|Directed by||Alan Parker|
|Produced by||Elliott Kastner
Robert De Niro
|Music by||Trevor Jones|
|Editing by||Gerry Hambling|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Release date(s)||March 6, 1987|
|Running time||113 minutes|
Angel Heart is a 1987 mystery-thriller film written and directed by Alan Parker, and starring Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro and Lisa Bonet. The film is adapted from the novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg, and is generally faithful to the novel with the exceptions being the introduction of a child of Epiphany Proudfoot conceived at a voodoo ceremony by "a devil", and that the novel never leaves New York City, whereas much of the action of the film occurs in New Orleans.
The movie opens in January 1955. Mickey Rourke plays Harry Angel, a seedy private investigator in New York City. Louis Cyphre (De Niro) hires Angel to locate Johnny Favorite, a popular big band crooner who was severely injured in World War II and hospitalized with profound neurological trauma. Cyphre has discovered that the hospital may have falsified Favorite's records and wants Angel to find out what happened, as Favorite owed a debt to Cyphre.
But there's more to the case than initially appears, as the doctor who treated Johnny at the hospital is soon found dead after Harry questions him. The detective also has some serious reservations about the enigmatic Mr. Cyphre, who is vague about the "debt" that Favorite owes to him. At the same time Angel begins to detect hints of bizarre religious underpinnings to the case. Despite his misgivings, Harry accepts Cyphre's offer of $5,000 to continue with his investigations.
Angel travels to New Orleans as he digs deeper into the case, delving into a world of voodoo and Satanism and growing increasingly worried for his own safety. One informant after another that he speaks to turns up dead. Angel fears becoming a suspect in their murders and he begins experiencing terrifying dreams. One contact, Epiphany Proudfoot (Lisa Bonet), the beautiful 17-year-old daughter of a deceased voodoo priestess and, she eventually admits, Favorite's daughter, becomes his lover. In the film's twist ending, Angel is faced with the fact that he is Johnny Favorite himself, having attempted to escape the selling of his soul to the Devil by taking the place and identity of the original Harry Angel, a soldier returning from the war whom Favorite had abducted, ritually killed, and cannibalized. Angel's conviction that he is simply being framed for the bloody murders is shown to be wrong. Acting under the influence of Cyphre, who is ultimately revealed to be the Devil himself (his name, Louis Cyphre, is a play on the name Lucifer), he has committed and suppressed the memory of each of the murders, the last being that of Epiphany, murdered with a pistol shot in her vagina. With Johnny finally remembering the truth, and since he will be executed for the murders, Cyphre can at last claim what is his: Favorite's immortal soul. Over the end credits, there is a lengthy sequence of a silhouetted Angel descending in an ancient iron Otis elevator cage, apparently on his way to Hell.
Angel Heart gained attention and controversy even before its release. Bonet was previously known for her role on the family-oriented sitcom The Cosby Show, and several seconds of her extended, graphic and blood-drenched sex scene with Rourke had to be trimmed in order to secure the film an 'R' rating on initial release.
Some blamed the controversy for Bonet's departure from The Cosby Show, even though she starred in another Cosby-produced program, A Different World which premiered in 1987.
Rotten Tomatoes counted 21 reviews with 76 percent of them being "fresh" or favorable; Average Rating: 7.2/10. Angel Heart broke even at the box office with its budget of $17 million. After being released on home video it became something of a cult film, appreciated for its unsettling tone, bleak cinematography (by Michael Seresin), its sad and eerie score (by Trevor Jones), and its blend of genres.