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directed by Alan Parker
USA 1987

While suffering from obvious banalities, as calling the Devil for Louis Cyphre (an alias for Lucipher) and the corny revelation scene towards the end, “Angel Heart” is nevertheless a great film. Based on the novel “Fallen Angels” by William Hjortsberg (who also wrote the story for Scott’s ”Legend”), the story is as taken out of any pulp detective novel.

 

Harry Angel is a drunken low-rate detective, who is assigned by the eccentric Louis Cyphre to locate a once famous crooner by the name of Johnny Favourite. Doing so, he enters a world of voodoo, witchcraft and mysticism, where he will find more than he bargained for.

 

Mirroring the plot of Orson Welles’ “Mr. Arkadin” - where Mr. Arkadin employs Stratton to investigated his past, as Mr. Arkadin claims to be suffering from amnesia, so does Cyphre employ Angel to investigate Favourite’s past; and Angel is also suffering from amnesia. And, as in “Mr. Arkadin”, those of importance along his way are befallen by death. - “Angel Heart” is a strange blend of pulp detective story, giallo and horror. One would not credit Angel with neither intelligence nor detective skills, but he is in fact quiet an observant detective - the sequence with the ball-point pen reference still impresses me. It is also pretty obvious for most viewers that Louis Cyphre is the Devil. But why would the Devil ask someone to track a person down? The answer to that question is what is beneath the surface of the story and is what makes “Angel Heart” such a great film.

 

Sharing the same intelligence in approaching the supernatural as the films by Lewton - in respect by Tourneur and Robson - “Angel Heart” is one of the few films demonstrating, that Horror is more than just a simple “boo”. As Angel investigates Favourite, he is drawn more and more into a world of sorcery and demons, until, at the end of his journey, realizing that he and Favourite is the same person, breaks down, sobbing, desperately clinging to this identity, not realizing that he has lost not only his sanity, but also his soul.

Henrik Sylow

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 6th, 1987

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Comparison:

Lionsgate (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Momentum (SE) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Lionsgate (US) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Enrique B Chamorro and Henrik Sylow for all the DVD Screen Caps!

1) Lionsgate (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Momentum (SE) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Lionsgate (US) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

DVD Box Covers

   

   

   

Distribution

Lionsgate

Region 1 - NTSC

Momentum
Region 2 - PAL

Lions Gate

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:52:00 1:48:00 (4% PAL speedup) 1:52:59.606
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.78 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.26 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P / 23.976 fps Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,501,098,242 bytes

Feature: 20,954,757,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Lionsgate (SE)

 

Bitrate:

 

Momentum (SE)

 

Bitrate:

 

Blu-ray

 

Audio English DD 5.1 & 2.0

English, German, Spanish, French 2.0

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3810 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3810 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround
DUB: Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround
Subtitles English, Spanish, None English, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish, None English, Spanish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Lionsgate

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Animated menus in English
• Accurate English Subtitles
• 4 page insert
• Audio commentary by Alan Parker (same as Momentum)
• New interview with Parker 8:10
• New interview with Rourke 21:41
• Rourke commentary over 14 min. of film clips
• Voduun Truths: A collection of five new doc. on the facts, history and beliefs of Voodoo 57:20
• Godsend & Punisher Trailers
• Original behind-the-scenes featurettes (Creating the look & Choreographing a Vodoo Ritual)
• Original promo interview clips (Bonet & Parker)
• Original Interview with Alan Parker 5:08


DVD Release Date: 05/18/04
Plastic Keepcase

Chapters 23
 

Release Information:
Studio: Momentum

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Moody animated menus in 4 languages
• Summarized English Subtitles
• First release included 56 page prod. diary
• Theatrical Trailer (Fullframe) 2:34
• Photo Gallery with 22 photos
• Behind the Scenes 1:31
• Interview with Alan Parker (with Eng. Sub.) 5:01
• Mickey Rourke promo clip (with Eng. Sub.) 3:29
• Lisa Bonet promo clip (with Eng. Sub.) 3:34
• Alan Parker promo clip (with Eng. Sub.) 3:06
• Reality of Voodoo promo (with Eng. Sub.) 2:37
• Creating the look promo (with Eng. Sub.) 2:06
• Choreographing a Voodoo Ritual (with Eng. Sub.) 2:01
• Commentary track by Alan Parker

 

DVD Release Date: 12/27/00
Plastic Keepcase

Chapters 20

Release Information:
Studio: Lionsgate

 

1080P / 23.976 fps Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,501,098,242 bytes

Feature: 20,954,757,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by Alan Parker

• Rourke commentary over 14 min. of film clips (14:08)
• New interview with Parker 8:10
• New interview with Rourke 21:41
• Trailer

Blu-ray Release Date: November 24th, 2009
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 23

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: LionsGate (US) - Region FREE Blu-ray - November 09: Firstly - although we have linked to the UK edition from Lionsgate (above and below) - it differs from this, the US, one in that it has no extras - where this does (see comments).

The new LionsGate Blu-ray from the US supports a superior looking transfer from either of the DVDs, but the single-layered 1080P AVC rendering doesn't always look stellar. In many scenes, especially the darker ones, the Blu-ray advances reasonably well - but while it transported some of the noise from SD into textured grain - it still exports some digital noise itself. Detail is better and colors tighten up with the bitrate advancing 3-4 times higher. The US Blu-ray shows even more information in the frame on all 4 edges and it is 1.85 not 1.78.

Audio may have a bit more to offer in terms of upgrade with a healthy DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3810 kbps. There are some explosive affect sounds and great jazzy-blues music in the track that comes across as very soulfully crisp. Angel Heart is a lot of mood and this Blu-ray audio transfer is the first time that it came across as demonstratively impacting on the spooky 'Nawlins aura.

Supplements give us all of the good stuff from the 2004 LionsGate SE package with the Parker commentary and Rourke quasi-one - including interviews with both men. We also get a trailer - nothing is in HD.

This has always been a curious film - and I can definitely state that the mood is far more "influencing" for this reviewer seeing it in the improved A/V. I don't know that Angel Heart is a great film - but it's intent is far better realized with this Blu-ray. For those on the fence about it - you should probably give it a spin in the new format - you may be pleasantly surprised by your reaction. The current price is... excellent.     

***

ON THE DVDs: The Momentum SE is matted to 1.85:1, vs. the 1.78:1 AR of Lion Gate, and is also slightly squeezed. The Momentum is cropped on the top and left edge quite extensively. It is also curious, that the Momentum SE is so hazy, it is dark and skin tones appear overly red. The Momentum tends to look saturated beside the Lionsgate which is sharper and also has better subtitles. The Momentum does have a long list of Extras but is eclipsed by the Lionsgate Extras and commentary. The Momentum menus are very beautiful. Overall, the new Lionsgate SE is the definitive edition right now.

The Lionsgate DVD may have a menu error, the "Original Featurette" (title 21) is the same original Alan Parker Interview (title 24), both running 5:08 .
Original promotional material missing on the Lionsgate is the Theatrical Trailer, Mickey Rourke promo clip, & Behind the Scenes (minor items).

 - Gary Tooze

 


DVD Menus

(Lionsgate (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Momentum (SE) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 

Lionsgate (US) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Lionsgate (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (SE) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Lionsgate (US) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 


Screen Captures

1) Lionsgate (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (SE) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Lionsgate (US) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Lionsgate (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (SE) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Lionsgate (US) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Lionsgate (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (SE) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Lionsgate (US) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) Lionsgate (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (SE) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Lionsgate (US) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Lionsgate (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Momentum (SE) - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Lionsgate (US) - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures


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Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Lionsgate
Menu: Blu-ray
DVD Box Covers

   

   

   

Distribution

Lionsgate

Region 1 - NTSC

Momentum
Region 2 - PAL

Lions Gate

Region FREE - Blu-ray

 



 

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...