Angel & Avenging Angel Written by: Robert Vincent O’Neill and Joseph Michael Cala
Angel & Avenging Angel Directed by Robert Vincent O’Neill
Angel III Written & Directed by Tom DeSimone
Starring: Donna Wilkes, Betsy Russell, Mitzi Kapture, Rory Calhoun, Susan Tyrrell, Dick Shawn
- Informational Booklet
- Deleted Scenes (Angel)
- Poster and Still Gallery (Avenging Angel)
Released by: Anchor Bay
My Advice: Rent It
[ad#longpost]Abandoned by her parents at a young age, fifteen year old Molly Stewart (Wilkes) chose not be a victim of the state foster care system. She still attends a pretentious private school and excels academically. Now how she pays her tuition and rent is a little unusual: she’s a hooker down in Hollywood Boulevard known as Angel…and she keeps her nocturnal activities a closely guarded secret from her classmates. She also makes sure to keep herself clean, doesn’t have a pimp to deal with and has good friends on the street to help her out. Like cross-dresser Mae (Shawn), lesbian landlady Solly (Tyrrell) and retired cowboy actor Kit Carson (Calhoun). Her world gets shattered when she becomes a witness to a serial killer hunting down prostitutes and LAPD Lt. Andrews (Cliff Gorman) is trying to keep her safe, but she may have to take matters into her own hands.
Five years later, Molly (now Russell) is a successful law student and college athlete and has left The Life with the help of Lt. Andrews. But when Andrews is killed trying to help an undercover cop whose cover has been blown, Molly decides to revive Angel and reconnect with her friends in from her old life. With Solly, Kit Carson, and sparkly street magician Johnny Glitter (Barry Pearl), she’s up against a mob family’s takeover of Hollywood and their brutal shotgun wielding thugs. But they don’t know what there in for when they go up an Avenging Angel.
Even later, a photographer in New York, Molly (now Kapture) has a chance encounter with the mother that abandoned her all those years ago. Meeting with her in L.A., the mom tells Molly she has a sister but she’s in trouble. Molly finds out what kind of trouble when her mom is taken out by a car bomb. Molly once again takes the guise of the Hollywood hooker Angel to follow her sister into a dangerous world of pornography, white slavery, and illegal drugs. With brutal killers around every corner, the tile, Angel III: The Final Chapter, might be an accurate title.
A fascinating look at what people watched before the big porn explosion of the 90s, The Angel Collection is a trilogy of pure unadulterated 80s exploitation cheese. You got your titty shots, some bloody bits of action, and a paper thin plot to hold it together. Kind of like a Vietnamese spring roll flavored with big hair, neon lights and shoulder pads. And like a spring roll, it’s not very filling, but it’s still a tasty snack. It’s fun to see the films portray Hollywood as a nightly carnival of freaks, weirdos, and sexy people where Angel seems to be enjoying herself. Then you have to have the scene where Angel confesses that she actually hates the life or warns off some young girl before she goes too deep. I suppose it’s the price you pay for all that titillation. Another bit of exploitation fun is Angel getting right in the action with guns blazing. She could be seen as a early prototype of a female action hero. Of course, you have to get past seeing a young girl in three inch heels shooting a large handgun without falling on her butt…but okay.
What puts two of the three movies slightly above the rest is the supporting cast. Don’t get me wrong, the three actresses who played Angel did well enough in the role, but the caliber of actor that played Angel’s friends is considerable. Dick Shawn, who was Angel’s transvestite friend Mae, was a well regarded comic actor and comedian (you might remember him from The Producers). Susan Tyrrell, who played the in your face lesbian landlady Solly, was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Rory Calhoun, who played movie cowboy Kit Karson, actually did appear in several Western movies and TV shows. I usually find that the supporting cast can raise a film above the herd. It also helps that actors are fully aware of the cheesy nature of what they’re in and are enjoying taking their performances to 11. This is the problem with the third film where the supporting cast is sub par. The whole cast takes the movie way too seriously and forgets the relatively light tone the other two film had. It’s somewhat of a chore to watch and no where near as fun.
The features for this box set are light. All the movies have trailers, Angel has a few deleted scenes, and Avenging Angel has a publicity photo gallery. But there is a booklet in with the set that gives a brief but informative history of the Angel movies. Still the movies are enjoyable enough. So if you want some sleazy exploitation action to watch, check out The Angel Collection.