1984-a-thon, a celebration of the finest year in cinema: 1984! You can check out a ton of other reviews for just about every movie from 1984 over at Forgotten Films. Thanks to Todd who runs that fine film website for letting us take part in the festivities!
1984 brought us Ghostbusters, Gremlins, breakdancing and Steve Guttenberg as a leading man. It also gave us one of the finest films in the Dead Hooker genre, "Angel."
Molly is a pretty high school girl attending a private academy somewhere in Los Angeles. She looks like she might be pushing her late 20's but she has pigtails so she must be 15. During her school hours she puts up with homework, tests, gym class and the school jock who wants to date her - but he's a jerk! Then at night, Molly puts on her black leather mini-skirt, red high heels and a ton of makeup (the standard hooker uniform) and hits Hollywood Boulevard as Angel the hooker.
It sounds rough but Hollywood Blvd circa 1984 must have been such a fun place. Angel has a whole group of friends she hangs out with on the strip. There's Yo-Yo, the Charlie Chaplin impersonator; Kit Carson, the ex-movie cowboy, and Mae, a transvestite who's as quick with a one-liner as she is with whatever else transvestites are quick with. Angel also has a group of equally attractive girlfriends who are also hookers. We don't get to know the other girls too well because it turns out there's a crazy hooker killer on the loose and he's killing hookers!
The fact that there's a crazy hooker killer killing hookers in the hooker's town is enough to make hookers and their cowboy friend yell at the cops and tell them they ain't doing their job. However, a guy killing hookers isn't enough to make hookers stop going into dark alleys and seedy motels with complete strangers. I mean, a girl's gotta make money, right!? One by one, Angel's lady friends are getting picked off...and the cops seem to think all these prostitute murders just somehow might be connected.
The guy killing hookers has got quite a backstory, or at least we assume he does. He's got newspaper clippings taped up all over a wall in his hotel room. Good newspaper clippings are never taped to the wall, it's always the clippings that piece together a crazy person's slow decent into madness. Even though we can't make out a word on those newspaper articles, we know this guy is a real sicko. He does things like shirtless sit-ups on a slanted board, eating an egg by poking a tiny hole in it with a huge knife and sucking out the innards, cutting his own hair and worse of all...he puts his boots up on the seat in front of him at the porno theater!
As you may have guessed by now, this movie is more about prostitute murders than it is about the wacky or scandalous hi-jinks of a high school teenager turning tricks on the side. The high school side of Molly's life doesn't come into play until an hour into the film. Her secret life is found out when some boys from school spot her on a street corner, throw her into their car and try and gang rape her. (Boys will be boys.) By the time the school nerd offers her $22 bucks for a date, Angel has had enough of high school, being a prostitute and having her friends killed by the town prostitute killer.
As Angel's world comes crashing down around her, she eventually gets pushed to the limit. She buys a gun from a KFC employee who passes her the gun in the bottom of her two piece leg and thy combo meal. Angel takes to the street looking for the infamous hooker killer. When she catches up with him, an anti-climatic and confusing foot chase ensues for what seems like 12 minutes.
"Angel" isn't a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it has enough going for it to make it work somehow. After all, the movie did win Best Feature at the 1984 San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival! The performances are fun. The adorable Donna Wilkes (Jaws 2) is perfect as Molly/Angel. Dick Shawn (who once played Jack Tripper's father on Three's Company) steals the show as Angel's sidekick Mae the Transvestite. Veteran character actor John Diehl is super creepy as the guy killing all the hookers. Rory Calhoun looks like he's having a blast playing the aging cowboy movie star and he must have because he's the only one that reprises his role in the sequel. Only Cliff Gorman as Lt. Andrews looks like he's pretty bored with the whole affair.
With a tag line like "High School Honor Student By Day, Hollywood Hooker By Night" you'd expect a pretty steamy flick, but this drive-in classic doesn't offer much more than some gratuitous locker room nudity. We never see any of the girls turn a single trick and even the violence is kept to a minimum.
In the end, "Angel" is a silly and brainless offering that's one part comedy, one part exploitation film, and one part crime drama. It was profitable enough to have a sequel the following year, "Avenging Angel" and two more down the pike: 1988's "Angel III: The Final Chapter" and "Angel 4: Undercover" in 1994.
You can find "Angel" digitally through Amazon Instant Video as a rental or purchase, the DVD is also available for purchase through Amazon or rental from Netflix DVD.
Hey! While you're here...why don't you read some of these other movie posts:
10 Best Movies With Robots In Them
10 Favorite High School Movies
10 Great Summer Movies