student By Day, Hollywood Hooker By Night” more than
they remember the movie. Though I
don't know for sure, it wouldn't surprise me if I ever learned that the
poster line came first, and they made a picture to go along with it.
truth is, despite the promise of that juicy ad line, there's nothing much
about this film that will shock or surprise…or for those looking to really
appease their jollies, not much there either.
It bears the skeleton of a good old fashioned exploitation flick, but
didn't go in either of the directions that might have made it a staple of the
genre. It could have been an all
out orgy of sex and violence, but it isn't, and it might have been a serious
look at the issues of teenage prostitution, but instead, it makes life on the
street almost look fun. Well,
except for the psychopath who goes calling on call girls, of course.
filmmakers seemed a little too timid to make the movie I think they really
wanted to see. Though lead
character Molly Stewart, aka Angel, is supposed to be 15 in the story, she was
actually played by 25 year old Donna Wilkes, who looked every bit her age.
If they'd wanted to pursue the shocking route, in other words, they
could have, with no legal repercussions. But
we never see Angel really engage in her trade.
In fact, the movie's only brief scenes of nudity don't feature her,
and are flat and unerotic, as well as completely gratuitous.
story is, of course, about an honor student who supports herself in the oldest
of professions because her parents have abandoned her.
Her street friends include a colorful array of supporting caricatures,
including an aging quasi-celebrity cowboy (Rory Calhoun) who hands out photos of
himself on the street, and an overly butch transvestite (Dick Shawn) who offers
attitude and matronly advice. Both
have less screen time than Ms. Wilkes, but greatly overshadow her.
Angel tries to bang out a living, a psycho killer has begun preying on the
hookers of Hollywood Boulevard. One
by one, some of Angel's friends turn up horribly killed. A cop actually warns the ladies to stick to their regular
customers for safety. Would a real
cop actually ever say something like that?
Hard to believe.
when Angel later identifies the thug from a lineup, he gets away.
Fearing for her safety, she arms herself and prepares for the worse…but
when the killer makes a call on her closest friends instead, she goes from
passive victim to aggressive avenger…though the climax doesn't really offer
what we were most hoping to see.
the film ends up as nothing more than a middle of the road way to pass a little
time and more disappointing than engrossing, because those who made the film
didn't have the courage to deliver on their promise. Wilkes, who as mentioned, looked far too old for the part,
didn't return when the inevitable sequels came calling…in fact, Angel joins
Friday the 13th as the key 80s film series where the main role
was filled by a revolving door trail of actors.
But when a modestly budgeted film turns a big profit, you know it's at
least once more into the well. Or
in this case, twice.
you get to hell, tell them an Angel sent you!”
enough, when we catch back up with Angel, her character's older, but the
actress playing her was younger. 20
year old Betsy Russell stepped into Angel's high heels and hits the streets
with a vengeance.
the years (actually only one in real time) since we left her, young Molly has
gone on to college to become a lawyer (well, she did have an extensive
background in screwing people and taking their money) and has left her life on
the Boulevard behind. But when her
old cop friend from the first movie ends up dead, she returns to her roost with
revenge on her mind. Can Angel and
her bizarre cast of supporting street pals stand against the mob and
incompetence on the police force?
Angel is no
great entertainment, but it benefits from a tone of not taking itself too
seriously. Ms. Russell makes for a
much prettier and more athletic Angel, but her acting chops leave a bit to be
desired…and as in the first movie, her character is upstaged by the more
outlandish sidekicks. There's
even an appearance by the great Ossie Davis, though I'm sure the renowned
actor doesn't consider this flick a career high point.
before, the promise of exploitation comes through a bit truncated…I'm not a
lecher, mind you, but come on…why make a movie with a hooker for a lead
character and never have her do anything? The
sex is kept in restraints, but the violence is kicked up just a notch, which
should please the purists some.
Angel wasn't through yet…
is NOT your best color.”
she probably should have been. With
a new writer/director and yet ANOTHER new Angel in Mitzi Kapture, the third
installment lives in kind of vacuum and manages to disregard all that made the
first sequel fun. Angel III is
more serious in tone, more absurd in content, and more unsatisfying in
experience. In fact, the best
single adjective for it is boring.
we first meet up with our beloved Angel, she's working in New York as a
freelance photographer (obviously putting that law degree to good use), when a
chance encounter in a gallery leads her to the mother who abandoned her 14 years
ago. Yet a happy Maury Povich
reunion of the week is not to be…it turns out her mother is dealing with some
bad customers, and she ends up getting a little bit killed.
first, Angel learns she has a half sister that she never knew, and that she may
be unknowingly following in her spiked heel footsteps.
And for the audience, that means only one thing…the return of the
leather mini and tight top: Angel is going back to her old stomping grounds once again.
I could ask why she can't ever return to Hollywood Boulevard without
dressing up like a whore again, but why play the spoilsport?
Final Chapter sorely
misses Angel's supporting cast of colorfuls, and though Ms. Kapture is
probably the most talented of the actresses to assume the role, there's still
not enough going for her character to make her interesting enough to carry a
film with practically no help. Even
with the luscious Maud Adams as the villainess and Richard Roundtree as “the
cop”, nobody really makes an impact here, which leaves the audience waiting
for the finale instead of anticipating it.
Though I will say one thing about the climax: it at least proves that Angel still has a bit of “hooker”
left in her.
many multi-sequeled franchises, Angel outstayed its welcome and tried to
keep pumping even though the well was quite dry. Only she didn't burn out…sadly, she just faded away.
three Angel films stand against the normal rule that 80s movies look poor
on DVD, thanks to Anchor Bay's dedication to quality.
Anamorphic transfers abound in this three disc set, and every one is well
above average. Though the first
film shows a bit of grain here and there, the print is still clean, detail level
strong and colors look brighter than their age.
Avenging Angel boasts an even better and brighter color palate,
suffering only from an occasional dark scene that descends into murkiness.
Finally, Angel III doesn't have quite the same brightness, but
it also lacks more of the flaws of the first two for a well rounded
presentation. Fans of the trilogy
should be extremely pleased.
mono soundtracks are all clean and very serviceable, with nice accents of action
to add to the dynamic range. All
three can also brag about having some of the worst 80s music scores of any films
in memory…and I'm smiling when I say that!
film features one or two original trailers.
Angel also boasts three deleted scenes (the original audio is
lost, but subtitles are included), while Avenging Angel has some stills
and a poster to peruse.