The Movie Waffler Blu-Ray Review - DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT (1994) | The Movie Waffler

Blu-Ray Review - DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT (1994)

A demoness from hell hunts down wrongdoers in our world.

Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Linda Hassani

Starring: Angela Featherstone, Daniel Markel, Nicholas Worth, Charlotte Stewart

In several respects, Dark Angel: The Ascent is quite ahead of its time, and with its immigrant obsessed politician and racist cops, it's arguably more prescient in 2016 than 1994.

Full Moon Features continue plundering their '90s back catalogue with this crisp hi-def transfer of Dark Angel: The Ascent, another offering from the cult production company's Romanian period.

The movie opens with a pretty inventive take on how hell might operate, portrayed here as a bureaucratic processing plant. Tired of the tedium of the hot spot, young demoness Veronica (Angela Featherstone) longs to escape and visit the world above. When a friend reveals a secret entrance to our world, Veronica flees her family and arrives in an unnamed Romanian, er, sorry...American city via a manhole cover, her demon's wings and horns disappearing (along with her clothes, as this is a '90s Full Moon production), allowing her to walk among us, accompanied by her dog, Hellraiser, who might be the least threatening hound to appear on screen since Columbo's unnamed Basset.

Veronica gets a rough introduction to big city life when she is hit by a car. Waking in a hospital in the care of dreamy-eyed doctor Max Barris (Daniel Markel), Veronica uses some minor mind control to convince the doc to take her back to his place to recuperate in less public surroundings.

In a gender reversed riff on An American Werewolf in London, while Max is tending to his patients on the night shift, Veronica sets about dealing deadly justice to 'sinners', disembowelling rapists and bumping off racist cops, setting her sights on the man she considers the biggest sinner of all, the city's mayor, who enjoys hounding immigrants and ethnic minorities (sound familiar?).

By the '90s, the exploitation genre had largely lost its mojo, as too many opportunist filmmakers gave up trying to entertain and focussed on delivering a cynical mix of blood and boobs, but with a script by Matthew Bright, who found brief cult fame with 1996's Reese Witherspoon vehicle FreewayDark Angel: The Ascent has a little more to it. There's a fun, campy element to the movie, with cute gags like Veronica's giant feet, and there are some genuinely clever touches, such as Doctor Max hearing the yells of tortured souls when he holds his stethoscope to Veronica's chest.

In several respects, Dark Angel: The Ascent is quite ahead of its time, which may explain why it failed to register with me during my days scouring video stores in the '90s. It prefigures the trend for movies featuring hot female aliens on murderous rampages that kicked off with the release of 1995's Species, and with its immigrant obsessed politician and racist cops, it's arguably more prescient in 2016 than 1994.

Featherstone is quite the presence here, and making the male lead the romantic trophy is quite the novelty for a movie of this period (the film is directed by a woman, Linda Hassani, another rarity for '90s genre productions). As with all Full Moon productions of this era, it's visually impressive given its budget, thanks to the work of a highly skilled Romanian crew. Unfortunately, it peters out in its final act and climaxes in an all too rushed and highly unsatisfactory manner, but there's enough here to satisfy devotees of late era exploitation.

Dark Angel: The Ascent is on blu-ray September 15th from Full Moon.