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DARK ANGEL: THE ASCENT
1994
Written by Matthew Bright and directed by Linda Hassani
81 Minutes
Rated R

Praises be to Full Moon Entertainment. While my older or more seasoned readers will be familiar with Full Moon, the younger sprats may just look at me funny when I mention them. Simply put, above Troma and all else, Full Moon Entertainment was the finest purveyor of direct-to-video crap and schlock during the eighties and nineties. It may seem like a long time ago; going direct to DVD now doesn't have quite the stigma that something going direct to VHS used to, but rest assured, crap to fill video store shelves was made - especially horror crap - and Full Moon was behind the scenes pulling the strings.

And so we have Full Moon to thank for Dark Angel: The Ascent, reigning champion best bad movie in my entire circle of friends. It's had numerous challengers and pretenders to the throne, but it persists against all comers. Even seasoned Showgirls fans must submit...this movie sucks. It sucks hard. But it's also absolutely hilarious and nothing short of awesome.

The key ingredients of a bad movie are accounted for here. Bad acting, gratuitous nudity, bad gore...even bad dubbing in places. Filmed in Romania before everyone else knew filming in Romania was a great way to get it done on the cheap, Dark Angel: The Ascent remains constantly perplexed as to where it actually takes place.

My love for how crappy this movie is knows no bounds. Starring Angela Featherstone, better known to most bad movie junkies as Ash's girlfriend at the end of Army of Darkness as Veronica, Dark Angel: The Ascent chronicles the ascent of a dark angel from Hell to become a crimefighter on Earth, and to learn the ways of love from a human male. There's some funny stuff and legitimately clever ideas in Hell, and an appropriate use of the classic Wilhelm scream, but the movie really gets going when Veronica arrives on Earth.

Trying to chronicle all of the ways this movie goes awry would spoil the fun, so I'll go ahead and espouse on why it's such a great bad movie. First and foremost, it's actually pretty entertaining on its own, which is where a lot of bad movies fail. Oftentimes (like in Species 4 for example) the lulls in the plot will drag the whole thing down entirely, and after a certain point you'll seriously consider just slashing your wrists or gouging your eyes out, anything to make the pain stop other than doing the logical thing and turning the son of a bitch off (which if you're a bad movie veteran, you know is verboten unless in extenuating circumstances).

Second, the movie nearly constantly supplies the viewer with fresh ammunition. Veronica's naivete on Earth is one of those things that just doesn't work, not even at the scripting stage, because it's always going to seem really cornball. With a great writer and a great director, it might've gotten somewhere in the ballpark of legitimately sincere, but this is Full Moon Fucking Entertainment we're talking about here. This bitch is off the map.

Third, it never tips its hand. A good bad movie has to take itself seriously. The whole winking at the camera thing that's gotten so popular over the past decade or so in horror - that self-referential humor - will sink a bad movie to true depths of awfulness, or worse, mediocrity. Dark Angel: The Ascent is wonderfully innocent and honest, and because it demands we take it seriously, we laugh. We laugh heartily and often.

Fourth, it has gratuitous violence and nudity. Key ingredients to keep a bad movie chugging along, Veronica appears multiple times in states of undress and also eviscerates a lot of people. While it's generally preferable to have a bunch of different naked women, Angela Featherstone is honestly pretty hot, and she can carry it by herself. And on the gore end, one guy gets his spine ripped out, and a lot of stuff gets pretty messy, so this angle is well covered.

Folks, this movie is awesome. I don't think its of the kind of quality that it deserves a 6.0 on IMDb (as of the time of this writing) because seriously, who in their right mind would think this is better than Ghostbusters II? It is absolutely worth tracking down, though. It's accumulated a small but apparently devoted cult following, and I've seen the tape go for at least twenty bucks. I was lucky enough to be able to buy my copy for a whole dollar when my local video store was going out of business, the same copy I'd rented multiple times previously to inflict on others.

If you can find it, pick it up. Do not watch it alone. Consider watching it with alcohol involved, although it's funny enough when you're sober. I'm pretty sure getting stoned would make the movie blow your fucking mind.

Awful movie. Highly recommended.

- Dustin Sklavos

All written content and colored rating system copyright Dustin Sklavos 2009. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.