Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Made for television at the onset of the American public's stranger-danger panic, "Fallen Angel" has matured into a darkly-hued hilarious camp piece over the span of its 30 year life. Mixing elements of "The Bad News Bears" with Paul Schrader's "Hardcore," the movie is exceptionally creepy despite being tame enough to meet the restrictions of its format. Dana Hill, best recognized for assuming the role of Audrey Griswold in "National Lampoon's European Vacation," plays Jennifer Philips, a young girl on the thresh hold of burgeoning womanhood who has recently lost her father. Meanwhile, kiddie porn talent scout Howard Nichols (Richard Masur) is under the gun to replace one of their stars who's falling apart at the seams. Still grieving, Jennifer is reluctant to accept the new man in her mother's life, and soon rising tensions at home are pushing her out into the street and into the assuring arms of good old Howie, who is also the coach of an all girl's softball team. At first Howard merely panders to her insecurities through flattery, but he soon works up to Orange Crush & Quaalude cocktail fueled woodland fuckfests with other teens in no time. Eventually, the cat gets out of the bag, Jennifer runs away out of shame, but is quickly tracked down by her mother, who confronts Howard for all the evil he has done.

The cast is rock solid, also featuring Ronny Cox as the pending step dad, while mom is played by Melinda Dillon ("Close Encounters of the Third Kind," and "A Christmas Story"). Dana Hill is impressive through every bit of the film, demonstrating a remarkable battery of facial expressions you rarely see in a performer her age. Unfortunately, puberty stomped out any evidence of her adorableness by '85. Richard Masur's performance as the manipulative coach Howie Nichols is undoubtedly the best thing about the movie. Howie is both sweet and seedy, but manages to avoid an over the top performance despite the fact that his lines are a rich lunch of double entendres. At one point, when meeting Jennifer's parents after a losing soft ball game, he puts his arm around her, and says, "don't worry, we'll work on her grip next week."

This Columbia Pictures Home Video release can be a little on the pricier side, but for fans of camp and the unintentionally hilarious, this is a worthy addition to your collection that will have no problem getting over at parties.

"Poor Michelle will never be the same."

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