Picks and Pans Review: Angel Heart

updated 03/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Let's hear the boo of the week for this morose and muddled mix of black magic and detective story. The whole mess might have disappeared quickly were it not for the publicity about an interracial sex scene between Mickey Rourke and 19-year-old Lisa Bonet of The Cosby Show, which earned the film an X rating until director Alan (Birdy) Parker snipped the offending 10 seconds. In both versions, Miss Bonet, playing a mambo priestess, looks lovely in and out of her clothes. Still, those in search of erotic titillation are doomed to frustration. What makes the scene (with or without those 10 seconds) repulsive is not the sex—the usual softcore faking it—but the violent imagery. Rourke and Bonet fornicate to a frazzle while fresh chicken blood pours from the ceilings and walls to cover their writhing bodies. For chicken blood fanciers, Angel Heart is the movie of the year. Other hapless viewers will have to busy themselves figuring out the plot. Rourke, a fine actor with an unerring knack for choosing the wrong movies, is a private eye, circa 1955, named Harry Angel. Names are important in this movie, so pay attention. Angel is hired by an elegantly satanic Robert De Niro, who calls himself Louis Cyphre (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). De Niro, wisely playing this twaddle for laughs, has long hair tied in a bun and Fu Manchu fingernails. He wants Rourke to find a pop singer named Johnny Favorite. It seems De Niro financed Favorite's crooning career and wants recompense. Favorite, however, suffered amnesia and disappeared from a mental hospital in 1943. Or did he? The trail leads to New Orleans, but what Rourke finds won't surprise fans of The Omen. Parker spews out his special effects gore. Some victims have their eyes, hearts and genitals nastily removed; another gets off easier by being dumped in a gooey pot of boiling gumbo. In Angel Heart, everything is chopped or mutilated. That includes the reputations of all involved in perpetrating these demented dregs. (R)

From Our Partners