Originally released direct to video in 1994 Full Moon’s cult film Dark Angel: The Ascent is making it’s Blu ray debut via a restored print on September 15th. Is it a worthy addition to your collection or just another oddity from Full Moon’s Romanian era?
The plot sees rebellious young demoness Veronica deciding to visit the world of man. Since Hell, (which looks like a medieval torture chamber), is located in the center of the Earth she merely needs to take a secret passage up to our world and emerge from a manhole along with her pet Hellhound named Hellraiser. Along the way she loses her horns and wings and her pet becomes a German Sheppard. And of course she emerges naked. Falling for Max, the young doctor who treats her and uses a little magic to make sure the feelings are mutual. Realizing there’s as much evil up here as there is down there she becomes a vigilante, brutally killing evildoers and feeding their hearts to her dog. But, as she comes into conflict with the city’s corrupt mayor can she triumph and keep her secrets hidden from Max?
As you can tell from the description, this is an odd film, with a mix of ideas and approaches are both it’s most interesting feature and, at times its biggest liability. We have horror, vigilante action and romance all mixed into a weird stew. The idea of a resident of Hell fighting evil takes a good deal of suspension of disbelief, (I was actually put in mind of Marvel’s 70’s superhero Son of Satan). It’s explained off in an interesting way that I won’t spoil though I will say some cheesy effects are involved.
And despite the comic book plot that would seem more suitable for a PG or PG-13 film, Dark Angel has a fair amount of nudity and fairly graphic violence including a spine being ripped out and Hellraiser dining on someone’s heart. The effects are well done and will certainly appeal to those of us who miss the era of practical effects.
While most of the cast is composed of unknowns there are a couple of faces that should be familiar Angela Featherstone as Veronica was at the start of her career, (although she’d had an uncredited part in Army of Darkness). She’s stunningly beautiful here with or without clothes and has gone on to a long and successful run in the industry. Also noticeable is the late Nicholas Worth who appeared in many genre films, most notably as the psycho in Don’t Answer the Phone.
This was obviously meant to be the start of a franchise and I’m surprised there weren’t any sequels, it had all the elements of a weekend beer and movie champion. Seeing it again now in a cleaned up print remastered in 16 x 9 Widescreen and 5.1 Surround, digitally restored from the original 35mm camera negative isn’t quite the same as watching it on VHS back in the day, but it’s still a fun flashback to the good old days.