Horror Movie Review: Angel Heart (1987)

“They say there’s enough religion in the world to make men hate each other, but not enough to make them love.”

 Angel Heart is a 1987 American neo-noir psychological horror film and an adaptation of William Hjortsberg’s 1978 novel Falling Angel. The film was written and directed by Alan Parker, and stars Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet and Charlotte Rampling.

In 1955, Harry Angel, a New York City private investigator, is contracted by a man named Louis Cyphre to track down John Liebling, a crooner known professionally as Johnny Favorite who suffered severe neurological trauma resulting from injuries he received in World War II. Favorite’s incapacity disrupted a contract with Cyphre regarding unspecified collateral. Cyphre believes that a private upstate hospital where Favorite was receiving radical psychiatric treatment for shell shock has falsified records.

Angel goes to the hospital and discovers that the records showing Favorite’s transfer were indeed falsified by a physician named Albert Fowler. After Angel breaks into his home, Fowler admits that years ago he was bribed by a man and woman so that the two could abscond with the disfigured Favorite. Believing that Fowler is still withholding information, Angel locks him in his bedroom, forcing him to suffer withdrawal from a morphine addiction. The next morning, he finds that the doctor has apparently committed suicide.

Angel tries to break his contract with Cyphre but agrees to continue the search when Cyphre offers him a large sum of money. He soon discovers that Favorite had a wealthy fiancée named Margaret Krusemark but had also begun a secret love affair with a woman named Evangeline Proudfoot. Angel travels to New Orleans and meets with Margaret, who divulges little information, telling him that Favorite is dead, or at least dead to her. Angel then discovers that Evangeline died several years previously, but is survived by her 17-year-old daughter, Epiphany Proudfoot, who was conceived during her mother’s love affair with Favorite.

When Epiphany is reluctant to speak, Angel tracks down Toots Sweet, a blues guitarist and former Favorite bandmate. After Angel uses force to try to extract details of Favorite’s last known whereabouts, Toots refers him back to Margaret. The following morning, police detectives inform Angel that Toots has been murdered. Angel returns to Margaret’s home, where he finds her murdered, her heart removed with a ceremonial knife. He is later attacked by enforcers of Ethan Krusemark—a powerful Louisiana patriarch and Margaret’s father—who tell him to leave town.

Angel returns to his hotel and finds Epiphany on his doorstep. He invites her into his room, where they have aggressive sex during which Angel has visions of blood dripping from the ceiling and splashing around the room. He later confronts Krusemark in a gumbo hut, where the latter reveals that he and Margaret were the ones who took Favorite from the hospital.

As the pieces come together in the case, will Angel finally find the truth or will the truth find him?

From the get go I had pretty much figured out the twist. If you’ve ever seen any twist ever you’ll probably figure it out fairly quickly too. But what you don’t know is the logistics. And it’s the how’s and the why’s that keep you intrigued throughout the journey. Despite knowing, you still don’t truly know until the end.

Angel Heart is enjoyable and entertaining, a mystery you want to see unfold from beginning to end. Although it’s quite lengthy and takes place at a number of different locations with lots of talking scenes, I never felt bored. It never dragged. I felt completely invested for every moment of it.

Angel Heart’s effects look great, very realistic and immersive. They hold up extremely well and are gory. The whole movie has a cool noir detective vibe.

Mickey Rourke plays Harry Angel beautifully, you’re with him to the end and want to find out the truth no matter the cost. Everyone acts very well. De Niro and Rourke deserved more scenes together as they played off each other perfectly. Everyone definitely takes the movie seriously and gives it their all.

Overall, Angel Heart is a noir detective horror surrounding a gory mystery laced in Satanism and murder. For me it was reminiscent of Hellraiser Inferno almost. There’s some really great psychological horror going on in this film and you’ll definitely remember it after it fades to black.




Angel Heart
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