Avenging Angel (1985)

I’ve spent the past hour trying to articulate the reason why I find Avenging Angel so charming, despite all the obvious evidence pointing toward it being a terrible film, and what I’ve come up with is the fact that there is something endearingly old-fashioned about its utter indifference to depicting the authentic reality of the world in which it’s supposed to be set.

Although much of it was filmed on the actual mean streets of Hollywood Boulevard, the film is so overtly contrived and artificial that it often plays less like a real movie than a broad parody of one. But what sets Avenging Angel apart from other similar films is that this disdain for authenticity is less a symptom of the filmmakers’ apathetic ignorance than a deliberate style choice.

I say this because for a flick that is supposed to be a sordid, sleazy, exploitation revenge thriller about a former underage hooker who returns to the life she left behind to avenge the murder of the police officer/surrogate father who got her off the mean streets and into law school, much of Avenging Angel plays out as straight-up intentional farce. Why director Robert Vincent O’Neill chose to go in this direction is a mystery, but it goes a long way toward making this sequel to his original Angel its own unique animal.

It also doesn’t hurt that the film stars Betsy Russell (Mrs. Jigsaw in the Saw sequels) as Molly/Angel, whose decision to don her old hooker uniform of halter top, high heels and miniskirt as part of her mission doesn’t make anything even remotely resembling sense, but does allow the actress to spend most of the movie dressed like a prostitute, which is an artistic choice with which I cannot find fault.

Never actually any good, but always strangely entertaining, Avenging Angel is one of those movies that’s best discovered by accident. It’s charm deriving less from what it actually is, but instead by what it determinedly isn’t. —Allan Mott

Buy it at Amazon.

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