Angel Heart Review

Angel Heart Blu-ray

Alan Parker is one of my favorite film directors. Unlike most directors who are often great in their own ways, Parker is an artist. I don’t think it is any surprise that he directed two of the best filmed musicals ever: Pink Floyd—The Wall and Evita. And that’s not even counting Fame and The Commitments, which are kind of musicals. He has a stunning visual style that somehow manages not to call attention to itself like Martin Scorsese’s (with all due respect).

Despite the fact that he has made so many wonderful films (eg Midnight Express), my favorite Parker film is Angel Heart (1987). It is based on William Hjortsberg’s novel Falling Angel, which so brilliantly blended the detective story with the occult.

And the whole film is so well executed with his usual editor (Gerry Hambling), cameraman (Mike Roberts), cinematographer (Michael Seresin), and production designer (Brian Morris). There’s also Trevor Jones doing the score and Louis Falco choreographing the amazing voodoo scene.

Angel Heart is the kind of film you want to watch every few years. It’s one of the best.

Angel Heart - Harry Angel at the Diner


If you haven’t seen Angel Heart and you would like to, don’t read the synopsis. It’s a fascinating mystery with a great ending. It’s good to see it cold — especially since it is a film that is worth watching many times.

Angel Heart is Pyschotronic

Below, I discuss this film seriously. But none of that really matters. Angel Heart is a wonderful mystery with great Satanic elements. Much of the beginning of it is spooky with loads of creepy added for color. And the second half of it is ghoulishly bloody.

It’s also filled with loads of wonderfully bent characters. Everyone in the film is afraid. And it isn’t clear what’s up with them until the end. The acting is also exceptional with lots of regional performers. One of them (Pruitt Taylor Vince) went on to be be a major character actor in Hollywood.

Angel Heart - Harry Angel's Dream

Angel Heart Is an Important Film

Parker is well known to me as providing director commentaries during which he says very little. He gets involved in watching the film and says nothing for long periods of time. And he’s aware of this because he even mentions it from time to time. He even concludes that it is okay that he isn’t saying anything. For the record: no it isn’t. But his commentaries are still rather good because what he does say is interesting.

On one of his commentary track — for Mississippi Burning, I believe — he said that he had shown Angel Heart to his mentor. I don’t currently own the DVD, so I can’t say who it was. But the mentor did not like the film. He claimed that being able to make a film was such a great opportunity that one should only use it to make important films.

I don’t know if this is what caused Parker to go on to make Mississippi Burning or The Life of David Gale or other later films of varying quality. But his mentor was wrong—profoundly wrong. Angel Heart is probably the most serious and important film that Parker ever made.

Let’s Get Ontological

This is my opinion, of course. It is the result of my interest in ontological questions. If you haven’t seen the film, you should skip my discussion until you do. But if you have, read on!

Get Angel Heart

Angel Heart has been released on disc a few different times and in general, they’ve been good.

There are two primary releases for Americans and others who need a Region A/1 disc. They are both from Lions Gate, but they are slightly different.

Angel Heart - Harry Angel Meets Louis Cyphre in a Church


This disc was released in 2009. It is 1080p with DTS-HD 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. The disc is region free so you can play it regardless of where you are. But there are potentially better options if you are outside A/1.

It also includes a French audio track. There are English and Spanish subtitles.

The extras on the disc are old but good:

  • Feature commentary with Alan Parker from 2001 where he provides some insights but spends most of the time not talking.
  • Interview (8 minutes) with Parker where he says the same things he said in the commentary.
  • Interview (14 minutes) with Mickey Rourke where he mostly talks about how he didn’t work that hard on the job, which may explain why it’s the best thing he’s done.
  • Second interview (22 minutes) with Rourke where he discusses his professional life.

This seems to have been re-released in 2015 along with a Digital HD copy. But I’m not certain, so don’t blame me. But it was also released by Lions Gate.


This 2004 Lions Gate DVD is a good release, but it comes as 4SIF(525), which is 704 by 480 pixels. This is not necessarily a problem given that a bit of grain can heighten the experience.

The audio is the same: two English tracks. It comes with English and Spanish subtitles.

Strangely, this release comes with more extras than the later Blu-ray. In addition to all that come with the Blu-ray, it includes:

  • Introduction (1 minute) by Alan Parker
  • Voodoo … The Truth (57 minutes): a five-part documentary about Voodoo as a religion. The main take away: these are pretty normal people.
  • Creating the Look (2 minutes): an old promotion short that includes some of on-set interviews with Parker.
  • Choreographing a Voodoo Ritual (2 minutes): an old promotion short that focuses on Falco.
  • Featurette (5 minutes): interview on set with Parker.
  • Lisa Bonet Featurette (4 minutes)
  • Alan Parker Featurette (3 minutes)
  • Lisa Bonet Interview (2 minutes)
  • Godsend trailer
  • The Punisher trailer.

4K Blu-ray

If you can play Region B/2 Blu-rays, there is a 4K version that has received excellent reviews for its video and sound quality. It seems to include the same audio tracks as the Blu-ray with the addition of a German track. But apparently the quality is improved.

It has the same extras as on the 2004 DVD release.

Blu-ray image taken from Amazon under Fair Use. Images from film taken from the DVD release under Fair Use.

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