Angel (1984)

Angel (1984)

“You’re young, attractive, and healthy — and swimming in a toilet bowl!”

Abandoned by her mother, a 15-year-old (Donna Wilkes) is an honor student by day, and a Hollywood hooker (“Angel”) by night. When Angel witnesses one of her friends being murdered by a necrophilic serial killer (John Diehl), she gains protection from a detective (Cliff Gorman) who tries to convince her to get off the streets.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Mistaken Identities
  • Prostitution
  • Serial Killers
  • Survival

Response to Peary’s Review:
This infamous teenage exploitation flick by New World Cinema is much tamer than its well-publicized tagline — “High School Honor Student By Day, Hollywood Hooker By Night” — would suggest. As noted by Peary and others (see links below), Wilkes never takes her clothes off, and thus her work is implied rather than shown.

If it wasn’t for a deranged serial killer on the loose, it seems that Angel wouldn’t be in trouble at all — indeed, she’s surrounded by countless paternal figures, who we’re sure will keep her from lasting harm. Wilkes is okay here, but most enjoyable are the supporting performances by her “offbeat” friends — including Dick Shawn as a transvestite hooker (with a heart of gold, naturally), and Susan Tyrrell as her crotchety landlady. Angel‘s plot bears some similarity to The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1978): like Jodie Foster’s Rynn, Molly/Angel is dead set against anyone finding out that she’s surviving on her own. Three sequels followed this phenomenal money-maker: Avenging Angel (1985), Angel III: The Final Chapter (1988), and Angel 4: Undercover (1993).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Susan Tyrrell as Angel’s foul-mouthed lesbian landlady
  • Dick Shawn as Angel’s transvestite-hooker friend

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look simply for its infamous place in the history of exploitation cinema.


One thought on “Angel (1984)

  1. First viewing. OUCH!!!

    Where can I possibly begin to explain how bad (without being good-bad) this movie is?! And where could I possibly end?!

    This is absolute crap. Interesting that it made a whole lot of money. …Well, no, not that interesting, but not surprising…even if you still wonder who the hell would have flocked to this.

    The script is a joke. Dialogue really doesn’t come much worse than this (though, yes, I’ve heard worse). Not only is it stupid on its own terms but it’s also a cheat. It’s like hooking up with a hooker who won’t have sex with you (much like the way the protagonist is shown). If a script is going to cover territory like this, there’s no room for half-measures. If it convincingly captured the polar opposites of the world of street prostitution and a posh high school, you might be able to at least be drawn in on some level. But that’s asking a film like this to be ambitious. And its ‘concerns’ are strictly sub-par…well, whatever it is it’s aiming for. It’s kind of like the writers were fond of things like ‘Cruising’, ‘Ms. 45’, ‘Crimes of Passion’ and ‘Carrie’…and just threw various elements of those films into one.

    Of the cast…Wilkes is the worst (poor thing; when she says, “I’ve had sex with hundreds of men.”…you can’t help but giggle). But even actors with more talent – like Shawn, Tyrrell & Gorman – are completely adrift here. Tyrrell certainly looks her part (nice make-up and wardrobe for a lesbian landlady) but the part is tiny and gives her little to play; Gorman has fun with a few of his line readings but most of what he says is hackneyed; Shawn (and what kind of transvestite is he supposed to be anyway? – is he a hooker?, is it a hobby?; it’s like it’s his ‘first day on the job’) gets in the only bit of ‘fun’ the film affords: he keeps cracking jokes as he’s about to be killed.

    Most would be forgiven if the film had some genuine camp value. Alas, this is just dumb.

Leave a Reply