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the angel collection...high school honor student by day...hollywood hooker by night...

Posted by Brad Schelden, May 17, 2007 05:56pm | Post a Comment
I finally picked up a copy of the Angel Collection on DVD. Not the Buffy spin-off but the classic 80s teen prostitute saga, "Angel." The original Angel starred Donna Wilkes as Molly Stewart (Angel). She also starred in another one of my favorites "Grotesque" with Linda Blair.  She was Molly during the day, a perfect honor student in high school and then turned into Angel at night, the teenage Hollywood Boulevard prostitute. This movie was released in 1984 and directed by Robert Vincent O'Neill. He had directed some great cult films of the 70s such as "Wonder Women" about kung fu girls on the rampage and "Blood Mania" about a sex crazed nympho who kills her father for the inheritance.

I'm not sure why, but this was one of my favorites as a teenager. I watched it one day on cable and was sort of obsessed with it after that. I couldn't actually remember what it was even called until I found it a couple years ago. You can imagine my joy when i found out it was released as a widescreen DVD box set. The film went on to spawn 2 more movies, "Avenging Angel" and "Angel III: The Final Chapter." All 3 are included in the box set. There is actually a fourth movie made in 1994 "Angel: Undercover." I have never seen this one but I can only imagine how horrible it is. Although, I would not pass it up if it ever shows up on cable. Angel is played by a different actress in each movie. The best of the bunch is for sure the first. Unfortunately you will not find any much needed commentaries or documentaries. But they do at least give you some deleted scenes and the original theatrical trailers.

The film follows the story of Molly Stewart. Her mom has some crippling illness so she is forced to make a living for her family as a teenage prostitute. We later learn that Angel has actually lived alone since she was 12 after both her parents left her to fend for herself. However, this movie is really much more than your normal exploitation film. Angel actually takes control of her life and fights for justice for her slain friends. There is a crazy serial killer stalking Angel and her friends. And when I say crazy, I mean crazy. During one scene he scrubs his body until he bleeds after killing one of the prostitutes. So Angel gets the help of a local police officer to find the killer. Besides the obvious feminist theme of this movie it is also a great representation of Hollywood Boulevard of the 80s. The glamorous days of hollywood boulevard were long over. The street had been taken over by punks, freaks and prostitutes. They become Angel's family. She is basically adopted by an aging drag queen and a tough lesbian artist. They become the heart and soul of the movie. Rory Calhoun was excellent as the fading  cowboy Kit Carson. He had been in movies since the 40s and starred in over 1000 television episodes. He had two stars on the Hollywood walk of fame featured in the movie. Dick Shawn played the Drag Queen and later went on to play Commander Bog in Michael Jackson's Captain EO. The great Susan Tyrell, who plays the lesbian artist, was actually an oscar nominated actress. But is probably best know for her cult film work like roles as Midge Montana in Big Top Pee-Wee and Ramona Rickettes in Cry Baby.

The Hollywood Boulevard pictured in this movie is barely there anymore. It has not become the glamorous boulevard of the past but a sort of disney version of hollywood. It is now strictly for tourists. This movie really captures the feeling of the street in the 80s. It is all shot in locations that will be familiar to anyone familiar with Hollywood. The Roosevelt Hotel and Chinese theater are both featured in the film. The relationships that Angel develops with the street performers of Hollywood Boulevard are really something special and touching. While this movie might have the feel of a really good after school special on late night Cinemax, it still remains a classic in my mind. There are so many great scenes. In one scene Dick Shawn pretends to be Molly's mom when one of her teachers drops by. When the teacher says "I don't know who's mother you are, but you are definitely not Molly's mother. She replies "Well, I love her more than her real mom." Seriously, it's touching. The score is of course top notch and the sets and costumes are perfect. The ending of the movie is climatic and tear jerking. Of course it sets you up for wanting more. And with this box set you get two more Angel movies to get you through the night. I recommend an Angel Trilogy themed party.

Relevant Tags

Angel (4), Avenging Angel (1), Angel 3 (1)