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  Angel Night Life
Year: 1984
Director: Robert Vincent O'Neill
Stars: Donna Wilkes, Cliff Gorman, Susan Tyrrell, Dick Shawn, Rory Calhoun, John Diehl, Elaine Giftos, Donna McDaniel, Graem McGavin, Mel Carter, Steven M. Porter, David Underwood, David Anthony, Joshua Cadman, Greg Lewis, Karyn Parker, Dennis Kort, Ken Olfson
Genre: Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: By day, Molly Stuart (Donna Wilkes) is a high school student, doing well enough but for some reason failing to join in with the after-school activities. This is because by night she wanders Hollywood as a prostitute, unbeknownst to her classmates and teachers, but this is where her real friends are as she lives alone, supposedly with her ailing mother, but that's simply a made-up story to keep people off her back. This is not a great way of life for a teenager, and to put her in even more danger there is a serial killer (John Diehl) stalking the streets she and her fellow prostitutes use to pick up their tricks...

A New World release, Angel made quite a bit of money for it company thanks to the prurience of the audiences attracted by the teen whore angle to the plot. But they would be disappointed to see that Wilkes, actually twenty-four years old when this was made, stayed resolutely clothed throughout and there were no scenes showing us precisely how she made her cash. In fact, save for the psycho killer part, the first half the film makes this lifestyle appear reasonable, with no evil pimps or drug abuse to sully the camaraderie between Molly, or Angel as she calls herself, and the eccentrics who populate her world.

Scripted by its director Robert Vincent O'Neill with Joseph Michael Cala, there is a smattering of female nudity, but as a counterpoint to that they seem just as interested in seeing the musclebound killer with his clothes off and performing his exercise regime, which includes an unusual method of eating eggs. But if the bad guy is an evil weirdo, then Molly's pals are the good kind, and include the unbeatable team of Rory Calhoun (a movie cowboy calling himself Kit Carson who signs autographs for people who don't know who he is), Susan Tyrrell (as Molly's butch, oddly made-up landlady) and Dick Shawn (a towering, wisecracking transvesitite called Mae).

Those guys could brighten up any film and it's a pleasure to see them steal the limelight from the less interesting Wilkes (an Eileen Brennan lookalike). But the filmmakers wish to make the situation difficult for Molly, and for most of the movie it comes across as though her friends are being bumped off one by one, so that by the end she will have no one left to sympathise with her plight. Halfway through she undergoes a personal crisis when the shame of how she pays her bills catches up with her, as if to tell the young girls in the audience not to turn to whoring to get by.

So you see, a message there too. As Molly's actual family have effectively deserted her, she finds a new one with Kit as her father and Mae as her unlikely mother, but it's police lieutenant Andrews (Cliff Gorman) who will be her main protector as he tracks the baddie. A baddie who, and it's the quirks like this which makes Angel not too bad considering, has shaved his head and disguised himself as a Hare Krishna when he is picked out of a police lineup by Molly and proceeds to shot up the place in his efforts to escape. It could have been worse, far more sleazy than it is, but if it partly paints a rosy view of prostitution (though not as badly as Pretty Woman does) then at least it has sympathy with its misfit characters - the non-murderous ones, in any case. Music by Craig Safan.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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