Thursday, August 18

Angel Heart (1987) - 1988 TOWA/Pioneer LDC Japan LaserDisc

Fantastic cover art...
Just to recap when I reviewed Lionsgate's Blu-ray: "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."

That experience was consistent when watching this Japanese LaserDisc last night. It's amazing how I always forget large chunks of Angel Heart and the last half still feels jammed up as it pushes clues pointing to Harry's obvious fate too hard. I guess that's part of the allure of Parker's film and how it's based in a chilling notion most everyone has pondered at least once. What if you really weren't who you always believed you were? And what if something radically life-altering appeared from this unknown past to reveal and claim your true self? That could echo a health condition based on family ancestry, but for Rourke's Angel, the reality of such a scenario is unimaginable.

TOWA's Japanese LD isn't anything special compared to the existing Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray. In fact, it's edited in both the once controversial nightmarish sex scene between Rourke and Bonet, seen uncut on the DVD/BD, and entirely of the cockfighting snippet in the horsetrack sequence. The disturbing imagery remains in the sex scene, after the blood starts dripping in the water pitcher, but the "violent gory humping" shots are removed.

Further more, the edited sex scene is completely taken from an inferior source shifting in picture quality at the moment Bonet steps forward from the dresser radio (@ 1:26:24 on the SE DVD) until the fat detective's fist is seen wrapping on the door the next morning. I'm unsure what the original Japanese theatrical version contained, but it appears the print (complete with reel change burns) used for this LD was edited in such a way to avoid the scene yet remain coherent.

Otherwise, the presentation is in unmatted full frame and bears CAROLCO's old logo that looks smeared with mud. Picture quality is very good for a print with minimal damage usually around the reel changes. The English Digital PCM stereo track is excellent and the Japanese subtitles are curiously handwritten in a long and slender style. A LaserDisc logo appears briefly in the bottom right in the first shot of the back alley along with De Niro's opening credit. Finally, the three-page gatefold insert includes the behind-the-scenes photo of Parker beside the decapitated body of Winesap (his tie indeed matches), a scene filmed but not seen in the film or deleted scenes.

From Wikipedia: "Winesap's death was filmed but never included in the theatrical film, nor was it included in the deleted scenes on the DVD release. The only evidence of its existence is a fleeting shot during the love scene as well as an on-set photograph from a 1987 issue of Fangoria which shows director Alan Parker crouching over the prosthetic mannequin of Florek's character. From the photograph, it can be inferred that Winesap was decapitated by an industrial fan in an unknown building by an unknown party; because Winesap was alive in New York during Angel's stay in New Orleans, it is likely that Cyphre had him killed remotely. The shot during the love scene shows an unknown man grasping Winesap by the lapels of his jacket and is followed by a shot of an industrial fan in an unnamed location. It is also likely that some of the footage of veiled people cleaning blood off of walls were also from this scene."

Spooky Japanese trailer which I absolutely love...

1 comment:

Jason said...

Hey, Jayson, can you please show us CAROLCO's old logo on YouTube, so we could understand what you're talking about? you dare tread upon the staircase?

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