The Sentinel - Horror Movie Review (Day 3 of 31 - October Massacre)

The Sentinel - Horror Movie Review (Day 3 of 31 - October Massacre)
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PLOT: A fashion model finds a great deal on a NYC apartment, replete with bizarre neighbors and things that go bump in the night. You might say the experience is...hellish.

REVIEW:  Even if you don’t live in NYC, or have never been there, you are probably aware of how difficult it is to find a decent rent. So when up and coming model Alison Parker finds a spacious, furnished apartment for a more than reasonable price, of course she jumps for it. Her smarmy lawyer boyfriend Michael wants her to come live with him, but Alison’s mother suffered through a horrible marriage with Alison’s father because she had nowhere else to go, so Alison is determined to be as independent as possible.

Also as we all know, when something is too good to be true it probably is. In this case, the apartment doesn’t have rats or leaks or faulty wiring: it has demons. When Alison complains to her realtor about her weird neighbors and their shenanigans (birthday parties for cats, noises at night, public masturbation: just the usual stuff) she is chagrined to learn that other than the creepy, quiet priest on the top floor, she actually has no neighbors. She is then lead on a tour of all the other quite empty, dusty, spiderwebbed apartments. Uh oh. Turns out the building houses the doorway to Hell, which really should have been spelled out in the lease.

Director Michael Winner, more known for the DEATH WISH films, has crafted a pretty neat little horror film, here. In the beginning you might chuckle at how 70’s the film is, but once the underworld starts bleeding through into Alison’s life, it’ll wipe the smile right off your face. At one point she even stabs her dead father to death. That’s something you don’t see every day. And Winner goes the Tod Browning route at the end, using people with actual congential deformities to portray denizens of Hell. Not terribly politically correct, but damned effective. The religious aspect of the film is also nicely ambiguous: there is a heavy Only Jesus Can Save Your Soul vibe, but at the conclusion the church isn’t looking too rosy in the doing the right thing category. There’s a little something here to make everyone feel uncomfortable.

BEST TNA SCENE: Most every female in the film is naked at some point, with varying degrees of anyone wanting to see them. There is a also creepy/hot scene featuring a young Beverly D’Angelo masturbating.

BEST GORE BIT:  There isn’t a lot of gore in this film, but when Alison stabs her father in the eye she rakes the knife downward, splitting it open and what looks like stuffing pushes out. Gah-ross.

HALLOWEEN DRINKING GAME:  Whenever you see Chris Sarandon’s 70’s pornstache, drink copiously until it no longer makes you feel weird.



Extra Tidbit: Apparently director Michael Winner pulled an EXORCIST on lead actress Cristina Raines. She says she cried every day on the way to the set, and has never watched the film due to how he treated her. On a lighter note, the film is chocked full of young versions of future famous actors. Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Walken, Beverly D’Angelo, even a quick bit of Tom Berrenger at the end.



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