DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

AVENGING ANGEL (director: Robert Vincent O'Neil; screenwriter: Joseph M. Cala; cinematographer: Peter Lyons Collister; editor: John R. Bowey; music:  Chris Young; cast: Betsy Russell (Molly "Angel" Stewart), Rory Calhoun (Kit Carson), C (Lt. Hugh Andrews), Ross Hagen (Ray Mitchell , hitman), Ossie Davis (Captain Harry Moradian), Paul Lambert (Arthur Garrard), Barry Pearl (Johnny Glitter), Susan Tyrrell (Sally Mosler); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Sandy Howard/Keith Rubinstein; Starmaker Entertainment (New World Pictures); 1985)

"There's not much to get excited about in this unimaginative crime story."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A sequel to Angel (1983). The script by Joseph M. Cala lacks an edge. The direction by Robert Vincent O'Neil ("Angel"/"Paco"/"Wonder Woman") succeeds mostly in getting the mini skirt costumes right.

Angel (Betsy Russell) is the former Hollywood teen hooker who four years later is a gun-toting graduating law student. Betsy takes on the role of Donna Wilkes in the original film. She goes undercover as a hooker to avenge the death of her officer detective friend (Joseph M. Cala) in an undercover sting of hookers. He saved her from street-life and paid her college tuition.

There's not much to get excited about in this unimaginative crime story. It seems to be made as an excuse to give us a few cheap thrills over nudity and some violence it softly promotes, and to show us that former western star Rory Calhoun has been at last located in a pic and is still alive.

REVIEWED ON 9/21/2015       GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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This sequel to ANGEL, the surprise exploitation hit of 1984, picks up the story of the "high school honor student by day--Hollywood hooker by night" four years later. Russell is now a law student about to graduate. She is visited by her friend detective Lyons, who saved her from the

streets and paid for her education. Lyons can't stay long, however, because he has to continue an investigation. In Hollywood four well-dressed assassins burst into the home of an undercover police detective, who has been posing as a hooker to get information, and kill her and her parents. Andrews

arrives as the killers are making their escape, and he, too, is brutally gunned down. When Molly learns of her benefactor's murder, she immediately returns to the mean streets of her past to avenge his death. As was the case with ANGEL, AVENGING ANGEL is amazingly tame stuff, considering the

premise. Aside from some brief glimpses of nudity--none involving star Russell--the film has little sexual exploitation, and the violence isn't too bloody. Calhoun, Tyrrell, and Porter reprise their roles from the original film and are just as effective here as they were in it.



Molly Stewart (Betsy Russell) used to be a teenage prostitute known as Angel, but those days have been put behind her as she is now a successful law student, though she is still in contact with the cop who helped her off the streets, Lieutenant Andrews (Robert F. Lyons). Unfortunately, their chummy relationship is about to end, because one night he is rushing to the home of an undercover policewoman who is preparing to go to work, knowing that her cover has been blown. Alas, he is too late and just in time to catch the gangsters as they run out of her house, having killed her and her parents - and then they take shots at Andrews...

The original Angel film had been quite a hit for New World, so it was only reasonable that a sequel should be ordered up, with the same man, Robert Vincent O'Neill, behind the thrills. Or that was the idea, yet while the first one was no classic it at least supplied some decent exploitation sequences, but here Avenging Angel looked more like a feature-length episode of a television series with a spot of nudity and swearing added. Donna Wilkes was absent in this one, and in her place was eighties pin-up Betsy Russell, who similarly did not take her clothes off.

Although what clothes she does don are very small, because she has settled on going undercover to track down Andrews' murderers, but just because she is dressing like a prostitute doesn't mean she is turning tricks. In fact, there's absolutely no reason for posing as she does with the plot failing to offer any situations where such a guise might come in handy, but she does get the chance to meet up with some old friends, that is, the actors willing to return from the first instalment. So Susan Tyrrell is back as foul-mouthed Solly, but now she is looking after a baby (not hers).

That infant will become very important to the finale, but is this what viewers of Avenging Angel wanted to see, the cast cooing over babies? Surely they wanted the laughs and sleaze from before, but nope, they got to sit through such scenes as Rory Calhoun's gungslinging Kit Carson liberated from an old folks' home in a heartwarming fashion, complete with getaway in a pet cemetery hearse which makes comedy noises. But what of the villains, surely they're a threatening bunch? Well, they're a coterie of real estate developers who want to force Molly's friends from their homes. And they have guns.

Those gangsters are intent on killing the only witness to Andrews' death, a supposedly cutesy but in effect highly resistable chap called Johnny Glitter (Barry Pearl) who dresses like an extra from The Wiz and sprinkles, well, glitter around, complete with the sound of little tinkling bells as he does so. With an artist's impression of the main bad guy which looks nothing like him (they don't even get his hair colour right), our intrepid heroes do find the evildoers, and bump off one of the head honchos in a hilarious slipping on the wet floor through a top storey window routine, but as this would be a mercifully short film if that were the end, there's still half an hour of plot to get through after that. Avenging Angel is decidedly mild for a film that showcases the action it does, but surprisingly it spawned more, even lesser, sequels. Music by Christopher Young.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


Wow, Molly Stewart, AKA former prostitute 'Angel', sure has changed in the three or four years since she quit hooking on the Boulevard: now played by Betsy Russell (replacing winsome Donna Wilkes, star of the first film), she's gained a couple of cup sizes, developed longer legs, sports an impressive perm, and is training to be a lawyer, thanks to the help of her guardian, Hollywood vice cop Lt. Andrews (Robert F. Lyons).

Molly's new life goes on hold, however, after Andrews is shot dead by gangsters; teaming up with her old pals, aging cowboy Kit Carson (Rory Calhoun) and lesbian landlady Solly Mosler (Susan Tyrell), she once again walks the sleazy sidewalks of Hollywood as Angel, this time looking for revenge.

For this cheesy sequel to his 1984 exploitation movie Angel, director Robert Vincent O'Neill throws any sense of realism in the nearest side-alley dumpster, opting instead for a much campier approach, his eccentric misfit characters even more exaggerated than before, his villains ridiculously reprehensible, and the violence about as cartoonish as it gets.

The film begins promisingly enough, with a car full of gangsters loading their weapons while heading downtown to 'off' a big-breasted undercover cop (who is busy taking a shower, natch!), a blaring Bronski Beat soundtrack giving everything that delightfully tacky 80s vibe. When the killers make their move, they blast their victims in the guts, resulting in some messy squib-work. Unfortunately, after this impressive opening, everything gets rather too comical for my liking (Rory Calhoun riding a gurney like a rodeo champ, as Angel and Solly bust him out of a sanitarium being the most cringe-worthy moment).

Still, even though Avenging Angel lacks the gritty edge that I generally look for in my vigilante/revenge flicks, and gets really, really dumb towards the end, the ever present sight of the delectable Miss Russell in a series of tight-as-you-like outfits, including a very sexy nurse get-up, makes the film just about bearable (no nudity from the star, but hey, I've always got her 1983 film Private School for that!).


:
Betsy Russell ...
Molly "Angel" Stewart
Rory Calhoun ...
Kit Carson
Susan Tyrrell ...
Solly Mosler
Ossie Davis ...
Captain Harry Moradian
Robert F. Lyons ...
Lt. Hugh Andrews
Steven M. Porter ...
Yo-Yo Charlie
Paul Lambert ...
Arthur Gerrard
Barry Pearl ...
Johnny Glitter
Estee Chandler ...
Cindy
Tim Rossovich ...
Teddy Butts
Frank Doubleday ...
Miles Gerrard
Howard Honig ...
Sergeant Hal Baylor
Ross Hagen ...
Ray Mitchell
Tracy Robert Austin ...
Pat
Michael A. Andrews ...
Mike
See full cast »
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Storyline

Molly, former baby prostitute "Angel" from Sunset Boulevard, has managed to leave her street life with help of Lt. Andrews. She studies law at an university and aims to become attorney. When she learns that Andrews was shot during a failed observation by brutal gangsters, she returns downtown to take revenge. She frees Kit Carson from the old people's home and together with the other old friends she tracks down the bad guys.

times

It can't be easy to run in an itty- bitty miniskirt and spike heels, especially when weighted down with junk jewelry. But Betsy Russell, who plays the title role in ''Avenging Angel,'' can manage this and talk a little, too. Though the role was originated, if that is the word, by Donna Wilkes in last year's ''Angel,'' Miss Russell makes about as much sense in it as anyone would. Angel, you may recall, was the high school honors student who spent her extracurricular hours as a Hollywood hooker.

Now, supposedly four years later, Miss Russell's Angel (a k a Molly) is seen studying law. But the slow-motion murder of her fatherly mentor - a police lieutenant who looks only a few years her senior - is enough to send her rushing to the closet, ready to fish the minis out of mothballs. Soon she is back on the streets, although not exactly back in business. Where Miss Russell is concerned, ''Avenging Angel'' is on the chaste side, which came as a big disappointment to most of the patrons of the RKO Warner Twin. It opened there and at neighborhood theaters yesterday.

The crowd may also have been mildly taken aback by the film's dopey humor, and by the cigar- chomping lesbian (Susan Tyrrell), ancient ex-cowboy actor (Rory Calhoun) and Haight-Ashbury holdover who function as Angel's cute sidekicks. The film, directed by Robert Vincent O'Neil, devotes more time to the various oddballs in Angel's immediate circle - which also includes two glamorous transvestites and a baby named Little Buck - than to the seamy world of prostitution. Every now and then Angel tries to rescue one of its victims, like the young girl from Omaha whom Angel guesses to be not a day over 13. Angel may have a good heart, but she's a lousy judge of age.

The most that ''Avenging Angel'' has to recommend it are costumes and sets that spell out everything, sometimes to comic effect. The wealthy villain, for instance, turns up in a silk dressing gown and sips from a flowery china teacup. Miss Tyrrell snorts a lot and really does give the impression of wearing army boots. And Miss Russell appears in outfits that are the ultimate in tartiness, though somehow they backfire. Even at her most street-wise, she manages to suggest a modern-day, modelly version of Little Bo Peep.

The Cast

AVENGING ANGEL, directed by Robert Vincent O'Neil; written by Mr. O'Neil and Joseph M. Cala; director of photography, Peter Lyons Collister; music by Chris Young; produced by Sandy Howard/Keith Rubinstein; released by New World Pictures. At Warner Twin, Broadway and 47th Street; Olympia, Broadway and 107th Street and other theaters. Running time: 92 minutes. This film is rated R. WITH: Betsy Russell, Rory Calhoun, Robert F. Lyons, Ossie Davis, Susan Tyrrell