Robert DeNiro comes on screen very quickly. His fingernails are sharpened like demonic claws. There is another religious theme that shows itself right away, the “name it and claim it” prosperity gospel. This draws us in to this mysterious horror film. As of 4/26/2019 Angel Heart was streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The rest of this review contains spoilers.
Mickey Rourke’s character is a private investigator. He’s been retained by DeNiro’s character, “Mr. Cypher” to find Johnny Favorite. He has to determine whether he is alive or dead. Sounds easy enough? I think it’s clear at the get go Cypher is not of this world. I originally suspected he was the devil. It was pretty neat to see Kathleen Wilholte as the records clerk. I recalled seeing her as Luke’s sister on Gilmore Girls.
Rourke’s character “Harry Angel” interrogates a poor of addicted doctor in his own home. You can see right away Rourke is used to dealing in unorthodox methods. After getting some info on Johnny Liebling (Favorite) , he locks the old man in his room. He is a quite brutal interrogator. Upon returning, he sees the old man has committed suicide. He was an addict but it seems somehow implausible that he would do it. Angel tries to get out of the job and Cypher lures him in with $5000. He was previously making $120 a day. Although he is spooked and possibly a murder suspect, Angel reaffirms himself to the case.
He discovers Johnny Favorite is some kind of deceiver. He’s had facial reconstructive surgery and paid off a doctor to claim he is still in the hospital when he is out and doing things. Just what he is doing we don’t know at this point. Continuing the journey, Angel meets up with his informant girlfriend. She strips naked while talking to him and they make love. This is all despite his almost hallucinatory visions he starts having about wheels and fans and shady places. Rourke looks so cool in this film. It’s a gumshoe film noir.
He proceeds down to Coney Island and has a conversation with a woman who once knew Johnny Favorite. He finds out there was some witchcraft associated with the guy. A lady from the carnival was introducing him to it. His character just gets more and more mysterious from that point.
Angel tracks down a fortune telling woman played by Charlotte Rampling and rings her doorbell. The New York buildings and antique interiors are beautiful. They serve to entrance you. There is a supernatural vibe throughout. All the familiar faces here are very young. After all, it is from 1987. She tells Angel Johnny is dead and seems offended. She kicks him out. He wants his palm read but she says, “I don’t think you’d like what I see.”
He goes into a Cajun Voodoo shop and asks about a woman named Evangeline Proudfoot. He rents a car to venture out to see her. She is dead but her daughter is played by Lisa Bonet, most will remember her as one of the daughters on the Cosby Show. She looks great soaking wet, t-shirt and all. Soon she’s in a scene writing to a drumbeat naked pouring chicken blood on her chest. Times have changed I guess, especially if you think about how Cosby is in jail for feeding ruffees to women and raping them.
To make a long plot shorter, we end up finding out that Angel was being paid by the devil himself (DeNiro) to investigate and reveal his own misdeeds. The end of the film is a revelation to Angel that he is indeed Johnny and he’s been living in someone else’s memories. I don’t really get the very end of the film. It’s spooky and creepy but doesn’t make a lot of sense. That babies yellow eyes? WTF. This is an incredible film from 1987. Over and out.