The down-and-out private detective Harry Angel is ordered, by a mysterious man named Louis Cyphre, to go on a mission to find a missing person. His routine failure soon leads to a bloody spar with himself as Harry Angel goes on a supernatural journey into his own soul.
Writer/director Alan Parker’s supernatural-mystery film noir was set in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was immediately controversial for the nudity and sex scenes of one of its stars, Lisa Bonet in her film debut, who was a child star as Denise Huxtable in the family TV show The Cosby Show.
It offered the tagline:
It will scare you to your very soul.
The thrilling film told about seedy Brooklyn private detective Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) who was hired by mysterious Louis Cyphre (Robert De Niro) (noted for having long fingernails) to investigate a missing persons case – to locate a big-band crooner and WWII draftee named Johnny Favourite, who had been neurologically wounded during military action. As he tracked down Favourite, many of the individuals he questioned or came into contact with ended up dead.
In the film’s well-known plot twist, Favourite turned out to have sold his soul to the devil (Lu-cifer) for fame, then reneged on the contracted bargain, hid out, and took the alias of Harry Angel.
During the course of his work, Harry encountered an illegitimate, half-Creole, teenaged voodoo practitioner Epiphany Proudfoot, reportedly the daughter of Favourite and Evangeline Proudfoot. He witnessed Epiphany’s participation in a voodoo ritual in which she was scantily-clad as she slit a chicken’s throat and let the spurting blood drip down her face, neck and breasts. In another bloody scene, fortune teller and voodoo practitioner Margaret Krusemark (Charlotte Rampling) was found dead, with her heart cut out with a sacrificial knife.
The film included a notorious, steamy sex scene (originally NC-17-rated, but trimmed for an R-rating) of abandoned sexuality (with the theme of blood sacrifice) between them. They made love on a bed with raindrops (and chicken blood) dripping from the ceiling through the leaky hotel roof during a rainstorm, while listening to the radio playing the sultry tune “Soul on Fire” by Laverne Baker. He was unintentionally having incestuous sex with her.
And then Harry ‘woke up’ and found himself strangling her. The film shockingly concluded with Epiphany bloodied and dead on the bed (with a gunshot to the groin), with Harry’s military ‘dog-tags’ around her neck. Harry had killed his own daughter. Harry was then convicted of the murder and doomed to burn in Hell, as Cyphre had warned.
Director: Alan Parker
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