I managed to cross a movie off my “want to watch list” last night – and that movie was Angel Heart, released in 1987. It was controversial for a number of reasons, including being nearly slapped with an “X” rating, and because it caused Lisa Bonet – whom you may know best as “Denise Huxtable” if you’re Gen X – or if you’re younger you might know her as “Jason Momoa’s wife.” You may also remember she was married to singer Lenny Kravitz for a minute (long enough to make a child named Zoe, whom is now an actor). What’s important in the case of this movie is that Bonet was fired after being in the movie (because she had topless scenes).
I’ve always had a bit of – shall we say – “fondness” for Robert DeNiro movies. I love his versatility as an actor, I love his “method actor” approach, I love his stage presence. In this particular movie, he plays a character named “Louis Cyphre,” which is a “punny” name considering the events in the film. But I’ll get to more of that in a bit! In this movie, “Louis” hires a private detective named Harry Angel (Rourke) to track down a singer he “helped” before World War 2. Cyphre helped the singer gain fame, and wanted “payment” for the favor. So Angel sets out to try tracking down this guy, and brings a trail of mayhem and bloodshed along with him – seasoned with voodoo magic, ritual sacrifice and so much more.
There are hundreds of other places on the Internets to read film reviews, including reviews of this film, so I’m not going to pretend this is a movie review or an actual synopsis. I just want to share my impressions of it. Long story short…I LOVED IT! Even though I’ve never been a Mickey Rourke fangirl, I’d definitely recommend watching this movie! It’s streamable on HBO Max, and last night was the last night of our “free trial.” It’s gritty, it’s dark, it’s sleazy, it’s violent – (vis a vis the sex scene where Rourke’s character hallucinates seeing the room being flooded with blood while he’s having sex) – seriously, if you want a good movie to watch after the kiddos have gone to bed, give this one a look! Just make sure they’re really asleep before you start watching!
Director Alan Parker had to cut 10 seconds of a sex scene in order for this movie to get an “R” rating (per the trivia notes on IMDB). Otherwise, it would have been slapped with the very box office unfriendly “X” rating (which is now called NC-17). For inquiring minds, YES the sex scene did involve Lisa Bonet (though you can barely see her under Mickey Rourke’s naked body).
After reading this, did you think that hallucinating a room being flooded with blood during sex was the most disturbing thing about this movie? Think again. I’ll give a couple of (SPOILER ALERT) hints. Daddy-daughter sex. Satan. Hearts being cut out of living bodies and eaten. This movie does not flinch and does NOT have a happy ending.
Seeing DeNiro play the Prince of Darkness (get it – “Louis Cyphre” – aka “Lucifer”) is THE number one reason to see this movie. He doesn’t have much screen time, but he makes every nanosecond count. Maybe I just love the long hair and beard he sports in the movie (OK, guilty)! Apparently he was trying to copy film director and friend Martin Scorsese. And no, I’m not saying Scorsese is actually Satan (Martin Scorsese is NOT Satan)!
Chances are, you’ll figure out what’s going on about 20 minutes into the film. But trust me – you’ll still want to keep watching to see how it all fits together (and eventually falls apart)!