Back in the 80’s, you always knew you were in for something unique when you saw that logo for New World Pictures. The company started by Roger Corman had a unique batch of films during my teenage years, and they were quick to jump on any opportunity to do a sequel to one of their films. When they had a minor success with 1984’s Angel, they quickly went into production on a sequel. They ended up releasing it just a few days before the one year anniversary of the first film, though with a different actress in the lead role this time. So here’s Betsy Russell, taking over for Donna Wilkes, in 1985’s Avenging Angel.
Though for us it has been barely a year since the events of the first film, it’s been four years for our characters. Molly, aka Angel (Russell) is now a college student studying to be a lawyer. She has completely left behind being a “High school honor student by day, Hollywood hooker by night.” as the first film’s tagline stated. She is still visited, though, by Lt Andrews (Robert F Lyons), who helped Molly out in the last film. However, Andrews soon meets with tragedy at the hands of some slimeball crooks.
Now, Molly decides to return to the streets as Angel to avenge Andrews. She starts by assembling her street friends from last time around, including street performer Yo-yo (Steven M Porter), weirdo artist Solly (Susan Tyrell), and cowboy Kit Carson (Rory Calhoun). Also joining the team is a guy who dresses like Adam Ant called Johnny Glitter (Barry Pearl), the one witness to Andrews’ murder. Soon the people of the street start rising up against the baddies, but things turn personal when the crooks nab an infant under the care of Solly. Of course, it’s up to Angel and her ragtag group of friends to get the tyke back.
Avenging Angel is pretty much just an hour and a half of nothing. There’s no drama, no excitement, they don’t even play the exploitation card. All the opportunities to do something interesting are squandered. This time around, Angel ends up being essentially a mini skirt wearing Robin Hood. She’s way too goody-two-shoes. If they had at least had her somewhat conflicted, being tempted by her old life of turning tricks, things would’ve been so much more interesting. Gimme a scene where she goes back to a seedy motel with some john, but then she changes her mind and ends up having to break his nose before getting away. Exploitation Cinema 101 here guys.
The film isn’t helped by the cast, I’m afraid. Though Betsy Russell, earned her place in the pantheon of sexy/cute 80’s teen movie stars with films like Private School and Tomboy, here her performance is labored and stilted. The rest of the team is all a bunch of weirdos. I mean, usually when you have a team of oddballs in an 80’s movie, at least a few of them are somewhat relatable. All of Angel’s buddies in this one belong in a padded room! Rory Calhoun seems especially out-of-synch with the rest of the proceedings. Still, I can take more of elderly cowboys than I can this guy Johnny Glitter, who literally tosses glitter on people whenever he enters a room.
The one bright spot of the film is a nutty final act. It involves Angel and her crew trying to get back the baby by exchanging him for the chief bad guy’s son (who looks like he could be Klaus Kinski Jr.). Problem is, they’ve already killed that guy. So, we get a weird quassi-Weekend at Bernie’s moment, followed by some death-defying antics from the baby. It’s not enough to salvage the film, though.
There’s just nothing to write home about when it comes to Avenging Angel. Still, more Angel films were made, with a different actress in the lead each time. Angel III: The Final Chapter (not really) featured future Baywatch actress Mitzi Kapture, then Angel 4: Undercover came along a few years later featuring Darlene Vogel. It’s seems, though, that if might’ve been a good idea to stop with two.