Monday, May 5, 2014

B-MOVIE REVIEW: "Night Angel" (1990)

It's a horror flick about a sex demon that tries to eat the entire staff of a fashion magazine; need I tell you anything more?

Sex and horror movies are two things that are literally wedded two each other; indeed, its hard to think of a single slasher or monster movie that doesn't have some kind of explicit sexual aspect or subtext. Every now and then, you'll encounter a genre flick where sex isn't just a component of the film itself, but indeed the anchor of the entire plot; a film like "Hellraiser," for example, where all of the demons are S&M freakazoids, and virtually the entire David Cronenberg filmography, where practically everything is some sort of STD symbolism. 1990's "Night Angel," then, is a film you can kind of lump together with stuff like "Rabid" and "Society," where the movie is sorta' about the darker side of human sexuality, but instead of making some deep commentary on our physiological weaknesses, it's instead using the sex angle to spice up a fairly formulaic tale about the supernatural. Indeed, this "Night Angel" is much more akin to something like 1988's "The Kiss" or all of those damned "Witchcraft" movies, which I do believe took up an entire row of shelving at most video store horror sections in the mid-1990s. 

The film begins with voice-over giving us the historical background on Lilith, who was the biblical Adam's first wife, whom decided to abandon Eden to go out and consort with demons and stuff. This is coupled with the visual of desert sand slowly uncovering a skull, and an old black woman writhing in bed during a nightmare about a three-toed sloth crawling out of a sepulcher. After awhile, all of the mud and gunk falls off of the monster, and she's revealed to be this really hot Mediterranean-looking chick with an Overly-Attached Girlfriend glare permanently stretched across her brow. 

From there, we meet these misogynistic fashion magazine editors and an oafish Jimmy Olsen-type, who say all kinds of sexist things while ignoring a radio report about a mysterious rash of crib deaths. From there, we see the reborn Lilith driving around with this yuppie guy, and she tells him she wants to be on the cover of "Siren" magazine. After that, the two walk around his mansion for awhile (which, for some reason, is home to an unexpectedly high number of llamas) and they decide to do it on the same bed the guy's wife is currently sleeping on before Lil decides to jab her eight inch long fingernails into his chest and slash his spouses's throat. For some mysterious reason, one of the magazine editors from earlier, a dude named Craig, has some sort of remote viewing dream about the entire incident. 

The next day at the office, everybody finds out one of their colleagues died, but since they spent a lot of money on this big party to be held later that evening, they refuse to cancel it. The editors all get together and swap misogynistic jokes, when Craig's editor-in-chief Rita (played by B-movie royalty Karen Black) introduces him to her sister, an aspiring jewelry-designer named Kirstie. Needless to say, the painfully late '80s hairdos are out in full force during this scene. 

Long nail and Egyptian eye-makeup are in LUCK!

Then, Lil walks in and proceeds to drink a bottle of beer in a very suggestive manner. She also makes a woman's glass of hooch explode, but nobody seems to really care/notice at the moment. So Lil goes out on the dance floor and does this stripper pole routine while Ken -- the lanky office dorkus maximus -- cuts a rug like Crispin Glover in "Friday the 13th Part IV." Your typically snotty executive type decides to move in on Lil, and they make their way towards a suspiciously empty hotel and they start making out and Ken follows them, but can't seem to make his way past the glass entrance. So Lil drops her halter top and shows her garbanzas, which most be really majestic, because this super bright gold light shoots out of her cleavage. Using her Satanic powers, she then makes Ken's knees explode through the plate glass window and tricks the exec guy into taking a swan dive down an elevator shaft. 

The next day, Craig looks at some party pics, and Kirstie shows him her jewelry portfolio. They have this really long flirting scene where they talk about birthstones and Uranus, and then Craig runs into Lil rocking a Wicked Witch costume, and she tells him that she'll wear black panties to mourn the dude she kinda' killed last night. Craig visits Ken in the hospital, and when he brings up Lil, he starts freaking out and stuff. 

After that, Craig goes out on a date with Kirstie, while Lil decides to spend some quality time with Rita -- unfortunately, all of the lesbian stuff here, sadly, is just implied instead of being visualized for us. Craig and Kirstie proceed to do some really bad drunk dancing, while Rita and Lil engage in some sort of weird Voodoo sex ritual or something else along those lines. 

Morning comes, and Rita has ordered extensive magazine reshoots. A camera almost falls on Kirstie, and later than night, she and Craig have sex and he has a post-coitus dream that she turns into Lil and spits snakes at his face. 

An obvious reference to "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's WrestleMania V get-up, clearly...

Kirtstie then gives Craig an amethyst necklace, it being his birthstone and whatnot. Peculiarly, Lil refused to wear a similar trinket during a photo shoot a few moments earlier. Craig gets super angry, because everybody at the office have turned into super-horny miscreants all of a sudden, and then a picture of Lil -- in which she looks just like Mercyful Fate frontman King Diamond -- comes "alive" with fire and shit. Freaked out, Craig hits the road, and he's followed by a mysterious taxi cab. He ends up hiding out in a bar, where a midget with a big evil-book is waiting for him. Kirstie appears, but she quickly transforms into a Lilith-like goth raver slut, and then the entire club turns into this underworld S&M party, where these demons with melted faces for aerolas and George Washington wigs force him to drink dry ice beverages. While being assaulted by various Cenobite rip-offs dressed up in their best Blackie Lawless duds, the "real" Kirstie emerges and then in comes Lil, rocking the Delta Burke shoulderpads. She straddles Craig (presumably, for a bout of unprotected monster sex), but she touches his amulet and turns into a gourd-headed cat-monster for about half a second. After all of that, Craig snaps out of his "dream," and he meets the elderly black lady from the film's opening scene. As it turns out, she was the one commandeering the taxi cab, and she's actually trying to save him from Lil's nefarious schemes. She tells him about how her husband was eaten by Lil back in the 1930s, and gives the folks at home a summary of succubi lore. The only thing that can stop "Satan's Whore," she says, is the power of true love. And wouldn't you know it, she's going to be at her peak power on the sixth night of a black moon -- which, conveniently enough, is that very night

Sadie, the elderly black woman, tells Craig and Kirstie they will be safe within the consecrated walls of her abode, but since Kirstie wants to save her sister, she and her new boyfriend decide to hit up the "Siren" office for one more go-around. Of course, Rita is dead when they arrive, and now, the entire building is populated by demonoid sex mutants. Cue a slow-motion escape sequence, which culminates with Kirstie getting kidnapped after Ken knocks Craig out with a baseball bat. 

Sadie shows up in her taxi to save Craig, whom mulls whether or not the pictures of Lil in the upcoming magazine will cause everybody who walks by a newstand to turn into hyper-sexual retard monsters. Ken tries to have his way with Kirstie, whom promptly responds by jabbing a  lug wrench through his patella. Ken pursues her, while Sadie gives Craig this curvy sword, which conveniently enough, is the only weapon in the world with the power to destroy Lil's evil. Cue a flashback about Sadie's husband having his heart literally yanked out of his ribcage, and its time for our grand finale.

As soon as the final battle begins, Sadie has a heart attack while Ken has his heart squeezed out of his chest by Lil. With her dying breaths, Sadies tells Craig to find a cave, and sure enough, he encounters Lil on his quest to find said rocky orifice. She talks about Pazuzu for a bit and seduces Craig into taking off his necklace. She promises him the "eternal joys of lust," but she accidentally touches the amethyst amulet and it makes her hand melt off and she turns into Pumpkinhead. Cue a slow-mo attack from a not-quite-dead-anymore Sadie, which results in Lil's monstrous "true form" exploding in a shower of purple goop. This leads to a post-finale sequence with Craig and Kirstie in bed, culminating with Craig having a nightmare about demonic hands leaping out of the magazine cover with Lil on it. In an ending somewhat similar to "Halloween III" and "The Stuff," we never learn if the mass-shipped magazine lead to all out sex-monster-hysteria across the U.S. -- and since we haven't been blessed with a sequel half a century later, I reckon we'll always be stuck wondering what could've been here.

Give the engineers at L'oreal credit -- if they can make THIS THING look like a really hot Persian chick, they've crafted themselves some damn fine makeup.

The film was helmed by Dominque Othenin-Girard, this Swiss fellow who also directed "Halloween 5" and "The Omen IV" -- you know, the made-for-TV movie where Damien was inexplicably a girl now. The sultry succubus was played by Isa Anderson (now Isa Jank), who despite her Lebanese-eqsue cheekbones, is actually a Krautess, through and through; and if Craig looked familiar to you, he should -- that's because he was played by Linden Ashby, who portrayed Johnny Cage in those two "Mortal Kombat" movies from the 1990s

Strangely enough, the supporting cast in "Night Angel" seems to have had more post-filming ubiquity than its top three or four players. Kirstie was played by Debra Feuer, who is probably best known for being married to Mickey Rourke, until she realized, oh shit, she was married to Mickey Rourke. Sadie was played by character actress Helen Martin, who is probably best remembered for her role in "Don't Be A Menace in South Central while Drinking Your Juice in the Hood." And oddly enough, it's perhaps the actor who played Ken -- Doug Jones -- who has had the most successful run out of any of his graduating class. Among other roles, he's played the Silver Surfer, Abe Sapien and even that freaky eye-hand dude in "Pan's Labyrinth." Soap commercial handsome actors and big boobed dark haired chicks are a dime a dozen I guess; the lesson here being, if you want to make it in show business, perhaps its for the best to be a seven foot tall freak of nature who weighs 120 pounds instead. 

All in all, it's hard to get too excited about anything "Night Angel" throws at us. There are some good scenes I suppose -- especially the night club from hell sequence, which allowed poor-man's Tom Savini Steve Johnson to go bananas with the prosthetics and foam latex -- but as a whole, this is a pretty lackluster genre offering. The acting is pretty mediocre, and while the story did have some potential, it's clear that the film makers had nowhere near the budget to turn this thing into the subversive, anti-fashion horror flick they really wanted to make. At times, the film feels like it wants to be a real supernatural thriller like "Rosemary's Baby," and at others, it feels like a really crappy variation of "Fatal Attraction." The producers may have been able to surmount some of these issues by embracing its low-budget, exploitation roots, but the biggest problem with "Night Angel" is that it never gets trashy enough for its own good. I mean, for crying aloud, it's a movie about a sex demon trying to devour Madison Avenue execs -- this thing needed as much blood, boobies and off-color humor as it could. At best, "Night Angel" is a somewhat passable early 1990s horror relic, but if you're trying to scratch such an oddly specific itch, you could do WORLDS BETTER than this one; it's not the worst movie of its kind, but considering the sheer volume of similar films that outdo this one in every conceivable way, it's hard to think of any specific factor that would make this 'un worth going out of your way to screen.  

Two stars. Jimbo says check it out.  

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