Friday, March 12, 2010

Angel of Destruction (1994)

Directed by Dan Golden
Starring Maria Ford, Charlie Spradling, Jessica Mark, Chanda Fayme Rated R

"The broken nose is for the girl - the vasectomy's free."

Topless action flicks are the cinematic equivalent of a late-night Taco Bell run. While they have, in fact, been greedily and happily consumed by just about everyone - and usually during a giddy alcoholic stupor - they are practically never praised in public. Worse still, "erotic thrillers" have none of the cult appeal of similar subgenres. There's dozens of books and hundreds of blogs dedicated to slasher movies, but sexy action flicks? They get no respect, man.

They do, however, have their own kings and queens, and Maria Ford is one of them. Ford's hazy star never shined quite as brightly as her contemporaries - Z-action perennials like Shannon Tweed or Julie Strain - but she may be the most remarkable actress of the bunch. The Morticia eyebrows, the sand dollar sized nipples, the stubborn refusal to register emotion of any kind, it all adds up to one deliciously ridiculous package that's impossible to resist. She is probably most well known for 1995's audacious Stripteaser - another no-budget Roger Corman-produced quickie - but Angel of Destruction is just as over-the-top, and infinitely weirder.

Set in Hawaii, but filmed in the Phillipines - and in some of the grungiest, least Hawaii-esque locations imaginable - Angel of Destruction tells the tawdry tale of Delilah (one-time actress Jessica Mark), a topless cabaret performer/glam-metal singer from Honolulu. With her career on the skids, Delilah launches a racy comeback at a local S&M club, performing her songs wearing heavy metal lingerie and cavorting with her lover/co-conspirator Reena (Chanda Fayme, Emmanuelle, Queen of the Galaxy) on an electric chair prop while smoke bombs go off and scantily-clad locals writhe in a cage behind them. This audacious display attracts the attention of berserk bleach-blonde man-mountain Robert Kell (Jimmy Broome), a sexual predator/mercenary/ex-military man in town to waste a bunch of underworld fat cats who "left his men to die in Angola", whatever the fuck that's supposed to mean.

Kell sends Delilah a finger in the box, which prompts her to seek out a bodyguard, private investigator Brit Alwood (Charlie Spradling, Ski School). She doesn't want to bring her troubles to the cops because she doesn't like the police - as she tells Brit, her dad was a cop, and he raped her. Ouch!

Brit does her best to keep Delilah safe, but then Kell snaps her neck, and that's the end of that. It's a pretty disorienting moment in the film. Isn't Britt the Angel of Destruction? What? She has a sister?

Yep. Brit's step-sister Jo (Maria Ford), an undercover cop, shows up to bury her older sister and exact bloody revenge on the beast who killed her. And also to take over bodyguarding duties for Delilah. And also to do a striptease dressed as cat.

Oh, and to have a house-destroying karate fight with half a dozen mustachioed Filipino dudes while wearing nothing but a thong.

But that's not all. Heavens, no. There's also mob hijinks, a super- slo-mo sex scene with a gay guy (also mustachioed), an extravagant and shameless misuse of spandex and half-shirts, over the top car explosions, and slasher movie psycho bullshit, just to name just a few of Angel of Destruction's singular delights.

The plot is mostly non-existent, the production values grubby and threadbare, and the film's adherence to any functional form of reality is mostly tenuous, but the rewards are so great with this one that all these deficits can easily be overlooked. A heaping, piled-high plate of pure gut-bucket 90's exploitation, this is the sort of deliriously cheeseball 3AM pay cable time-filler that teenage sleaze-beasts dream of, but rarely ever witness. A glittering pearl amongst the tedious muck of artless 90's erotic-thrillers, the undeservedly obscure Angel of Destruction is well-worth the hunt. A minor masterpiece of old-school drive-in trash.

Director Dan Golden has spent most of the past decade working as a DP, shooting softcore for T&A legends like Jim Wynorski and Donald F Glut. The odds are, if you've watched a titty-flick that was made in the past ten years - Countess Dracula's Orgy of Blood, The Witches of Breastwick, Bikini a Go Go, Cheerleader Massacre, etc. etc. - it was our man Dan behind the camera. As for Maria Ford, she's mostly abandoned her exploitation roots as of late, preferring family TV drama like 7th Heaven and kidflicks like Beethoven's Fifth (2003). But if she ever wants wallop some sleazy mustache dudes in a thong again, there will surely be legions of bleary-eyed sleaze-beasts tuning in.

- Ken McIntyre

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