Friday, September 5, 2008

Angel III: The Final Chapter (Tom DeSimone, 1988)

The least talked about entry in the teen prostitution saga, Angel III: The Final Chapter seems miles away from the unsavoury sidewalks of Hollywood featured in the first two films. That might be because it starts off in New York City, where Molly "Angel" Stewart" now works as a freelance photographer. However, I think it has more to do with the fact that 1984 and 1988 are two totally different animals when it comes to "Living in the '80s." You see, the eighties can be broken down into two separate, yet equally important groups: The early '80s and the late '80s. The former was awash with creativity and avant-garde ideas, while the latter was a semi-bloated corpse yearning to remain relevant. For example, instead of going out and buying colourful bracelets at the mall and having irregular sex with Rick James, people in the late '80s seemed content to lie on their chesterfields watching individual beads of sweat struggling to outwit the mighty grip of Paula Abdul's world class thighs on their once state-of-the-art televisions. And if you ask me, that's a huge difference. Now, don't get me wrong, the latter half of the decade did contribute a fair amount of enchantment to the cinematic landscape (Teen Witch, Heathers, Killer Klowns from Outer Space), but Angel III: The Final Chapter isn't quite in the same league as those flicks.

The series has been completely overhauled and retains hardly any of the charm of the first two films. For starters, Angel creator Frank Vincent O'Neill has been replaced by Tom DeSimone (Reform School Girls), a man who definitely knows his way around a bag of sleaze. Yet, this guy just doesn't have the same visual flair as O'Neill. I mean, Los Angeles looks so drab and boring in this chapter. And jettisoning all the colourful characters that made the first two films such a pleasure to wallow in was an unfortunate turn of events.

I do, however, have to commend Mr. DeSimone for devising a plot that contains sexual slavery, cocaine distribution, x-rated cinema, and an ice cream truck. Oh, and not to mention, thank him for filling the screen with a cavalcade of naked breasts.

Anyway, the actual plot, and there is one, involves Angel being forced back onto the mean streets of Hollywood when she learns that her long lost sister Michelle (Tawny Fere from Rockula) has gotten mixed up with a distasteful throng of slave traders lead by a pimping visionary played by Maud "Octopussy" Adams.

Saddled with unenviable task of replacing Betsy Russell is the wonderfully named Mitzi Kapture. (Her kooky handle sounds like the working title of my unpublished guide to stalking bubbleheaded coeds.) Yeah, well, Mitzi does a competent job of filling out Angel's hooker wear. Despite the fact she doesn't really get to whore it up beyond humiliating a pimp and stealing his car.

On the other hand, I did enjoy the parts where she worked as a porno extra. The friendship/bond she forms with the other actresses was on the cusp of being fascinating, as it produced some insight into hopelessness some women must go through when they find themselves trapped in the unending shame spiral that is sexual exploitation.

Unfortunately, the romantic relationship Angel forms with a non-pornographic film editor played by Kin Shriner (General Hospital) was pretty much a dead on arrival.

The immensely talented Mark Blankfield (Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again) tries his best to imbue the proceedings with some playfulness as Angel's flamboyant, Disraeli-quoting friend, Spanky. But he can't quite match the get-up-and-go wackiness of Susan Tyrrell and Rory Calhoun (whose presence is sorely missed in this chapter).

The legendary Richard Roundtree (Shaft), the sensational Toni Basil (Rockula), cult actress extraordinaire Laura Albert (Mrs. Van Houten from Dr. Caligari) and the ubiquitous Dick Miller (A Bucket of Blood) are also in the film, but with the exception of Mr. Roundtree, their parts aren't much to brag about in terms of screen time. Which is shame, because when I saw Toni Basil appear onscreen looking all fabulous and junk, I figured she was gonna be Angel's new sidekick -- you know, ala Susan Tyrrell's Solly Mosler from the original film. But sadly, that never materialized.

Apparently there is an Angel 4 (Angel 4: Undercover) out there somewhere that stars the very blonde Darlene Vogel and a no doubt bewildered Roddy McDowell. But since I have heard nothing but negative things about it, I've decided to skip it, for now. Which is kinda a relief, because it doesn't seem to be commercially available (you know, other than used VHS copies on Amazon).

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