Before I say anything, let’s take a look at this cast: Jose’ Ferrer, Cristina Raines (worst acting you’ll ever see by a lead incidentally), Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, Jeff Goldblum, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Beverly D’Angelo, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jerry Orbach, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, and Tom Berenger .
Boy Howdy, talk about your night of a thousand stars!
Anyway, The Sentinel is a pretty crappy horror film made in 1976 that tells the tale of a fashion model named Alison (Raines) who moves into a brownstone in Brooklyn Heights (her rent is only 400.00 a month, could you imagine?) and before you can say, Rosemary’s Baby she is beset upon by her odd-ball neighbors. First there is Burgess Meredith as the fey Mr. Chazen who walks around with a yellow canary on his shoulder. Later on, our heroine meets the wacky Gerde Engstrom (Sylvia Miles) who talks in a pretty bad Russian accent, and her girl friend, Sandra (Beverly D’Angelo). Alison is put off by the ladies when she witnesses Sandra masturbating (tastefully, but none the less…) in front of her. Later on, Alison is invited to a party at Mr. Chazen’s (for his cat), and meets the rest of the oddballs that live in her building.
A bit put off by the goings on, Alison meets with her real estate agent (Ava Gardner) and tells her about the neighbors. The agent is a bit perplexed and explains that there is only one other tenant in the building and that all the other apartments are empty (cue the ominous music).
Chris Sarandon (sporting a nice 70’s blow dried man-do and ‘stache) is Alison’s lover, lawyer and boyfriend. He begins to investigate the creepy house where his paramour is living and finds out all kinds of nasty secrets about the house’s past. Soon he is engaging a Latin professor (Martin Balsam), and two detectives (Eli Wallach and Chris Walken) to help him piece together the mystery.
Meanwhile, a girl’s got to eat; so Alison goes on modeling assignments. She is photographed by her friend, Jack (Jeff Goldblum—whose, if I’m not mistaken, voice seems dubbed) who helps her get a job in a TV commercial, the director of said commercial (Jerry Orbach in a horrid Sonny Bono wig) is less than thrilled with Allison as she keeps passing out because … well because she lives in a ghost house, I guess.
Things just keep getting weirder and weirder and more nonsensical cumulating in an extremely disturbing finale that features deformed people (yes, actual freakishly physically deformed people) crawling through the house because the gates of hell are about to be opened (or something like that).
Oh man, this movie sucks so much you won’t believe it. But it’s also a hoot! The fashions, the acting, the stars…you can’t go wrong! You'll love it!!!
***NOTE: this was originally posted on my other blog on May 12, 2005