Angel Blade (2002) from Tuna

David Heavener wrote, directed and starred in this neo-noir erotic thriller about the non-gambling, non-glitz side of Vegas. (In fact, there isn't a single slot machine or casino in the film.)

A serial killer is dispatching barely pregnant hookers in Las Vegas with a knife. Based on brief flashes, we know that they were chained to a wall and tortured. They all had the same panties with prints of angels on them.

Heavener's character is a police detective, or at least he used to be one before his life went wrong. First, his pregnant wife died falling off a building, after he had been paged to come to work. He was later suspended from the force for three months after stepping on the toes of a police commissioner. Six months have passed since that time, and still he has no intention of coming back, but his boss wants him on this case, and the pregnancy angle intrigues him. As the detective starts to follow the clues, he finds that a lingerie model (Amanda Righetti) is the sole supplier of the angel-print panties. He ends up in a romantic relationship with her. Twists ensue. I don't want to give any more clues, since they might spoil the ending, which is completely unique.

Co-star Amanda Righetti (who is now a regular on "The O.C.") had no previous acting experience when she made this film. Heavener read dozens of actresses for the role and didn't like any of them. He then decided to see models, who would be comfortable with their body and able to handle the nudity. He was very pleased with Righetti, and felt that she had natural acting ability. The rest of the cast included Marc Singer, Richard Moll, Louis Mandylor, and Margot Kidder in a cameo.

I am still not sure how I feel about Angel Blade. I felt unfairly manipulated by the director more than once, such as in a scene where Heavener wakes up from a bad dream, and then wakes up again, as he had been dreaming that he was having a bad dream. Since the "making of" featurette says that Angel Blade is "not your grandma's erotic thriller," I will grade it within that genre and give minus points for the sex and nudity (no full-frontals, virtually no sex), but plus points for a unique plot. On the average, it is a satisfactory genre offering.



  • The widescreen transfer is anamorphically enhanced



  • Amanda Righetti - breasts and buns

  • Heather Sturm, Bethany Rigazio, Kathleen Pederson - breasts

  • Unknowns - breasts and buns

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb readers say 1.9, but that score appears to be meaningless. It is based on only 25 votes, and all three linked reviews are positive.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

Our own guideline:

  • A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
  • B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
  • C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are indistinguishable to you.
  • C means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others probably will not.
  • C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film, but films with this rating should be approached with caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C- and an E are indistinguishable to you.
  • D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-. Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.


Based on this description, this film is a C as an erotic thriller.

Return to the Movie House home page