An exceptionally abusive pimp terrorizes a group of whores on LA’s Sunset Strip. After he beats one of them to death the other girls band together to put an end to it once and for all.
Ah, whores. Nary has a film found their inclusion to be anything but an asset. But when one bases an entire story revolving around them, it better contain plenty of violence and sleaze. Lisa Hunt’s Angel in Red does an adequate job of this. Our story revolves around Mickey (Leslie Bega; Lost Highway, TV’s Head of the Class), a young woman turning tricks to support herself and her handicapped brother (who was beaten in the head so bad it “made him stupid”). She is involved with Sharkey (Jeffrey Dean Morgan; Watchmen, The Resident), a psychotic pimp who rules his girls with an iron fist and a size 10 boot. Due to his less-than-compassionate pimping skills, Sharkey’s girls keep jumping ship forcing him to bust in on them and give them a taste of his backhand. Eventually he goes too far and mercilessly beats a whore to death for holding out on him. This doesn’t sit well with the rest of the sluts, and other street entrepreneurs see this as an opportunity to move in on his business. Obviously one should expect lots of pimp versus pimp and dirty slut action.
If anyone remembers Head of the Class, they will undoubtedly be delighted to see former stuck up rich bitch Leslie Bega turned into a filthy street walker, sucking cocks and selling her ass to survive. The film introduces a dumpster of whores and tries to make the viewer give a shit about their dreams and aspirations; there’s the plucky new one who dreams of going to college, the independent one who don’t need no man to do her pimpin’, and a couple of others that I couldn’t bring myself to even remember let alone write about. Let’s just say there are whores a-plenty and leave it at that.
Hunt’s film takes us on a neon-lit journey through the squalid back streets of LA’s filth-encrusted Sunset Strip where the runaways and junkies reside. Despite having that glossy, slightly overproduced look that many low-budget epics from the early 90s seemed to be plagued with, Angel in Red has a wonderfully greasy feel to it. From the seedy motel rooms to the trash-ridden back alleys; the locations set up the story beautifully. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is perfectly sleazy as Sharkey, pretty boy aesthetic notwithstanding, he beats those whores like there’s no tomorrow. Leslie Bega pulls off a fine performance as Sharkey’s main squeeze Mickey, flopping her ample rack around and generally whoring it up all over the screen.
In addition to the abundance of often kinky hooker/John undertakings, there’s also a profusion of gritty street violence when the rival pimps try and move into Sharkey’s territory culminating in a crescendo of gunplay that is admittedly too ambitious an undertaking for a production of this caliber. The end result is more akin to something one would expect to see on some Saturday afternoon trash television rather than an exploitation film. The final scene in the film actually manages to cobble together a modicum of suspense, despite the awkward delivery. Considering this was the first and last film Lisa Hunt ever directed (under apparent pseudonym William Duprey), it’s an impressive venture. Oddly enough she seems to have found her calling as a set hair and makeup designer a few years later then dropped off the map.
Angel in Red comes recommended for fans of sleaze and trash cinema alike, in addition to slutwear aficionados. The run time is mercifully short, and the film proves to be an entertaining time waster.
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
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Duane co-founded The Church of Splatter-Day Saints in 2005. When not immersed in film he's enjoying good whiskey, smoking meat in the backyard or thinking about sluts. He makes a damn fine habanero fire sauce.