Continuing with the (young) Mickey Rourke + ’80s movies kick I’ve been on, this week we revisit Angel Heart.
The 1987 movie, based on the novel Fallen Angel by William Hjortsberg, stars a Rourke just starting to go to seed (also released that year: Barfly. After that, the highlights of the actor’s IMDB portfolio are basically Wild Orchid until Sin City in 2005. And let’s face it, even that was a piece of shit.) and Robert DeNiro.
The less said about the plot the better – not because it’s bad, but you’ll enjoy the movie more the less you know. Suffice it to say, we almost always know more than Harry Angel, Rourke’s private detective character, who is continually playing catch-up with the plot. DeNiro plays a not-very-mysterious-but-still-kind-of-scary character named “Louis Cypher” (think about it. But not too hard).
Also in the movie: Charlotte Rampling in a thankless role as a fortune teller and Lisa Bonet, desperately trying to escape her Cosby Show image by showing her boobs and messing around with a chicken.
In fact, there’s a good drinking game to be had during Angel Heart – take a gulp every time someone says “chicken.” You will be drunk by the end of it.
Anyway, Angel Heart – which I’d seen only once, around the time of its release – holds up well, even in a post-Sixth Sense world. Alan Parker (Midnight Express, Mississippi Burning among many others) directs the mix of supernatural and film noir/detective elements to the point just before the whole thing bubbles over into camp (although the movie comes dangerously close towards the end). I wouldn’t call Angel Heart scary but it is effectively spooky and the unraveling of the mystery is quite expertly done.
The movie does get under your skin, which is exactly what it’s supposed to do.