• Night Angel

    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: October 24th, 2017.
    Director: Dominique Othenin-Girard
    Cast: Isa Jank, Linden Ashby, Debra Feuer, Doug Jones, Karen Black
    Year: 1990
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    The Movie:

    When the moon is set to begin its cycle, the demonic Lilith (Isa Jank) is reborn in the form of a beautiful, curvaceous woman who apparently hungers for human flesh. To satiate her bloodlust, she wins over Mr. Crenshaw (Sam Hennings), the publisher of a fancy fashion magazine named Siren. When she asks that he put her on the cover of the next issue and he declines this request, she not only kills him, but his wife and daughter as well.

    The next day, things are more than a little somber at the office but at the request of editor Rita (Karen Black), the show most go on. Literally. They've all got to put on their game faces and attend a party being held to bring together the investors needed to expand the magazine's readership into international territory. That same day, Lilith appears and puts pretty much everyone under her sexy spell, everyone that is except for Craig (Linden Ashby), the art director who only has eyes for Rita's pretty blonde sister Kirstie (Debra Feuer). Things get tense when manager Rod (Gary Hudson) gets into a spat with the mailroom's Ken (Doug Jones) over the mysterious bombshell that's working her black magic across the office, and before you know it the two of them are dead too. That's not stopping Lilith from getting what she wants though, she even goes so far as to seduce Rita in order to get that coveted cover spot. While Craig and Kirstie seem immune to Lilith's spell it seems she's got complete control over the rest of the company. Thankfully there's a potentially crazy cab driver named Sadie (Helen Martin) who is also able to see this harpy for what she really is! But Lilith being a creature of evil, won't rest until she's got Craig under her spell too. If that means taking everyone on a one way trip to Hell, so be it!

    Written by Joe Augustyn, the man behind the first two Night Of The Demons movies (it's no coincidence then that Night Angel shares some similarities with the first movie in that franchise), this one is a bit of a mess from a storytelling standpoint. We understand why things are happening, but not always how. Granted, the supernatural angle to this goes a long way towards explaining things but let it suffice to say that logic is not Night Angel's strong point. Thankfully, the visuals are. This is an insanely stylish movie, and while much of that style absolutely reeks to high heaven of late eighties fashion excess and music video aesthetics, that doesn't take away from what works. In fact, it just adds a surreal layer to an already very strange picture.

    The film also benefits from an interesting cast. Karen Black is a lot of fun here, if slightly underused, and it's interesting to see a young Doug Jones in a prominent role, long before Guillermo Del Toro would work with him so extensively on many of his picture. Linden Ashby isn't the world's most compelling leading man but he does alright in the part. Debra Feuer is also fine. She's pretty, she has a bit of charisma, and she's likeable enough that we want to see she and Ashby's Craig make it out of this strange mess alive. The real star of the show, however, is Isa Jank. The German model turned actress oozes sex appeal and has really strong screen presence in this picture. Granted, this might not be the most dramatically challenging role but she's got exactly the right sort of look and sexy/evil vibe to pull it off. This was really her only North American starring role. She had bit parts in a few films and appeared on an episode of Cheers of all things, but after she wrapped on Night Angel she went back to her native Germany where she's since had a fairly extensive career in film and television.


    Night Angel is presented on Blu-ray in 1.85.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer on a 25GB disc. For the most part, the transfer is pretty solid. There's some noticeable print damage during the opening credits and the odd speck here and there afterwards but for the most part the image is pretty clean. Detail is solid, stronger in some scenes than others but always more than acceptable, while texture and depth certainly advance over what DVD would have been able to provide. The image is free of any obvious compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction and as such, we have a pretty film-like picture.

    An English language DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo track is pretty solid. No issues here. The track is clean and nicely balanced offering up dialogue that is perfectly easy to understand. Hiss and distortion are non-issues, and there's a fair amount of depth and range to the track. There are no subtitles of any kind provided on this release.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary featuring director Dominique Othenin-Girard and moderator/filmmaker Heather Buckley. Here Othenin-Girard talks about how he wound up in Los Angeles after marrying an American woman and then how that eventually turned into the directing job on this movie. From there, we learn how his landlord played a role in how the movie turned out as well as Paul Verhoeven. As the talk continues we learn about Othenin-Girard's thoughts on the film, on the genre in general, on the effects set pieces and some of the picture's stronger content and more. A second audio commentary gets Paul Corupe of Canuxploitation.com and film historian Jason Pichonsky together to dissect the film. This track is a bit more of a critical analysis piece than anything else, though the pair does offer up some trivia and what not along the way. The talk about the folk lore influences that worked their way into the picture, what works and what doesn't and what Othenin-Girard got up to before and after this project. The first track is the better of the two, though the second one has its moments even if it does take a while to hit a proper stride.

    From there we move on to an assortment of featurettes, the first of which is a twenty-minute chat with actress Isa Jank. Here she speaks quite frankly about her modelling career in New York City and how that led to the opportunity to appear in this picture as the film's sultry female lead. She offers up her thoughts on the movie, the director, her co-stars and the heavy makeup work that was done to get her into character. Up next is a thirteen minute interview with screenwriter Joe Augustyn. His take on the making of the film is less than glowing, he talks about how stressful it was for him, but he also notes differences between the version that was filmed compared to his original script. A third interview gets makeup effects designer and creator Steve Johnson in front of the camera for ten minutes to talk about his work on the picture. He's not always kind to the quality of the film itself but he tells some interesting stories about his behind the scenes work on the picture and how it impacted his later career. Kino has also dug up thirty-seven minutes' worth of Night Angel Tests. This is, as it sounds, a bunch of random test footage shot while the movie was in production and it's interesting enough that those who enjoy seeing how practical effects are accomplished (and how they often differ from what we see on the screen) should appreciate its inclusion.

    Closing out the extras department are three minutes of Head Erosion Tests, a minute and a half of Chest Grab Tests, an animated gallery of behind the scenes images, a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Some nice reversible cover art has also been supplied for this release.

    The Final Word:

    Night Angel is a bit of a disaster but it's a fairly fascinating, watchable disaster and that counts for something. If the story is a mess, it's a nice showcase for some impressive effects work, a few interesting performances and plenty of strangely sleazy set pieces. Kino's Blu-ray presents the film in nice shape and with more extras than anyone in their right mind could have realistically hoped for. Recommended with the caveat that the movie itself is what it is… a wonderfully bizarre mess of a picture.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!