Thursday, February 4, 2010

Angel of Heat (1983)

Directed by Myrl A Schreibman
Starring Marilyn Chambers, Mary Woronov, Remy O'Neil
Rated R

Myrl A. Shreibman has one of the greatest names in the business. How could a guy named Myrl A. Shreibman make a bad movie? Couldn't happen. Myrl is a cinematic journeyman who has spent the past few decades teaching and writing how-to film-books, but he's done it all in his time, and although his producing/directing resume is relatively slim, it packs quite a wallop. Highlights include producing Fred Williamson's notorious blaxploitation-western mash-up Boss Nigger (1975), writing and producing the exceedingly weird low budget sci-fi cult-flick Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979), and producing bloody/cheeseball Rambo rip-off Hunter's Blood (1986). This, however, was clearly his finest moment. Relentlessly silly and hilariously out of touch, Angel of Heat is exactly what happens when your goofy Uncle Myrl attempts to make an edgy spy satire, but loses all control of the project on the first day and just lets the crazy roll on until the film runs out.

Along with Deep Throat's Linda Lovelace, Georgina Spelvin (The Devil In Miss Jones) and Bambi Woods (Debbie Does Dallas), Marilyn Chambers was one of the 70's biggest sex stars. Chambers famously got her start in show business as the baby on the box of Ivory Snow laundry detergent*, but the world knew her best for her energetic sexual performances in films like Behind the Green Door (1972) Resurrection of Eve (1973), and Insatiable (1980). Her winning combination of girl-next-door looks, athletic body, and aerobic sex maneuvers made her a worldwide star, and she soon graduated to mainstream roles. Although Traci Lords is usually cited as the first porn starlet to crossover into mainstream film, it was Chambers who first took that leap. She appeared in a very memorable role as the Patient Zero in 1977's Rabid, a horror film about a sexually transmitted virus that spirals wildly out of control by Canadian creep king David Cronenberg. While that was probably her highest profile mainstream role, she continued to act, both in porn and non-sex B-movies, throughout the 80's. Angel of Heat was her second major mainstream role, and it was a fuckin' doozy.

The credit sequence features Marilyn Chambers doing naked Karate movies while the worst disco ballad imaginable (by international non-star Denise McCain) blares tunelessly away on the soundtrack. It is the perfectly awful/awesome introduction for the mayhem that follows.

In a rickety plot piled sky-high with mumbo-jumbo, a frequently nude Mary Woronov, a bunch of squares with combovers, and former skin-star Chambers are all super-spies in two warring, top-secret government agencies. Miss Chambers - looking impossibly buff - is Angel Harmony, the number-one agent in "The Protectors". She is outfitted with a booby-trapped apartment that can make her magically disappear during moments of trouble and be instantly replaced by a hologram of either a fat lady or a stuffed lion. So that’s pretty cool, right?

She needn’t worry though, because the hooded interloper that busts into her pad in the opening scene is merely her on-again off again lover, Mean Wong (porn stud Randy West), a Japanese double-agent. This is somewhat confusing since he’s as white as a glass of milk and his jivey accent sploshes back and forth between vaguely Asian and sorta Dutch. They try and make up for this deficit by providing vaguely Asian-looking subtitles on the screen whenever he shows up.

So anyway, they fuck so hard, Angel’s house nearly collapses.

Meanwhile Samantha (cult-movie goddess Woronov) and the two nerds zip down a tree-lined highway as one of then blabs away about micro-chips and the Russians. Somebody stole something. That’s the plot. They visit a scientist who tells them that his son, Albert, was the chief engineer on their new micro-computer technology, but he recently got into dropping acid, and now he’s preoccupied with building supersonic guitar amplifiers or something. The guy’s entire speech sounds like something from 1967.
"Your son is one of your key designers?"
"Yes. He could have been one of the best. The fact is, he’s an irresponsible ass. MIT degree in physics – Sigma Cum Laude – was just finishing his PHD degree in micro-circuit technology at Berkeley. All of a sudden, he begins dropping LSD, ‘man’, walking to the beat of a different drummer, ‘dad’. His grand acid insight was that his mission in life was to provide high technology equipment for rock n’ roll…as if anything could help that sound."

Haha, what are you talking about, grandpa?

In exchange for giving up drugs, dad set his snotty kid up with his own lab in a castle on an island in the Bay. So that’s what’s up.

Meanwhile, Angel goes to Karate class with Wong. Everybody in the class is wearing novelty t-shirts. One guy wears an eye patch and a shirt that says "Sodomy and Taxes". I’m not sure if that’s a joke or not. The Karate master – a Japanese guy with a German accent – shows Angel a new move to try out on her boyfriend. It kills him instantly. Her teacher applauds her.

After class, she gathers all the students and tells them they’ve been assigned a new mission – to go to the kid’s castle and fuck up his invention before anybody else gets their hands on it. Then she asks the Karate master to show her the secret move that makes people retarded when you hit them.

Albert (Dan Jesse) turns out to be whiny, Howard Stern-looking jerk who favors punk rock and bosses his hot wife Andrea (Remy O-Neill, Hollywood Hot Tubs) around a lot. Samantha and the nerd pay them a visit and then drag Andrea with them to a disco to watch a mud wrestling match.

Two weird things happen at the disco. Angel shows up dressed like a hooker and gets upstairs to see the owner, Mr. Big. Naturally, he’s a dwarf. She auditions for a singing gig and then has sex with him on the floor. Midway through, she puts the half-retard Karate move on him to get some info. Then she splits.

Also, Andrea and Samantha join in on the mud-wrestling action. They both end up topless and almost start making out before a four-girl brawl erupts.

Several more things happen, but the crux of it all is that Albert has made a bunch of sex androids and programmed them to kill Angel and the glasses guy with their instatiable robotic love-making. Luckily, Angel manages to out-fuck the fuck-bots.

By the way, one of the more curious aspects of this film is that nearly every shot has a wind-up robot, novelty phone, rubber duck, or some other toy in it.

Coupled with the sex-robot/punk rock laser-gun weapons and the bushy-mustachioed nutbag villain (did I mention that he wears a purple cape?) who wants to take over the world with what amounts to a really loud box, this whole operation looks much more like a Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday morning kid’s show than an R-rated softcore spy spoof.

Anyway, the climax is too amazing to spoil here, but I will say that you learn a very important lesson about love before it's through. And that lesson is this: Don't fall in love with lesbian robots. They'll just end up exploding on you in the middle of a batttle between laser-weilding punk-droids and fat Kung Fu dudes.

I am sure if you asked him, Mr. Myrl A Schreibman would have a sensible answer for what this goofy mish-mash was really all about, but I believe this particular nectar is all the sweeter because of it's sheer inscrutability. The acting is loosey-goosey, the effects are jaw-droppingly shoddy, and the script is incomprehensible. Not only does Angel of Heat not make a lick of sense, it's also hilariously dated - nothing about it, save for the heady concepts about computer chips and "Micro-circuits", would suggest that it was made in the 1980's. I mean, a disco soundtrack? References to punk rock? Kung Fu fighting and a porn star in the lead? It's also so gloriously 1977.

As of today (i.e. 2010), Myrl's latest project is a kid's show called All Aboard for the Magical Music Voyage. That makes complete sense. After all, that's what Angel of Heat is, basically: a demented live action kid-vid, only with bonus boobs and bush shots. Therefore, the kid in you will love it. And so will your grown-up parts. So everybody wins.

PS: Marilyn Chambers RIP.

PPS: FYI: this is your go-to movie for Mary Woronov nudity.

PPPS: Can someone remaster this, already? The "official" DVD looks like garbage.

- Ken McIntyre

* Or, as some have claimed, the girl holding the baby on the box.


  1. Marilyn Chambers was not the baby on the box of Ivory Snow, she was the young mother holding the baby.



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