Review: DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT (1994)
I recently picked up Full Moon’s 1994 cult film Dark Angel: The Ascent on Blu Ray. Originally released directly to video it’s now available as a restored print. 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 (Angela Featherstone, Soul Survivors, My Dead Boyfriend) deciding to visit the world of man. 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 (Heros). Along the way, she loses her horns and wings and her pet becomes a German Sheppard. Of course, she emerges naked.
Falling for Max (Daniel Markel), the young doctor who treats her. She 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. She goes around brutally killing evildoers and feeding their hearts to her dog. As she comes into conflict with the corrupt Mayor Wharton (Milton James, Enter The Void, the voice of Baal in Diablo II) can she triumph and keep her secrets hidden from Max?
As you can tell from the description, Dark Angel: The Ascent is an odd film. Its mix of ideas and approaches are both its 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. However, it’s explained off in an interesting way that I won’t spoil though I will say some cheesy effects are involved.
The comic book plot, (I was put in mind of Marvel’s 70s superhero Son of Satan), would seem more suitable for a PG or PG-13 film. Dark Angel: The Ascent, however, has a fair amount of nudity and fairly graphic violence. A spine is ripped out and we see 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.
Dark Angel: The Ascent was obviously meant to be the start of a franchise. I’m surprised there weren’t any sequels. It had all the elements of a weekend beer and movie champion. Now in a cleaned-up print remastered in 16 x 9 Widescreen and 5.1 Surround digitally restored from the original 35mm camera negative. It 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. And it’s so much better than Full Moon’s current output such as Evil Bong 777.