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The Devil, you say?
on 28 May 2011
Angel Heart is a great premise and a terrific twist in search of a good movie, or at least a better script as Mickey Rourke's lowlife private eye is hired by the Devil to track down a defaulter who's sold his soul but done a disappearing act come collecting time - something the audience knows long before he cottons on himself. It's a great idea for a neo-noir, set in a murkily realised post WW2 New Orleans, but unfortunately Alan Parker mistakes endless shots of fans or shadowy elevators for atmosphere, provides a screenplay that lacks thrills, chills or even momentum but does really hammer home the elevator metaphors, while Robert De Niro gives a foretaste of the hackwork to come with the screen's least impressive Lou Cypher (you see what they did there?). If anything, it seems even less impressive now than when it came out in 1987.
The film's had a less than satisfactory time of it on both DVD and Bluray in the UK. All versions are slightly cut by the BBFC because of animal cruelty (although the sex scene that was edited for US release remained uncut), and none have outstanding transfers. The first release included an audio commentary and interview with Parker, brief EPK featurettes and, in the first copies, a 64 page paperback book on the making of the film. Its subsequent two-disc reissue included a whole new disc of extras, but these were more interested in voodoo than the film itself, while the Bluray was completely extras-free. Lionsgate's US region-free Bluray offers the film completely uncut in an unrated version with an excellent transfer, dropping the voodoo extras but carrying over the audio commentary and an interview with Parker, a scene-specific commentary and on-camera interview with Rourke (complete with pet Chihuahua and frighteningly bad plastic surgery) and a trailer.