Obviously I was expecting Raging Angels (1994) to be terrible… I mean, it’s a low-budget supernatural “thriller”, credited to pseudonymous director Alan Smithee, and five separate screenwriters… but I wasn’t expecting it to be so darn churchy and right wing!
For those who don’t know (and why would you?), this flick follows the story of a pretty-boy rock singer, ‘Chris’, who gets kicked out of his own band when his mates grow tired of his alcohol-related tardiness… and he wends his wobbly way home, to be consoled by his girlfriend, ‘Lila’, a waitress who also happens to be an aspiring singer. Shortly thereafter they learn of an open audition for a televised benefit show hosted by famed waistcoat-wearing rock-star, ‘Colin Gramercy’, on behalf of a charitable organisation called “Coalition for World Unity”. Little do they suspect that Gramercy is in fact the human host for a diabolical demon, intent on plunging our world into a new era of peace, equality, charity and fraternity… which is a bad thing, of course, because… er… he’s a demon…? I think I might have missed the part where they explain why jingoism is such a virtue and why humanism is such a despicable vice. I guess in a fictional world where angels frequently intervene to save the main characters from drive-by shootings and car accidents, it makes sense to sneer at atheists… but that sort of showy miracle is far less evident in our own mundane corner of the multiverse… and even in the film’s version of reality, the Heavenly Host can only be bothered to rescue young, attractive blonde people! Feh. Anyhoo, Lila quickly falls under Gramercy’s smarmy spell, just as Chris’s precognitive grandmother warned him she would, before encouraging her grandson to team up with a faith-healing nun, and save his girlfriend’s eternal soul via the power of prayer and really cheap, crappy-looking CGI!
My main motivation for buying this DVD was that it stars, nay, introduces Monet Mazur, of Castle and Monster-in-Law fame. Apparently she made her first big-screen appearance as a ‘Flirting Woman’ in Addams Family Values, and since then, she has popped up in Austin Powers, Mystery Men, Comic Book Villains and The House Bunny. It’s a little hard to gauge Mazur’s performance here, considering how banal her character is… but she sure does look purdy! ‘Sister Kate’, is played by Diane Ladd, of Wild at Heart fame (and also the mother of that movie’s lead actress, Laura Dern!) The Variety review of her performance here claims she played the part with “gusto”, but I thought she seemed rather flat and detached (not that I blame her, of course). I get the sense from the dialogue and the way she’s introduced that Sister Kate was originally intended to be an African-American character, before someone cast a white actress in the role… but I can’t really back that up without sounding slightly racist, so let’s just drop the subject shall we? Ladd has over 120 credits on her resume, but I have a pretty limited field of interest (i.e., I’m pig-ignorant), so the only other titles that leap out at me are Cold Lazarus, 28 Days and Inland Empire. Chris’s clairvoyant ‘Grandma Ruth’ is played by two-time Academy Award winner Shelley Winters, of The Night of the Hunter fame. Yes, really. Now sadly deceased, Winters enjoyed a very long and successful career, appearing in such diverse shows as Lolita, Alfie, the Batman TV series, Cleopatra Jones, S.O.B. and Roseanne…. and she gives a very sweet and committed performance here, in a fairly silly and superfluous role, so bless her for that. Fun fact: Ladd and Winters have actually worked together before, on a 1973 TV-movie called The Devil’s Daughter, which starred the latter as a young woman who discovers that her parents promised her soul to Satan when she was born! Sounds fun, but sadly it’s not widely available on DVD. :(
Last but not least, is Gramercy’s jealous female associate, ‘Megan’, played by Arielle Dombasle. Not only does she secretly order the on-stage assassination of Lila, she also uses her evil opera singing powers to invoke spooky demons to push poor Grandma down the stairs! Oh no! I can’t say I was familiar with Dombasle before now, but apparently she’s a successful French-American singer, actress, director and model, with a long list of IMDb credits, and seven albums to her credit… most of which appear to be “en Français”, aside from an occasional episode of Miami Vice and The Red Shoe Diaries. She certainly looks stunning here, but doesn’t really get much to do beyond seething in silence and giving a few orders to random underlings. I assume they cast a Frenchy in the role because they wanted to show that the OWU was an international organisation… but I still find it a little galling (no pun intended) that all of the real villains in this movie had European accents. We aren’t all godless amoral swine over here, honest!
Sigh. The only plus point I can really come up with in the movie’s favour is that it was kinda nice to hear the “Christian Metal” band Stryper again after all these years, playing over the end credits… I never bought any of their records back in the day, but I appreciated what they were trying to do, and their bright yellow costumes certainly stood out during those late-night video compilation shows!