Friday, October 4, 2013

The Sentinel (1977)

Something about Chris Sarandon must be creepy, because he keeps showing up in these horror flicks: The Resurrected, Whispers, and Child’s Play. When I saw he was in this film, I wasn’t surprised. I knew he was probably up to no good. I mean, the guy played the wicked prince Humpdinck in The Princess Bride. But I digress. Here we have another movie about Satan and his minions from the 1970s. Is this going to be closer to The Omen or more like House of Exorcism?

Alison (Cristina Raines) moves into an apartment in New York that is a real steal. This should have been her first warning. Actually it should be her second warning. Her first warning was that she was dating a lawyer named Michael played by Chris Srandon. Anyway, the apartment is very nice, fully furnished and comes complete with wacky neighbors. There’s the enthusiastic but annoying Charles (Burgess Meredith) and the mysterious Father Halliran (John Carradine).

Soon Alison is having nightmares, seeing strange visions and even hallucinates that she’s killed someone. Michael does what he can to sooth her, but begins to realize that something more sinister may be going on. Is it possible the building is hiding a secret. Something so dangerous that it requires a guardian to hold evil at bay. And the time has come for Alison to face The Sentinel.

Good Points:
  • Has some creepy moments in it as the dread builds
  • Plenty of familiar faces in early roles – play spot the star
  • Burgess Meredith is having a blast

Bad Points:
  • The revelation isn’t much of a revelation
  • Often the dread is neutralized by bad pacing
  • Has characters and moments that feel like loose ends

Strictly middle of the road material here. While it isn’t bad for lazy Sunday horror flick, it also doesn’t make much of an impression aside from the impressive cast list (Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, Jerry Orbach, Eli Wallach, Ava Gardner, Jose Ferrer, and Martin Balsam to name a few). This is based on a novel and I get the feeling that elements of this worked much better in the novel and just didn’t translate well to the screen. It’s a shame, because the basics of the story could make a fun flick.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 3
Sound: 3
Acting: 3
Script: 3
Music: 3
Direction: 3
Entertainment: 3
Total:  3

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.    


  1. I had forgotten all about this movie. Just as a matter of taste, I prefer horror films to be non-supernatural. It has to be special to be an exception. This wasn't. As you say, that's remarkable considering the cast.

    1. Yeah it was an odd one to say the least. I'm still curious about the book. It felt like the story could have worked. I don't mind supernatural horror flicks, they can be a lot of fun, even if they can get silly at times.

  2. My favorite bits on this one are the truly horrific ones, like the one where she's all alone in her room and the chandelier starts moving...and we hear noises in the night, and the last 30 minutes which are downright freaky. Plus the creepy neighbors, I do enjoy the unsettling vibe in the whole thing.

    1. It did have some really good moments. The one with the chandelier was handled well. But the overall film just didn't quite click with me.