Movie Reviews - Angel Heart, Angels Hard As They Come, Angry Red Planet, The Antichrist, Any Gun Can Play

Angel Heart (C, 1987)
William Hjortsberg wrote the screenplay for this adaptation of his excellent noir-horror novel, Falling Angel. Mickey Roarke is low-rent 1950's detective Harry Angel, hired by a mysterious Mr. Louis Cyphre (Robert DeNiro with long hair and fingernails) to find out if a singer named Johnny Favorite is alive or dead, because he had a contract with Mr. Cyphre, payable on his death. This Johnny Favorite was turned into an amnesia-case in the war, which complicates things. The farther Angel goes with the investigation, the more people start dying, and the closer he gets to a secret he'd probably rather not learn.... Plenty of Satanism and voodoo and violent death, but what made the film infamous upon its release was a sex scene involving Lisa Bonet, who was big at the time due to her role in the always-wholesome Cosby Show. Even though it wasn't particularly graphic, they made director Alan Parker cut out ten seconds of it to avoid an X rating. The book's better, but the film ain't bad. -zwolf

Angels Hard As They Come (C, 1971) AKA Angels, Angels - Hell On Harleys
Jonathan Demme wrote and directed this decent biker flick in which a few members of the Angels party with another gang called The Dragons, in a ghost town which is also home to a bunch of hippies (one of whom is Gary Busey, who probably shoulda been a biker since he got his head cracked open in the good ol' days when he was still against the helmet laws). While the Dragons are trying to gang-rape this hippie chick, somebody knifes her... and they get the idea that they were trying to kill the Dragon's president (a goof who's called The General, probably because of the silly spiked German helmet he wears). The Angels are found guilty of attempted assassination and the Dragons try to execute them in some gladiator-type motorcycle games. One escapes and goes to get the rest of the Angels gang to come down hard on the Dragons and free his brothers. Meanwhile the two remaining captives manage to pull some tricks with the help of the hippies (who are upset at all the violence) and some LSD. Things move along nicely enough and there's a big brawl payoff. The choppers are also nicer than usual. -zwolf

Angry Red Planet (C, 1959)
The angry technicolor TV screen! This AIP sci-fi flick really took advantage of being in color. A space ship returns from a Mars expedition with its astronauts near dead. One guy is covered with a weird growth, and they don't know how to save him. So they turn to a female astronaut from the trip, but she can't remember anything after a certain point... that being the point where anything interesting starts happening. So they give her drugs to make her remember, but this warps things (mainly by turning them pinkish and overexposed-looking), and she and the rest of the crew (two legit scientists and a chubby oaf who cracks silly jokes) go out with their .45's and ultrasonic freeze guns, and they see a lot of weird plants that are obvious cartoon drawings, and a venus flytrap that's left over from somebody's "Life In Outer Space"-themed prom. And there are worse things out there... lurking amidst the paper cut-outs are crazy giant puppets (half rat, half insect), guys in wacky suits (with three buggy eyes and all scowly), gargantuan googly-eyed jellyfish-amoeba (that eats one of the astronauts - they can see him being digested! - and then tries to eat the whole ship). It all looks like a way to shoot half the movie in black and white and save a few bucks by dying the film stock pink and telling the audience they're getting a bonus. But overall the film's goofy fun, good Saturday-afternoon stuff. Tune in at the wrong part, though, and you'll think your picture tube is dying... -zwolf

The Antichrist (C, 1974) AKA The Tempter, L' Anticristo
One of the bigger Exorcist-ploitation clones, this one contains some pretty twisted stuff. A rather annoying woman who's stuck in a wheelchair because her legs are paralyzed (possibly psychosomatically) learns that she was burned as a Satanic witch in a past life, and she has visions of unholy orgies, toad-head eating, and goat-anus-licking (don't worry, it's tastefully done). Soon she becomes a foul-mouthed, puking, slutty, demon-possessed hellion who looks (and sorta acts, really) like Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols. She does some creatively nasty things - levitating, detaching limbs, puking up green gack and making a wannabe exorcist lick it up, making furniture fly around... but most of the special effects are pretty bad, which is a little distracting since the rest of the movie is fairly stylish and well made. She also plans to give birth to the Antichrist, just to raise the stakes. Some of it is kinda creepy, definitely a contender in the genre of Exorcist rip-offs. Some of the profanities are hilarious, though. ("You stinking pots of shit!") -zwolf

Any Gun Can Play (C, 1967) AKA For a Few Bullets More, Go Kill and Come Back, Blood River, Vado... l'ammazzo e torno
Spaghetti western that looks like it's trying hard to be a Leone imitation (and that's a good thing). In the opening segment, George Hamilton (known only as The Stranger) guns down three guys who are obvious parodies of Lee Van Cleef, Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name, and a guy who could either be Django or the guy from The Great Silence. Then he sets out after the bounty on a notorious bandit named Monetaro, but bides his time and lets the guy commit more robberies so the price on his head will go up! And Monetaro is also searching for a huge cache of hidden gold. He and Hamilton each have half of a medallion that may lead them to the treasure, and another guy is the only one who can decipher its secret. So, basically, you have a Good, the Bad, and the Ugly situation. Even though this one's definitely a Leone wannabe and is good enough to be very cool and entertaining, it's not on a Leone level, with lots of zoom-lens shots substituting for Leone's distinctive style. Still, once you've seen all the Leones and the other A-list spaghettis (Django, Great Silence, Keoma, etc.) then this is a good one to go to. Lots of shooting but none of the Django-style brutality; it has moments of slapstick instead, but not so much that it messes things up. -zwolf

More film reviews are available in the archives on our website!

No comments:

Post a Comment