Saturday, January 30

Some quick thoughts on Angel Heart (1987) and The Annoyances of Blu-ray

A nuclear family-period private dick (Mickey Rourke) with a greasy Manhattan accent is hired to track down an elusive musician in Bayou country. As a trail of death begins running red, the disquieting man (Robert De Niro) paying for the job seems unaffected while the detective's psyche and memory starts collapsing around the mysticism of the deep south and horrifying forces beyond his control.

So I popped in the Blu-ray of Alan Parker's Angel Heart late last nigh...morning and it seems wrong that I still don't love the film. There is some bottlenecking with the story's fairly-not-hard-to-guess revelations in the final half, but otherwise it's an extremely well-made, voodoo-fueled creeper with a genre blended pedigree that's unusual for its time.

Mickey Rourke's performance, just a few short years from his near total career derailment, proves the man has born at the wrong time and is trading in the wrong profession. The stubble-faced, then only slightly facially scarred actor just exudes his character from every one of his loose pores. Lisa Bonet outgrows her Cosby Show training wheels along with ultra pissing off Cosby himself over her lecherous, blood-soaked sex scene with Rourke. De Niro was still firmly giving a damn back then in a devilishly minor but important role sandwiched between fanastic turns in The Mission and The Untouchables. It's simply good stuff, acting as an "in-spirit" sister film to Adrian Lyne's Jacob's Ladder, but still Angel Heart doesn't resonant with me that well and each re-visit is almost like watching the film for the first time. That sounds bad, but shouldn't dissuade anyone from checking this one out pronto for themselves.

As for Lionsgate's Blu-ray, the 1080p transfer is only good, but not nearly as great as it could look. It's the kind of picture that doesn't seem that much better than the DVD, until you pop in the DVD with this Blu-ray's quality fresh in mind. It's clearly more detailed, solid, and richly colorful than the standard definition image. Still, it's a lazy job with a slightly processed appearance and clumpy grain structure. The almost perfect 5.1 lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track is better than the picture quality.

Here's the annoyance. This Blu-ray edition actually lacks some of the supplements found on the prior Special Edition DVD. Both share a director commentary, introduction, selected scene Rourke commentary, and interviews with Parker and Rourke. What's missing is an hour-long documentary on Voodoo, the 1987 behind the scenes featurette, and additional interviews with Parker and Bonet. It would have been no problem to fit this additional stuff onto this 25GB Blu-ray. Though strangely, Angel Heart's original theatrical trailer is on this Blu-ray despite not being on the DVD(?!?). I'm personally not the biggest extra feature watcher, but it just seems "right" to have all the material ported over when the DVD isn't that old and both are released by the same studio. At least there aren't twelve trailers and commercials at the beginning like many new release Blu-rays (i.e. - Saw VI) tend to have nowadays, argh.


I Like Horror Movies said...

Rent or buy for Angel Heart Jay? Been wanting to see it for a while

Franco Macabro said...

This movie is solid, except for that last shot of the babies eyes which just seems like such a low-fi effect. I mean, come on, these guys needed that one shot to be perfect, and they blew it, cause Ive seen it with some friends and some people find it funny...others find it freaky, me, I think its a mix of both.

Jayson Kennedy said...

I'd say it's a buy, Carl, especially if you like paced psychological thrillers tinged with horror, like Jacob's Ladder or Let's Scare Jessica to Death.

I agree, Mr. Connoisseur, the whole eyes thing wasn't needed anyway. It was obvious what was going on without that.

I Like Horror Movies said...

Sold me, love both of those films so I am all in. Ive been so close to purchasing it in the past but I just hadnt read any reviews, thanks man! you dare tread upon the staircase?

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