We here at Horror Bound are big fans of horror. Duh. We are also big believers that any fun loving cinephile ought to be. Some people find it hard to get past their fears and some are overwhelmed at the sheer volume of horror out there. Including indie horror, which is wonderful, dozens of genre flicks come out every month. So, where does one start?
Well, we got you covered. This recurring article will be dolling out the 100 essential flicks from horror and will give you a heaping tablespoon of the various eras and sub genres. It also just so happens that this list was created by the great minds behind the Shock Waves podcast, including Charlotte’s adoptive mother, Rebekah McKendry, so it’s basically a family list.
These are not ranked, but, rather, in alphabetical order. Today we head to the haunted New Orleans to visit the devil in Angel Heart.
I gotta say, this is the first one on the list that I’m a bit surprised by. It’s certainly not that it’s a bad movie or anything, just that it’s not commonly talked about. That’s great, though, as that’s a big part of the fun of lists like this, discovering flicks that would otherwise be off your radar. That certainly applies to Angel Heart.
How this movie isn’t better known is beyond me, but partially that is because of how and when it came out. Boy, do we all wish we had a time machine and could go back and treat Lisa Bonet properly. Bonet was a huge star on The Cosby Show, but started making news for clashing with Bill Cosby. She was big enough to get offered a spin-off show because the show couldn’t afford to lose her. She started telling the press how inappropriate and awful Cosby was.
America reacted by calling her a diva and maligning her. Then she comes out with Angel Heart, a very dark movie involving Satan and several very rough sex scenes. During the prudish time of satanic panic in the mid to late 80’s, this just didn’t sit well. The movie tanked and she was treated horribly in the press. Her career never recovered. Now that we know she was right and Cosby is a verified goddamn monster, it’s time to make things right.
It’s a tiny step, but I suppose a good one would be seeing Angel Heart and get it back into the collective conscious. 1987’s Angel Heart is a dark, twisted thriller about a down-and-out private investigator who takes on a job for a man named Lou Cypher. He soon figures out that not only is Lou Cypher a thinly veiled pen name for Lucifer, but the dude is the actual devil. Like many who came before him, our protagonist learns that shit gets pretty damn complicated and not in a good way.
This movie is dark as hell and Robert DeNiro just might have given the world the best portrayal of Satan ever. This movie doesn’t get bogged down in an over reliance on mythology and imagery. Instead it somehow makes these otherworldly subjects seem grounded and realistic. DeNiro wears a ring, for example, with a pentacle on it, but you wouldn’t even catch that if you weren’t looking. He is somehow able to make the most innocuous actions, like eating an egg, seem threatening and foreboding. At the end of the day, his performance is really what makes the movie worthwhile.
While DeNiro’s devil may be the marquis star, the rest of the filmmaking on display is also really great. Alan Parker’s direction is tight and just as weird as normal. He’s the fella who brought the world Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Midnight Express after all. Here he continues his love of dark, odd tales and it fits perfectly. The production design by Brian Morris (Pirates of the Caribbean) and the cinematography by Michael Seresin (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) both help pull off a rich, textured, dark world.
In the end, this movie is heavy and will stick with you. It is full of a rich darkness that few have matched. If you watch if just for the DeNiro devil, that’s fine, you won’t be disappointed.