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DONNA WILKES IN ANGEL & AVENGING ANGEL W/ BESTY RUSSELL

Title: ANGEL Year: 1984 Cast: Donna Wilkes, Cliff Gorman Rating: ****
ANGEL: High School honor student by day, hooker by night; both sides of Angel, played by cult starlet Donna Wilkes, has a heart of gold. But not John Diehl, a Jack the Ripper meets Travis Bickle psychopath making Hollywood Boulevard a place to avoid, but don't tell that to the locals...

For street dwellers like Rory Calhoun (a Kit Carson impersonator), Dick Shawn (a female impersonator), and Susan Tyrrell (a lesbian landlord), this Hell is home, and like most New World Pictures, we're taken right into the action: feeling like a documentary mixed with seedy melodrama. Co-starring Cliff Gorman as the cop guarding Angel from herself and the killer... but like all exploitation foxes, she's out for her very own revenge! And like all great revenge flicks, you'll be drawn in from beginning to end (despite its use of the standard run and shoot and run finale). Yet through all the exploitation style action and ensemble of great veteran actors, the real focus is Donna Wilkes, who balances tough and vulnerable perfectly: making for one of the coolest vixens of drive-in exploitation cinema.

Year: 1985 Cast: Betsy Russell, Susan Tyrrell, Rory Calhoun Rating: ***
AVENGING ANGEL: Bombshell Betsy Russell, resembling a bionic Donna Wilkes, takes over as the hooker/honor student from the exploitation original; now in law school,  Angel returns to the streets to find those responsible for slaying her cop father-figure (a Cliff Gorman replacement).

Instead of a lone madman, it's Angel and streetsavvy pals Kit Carson (Rory Calhoun) and Sully (Susan Tyrrell) versus gun-totting mobsters in bed with the vice squad. It feels less endearingly drive-in and more straight-to-video thriller/action. Some hijinks humor's thrown in along with the blood and guts, and since our gorgeous heroine does a capable enough job seeking revenge (from the beginning as opposed to the original's third-act vengeance), this flawed sequel holds its own.
Two cult actors from different times converge with a dated painting: Dick Shawn and John Diehl
Some of Donna and Cliff Gorman's scenes drag but as the good cop good hooker they have pretty good chemistry
Taking place on Hollywood Blvd, ANGEL has tons of 1983 movie marquees... here's RETURN OF THE JEDI... click here for more
Gun-firing screen caps usually capture even the coolest actors (former b-Western stud Rory Calhoun) closing their eyes
Three's Company guest-cutie Elaine Giftos confronts cult legend Susan Tyrrell Elaine Giftos Angel Elaine Giftos Susan Tyrrell
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