Boasting an all-star cast so impressive that it almost seems like the "Mad Mad Mad Mad World" of horror pictures, "The Sentinel" (1977) is nevertheless an effectively creepy film centering on the relatively unknown actress Cristina Raines. In this one, she plays a fashion model, Alison Parker, who moves into a Brooklyn Heights brownstone that is (and I don't think I'm giving away too much at this late date) very close to the gateway of Hell. And as a tenant in this building, she suffers far worse conditions than leaky plumbing and the occasional water bug, to put it mildly! Indeed, the scene in which Alison encounters her noisy upstairs neighbor is truly terrifying, and should certainly send the ice water coursing down the spines of most viewers. Despite many critics' complaints regarding Raines' acting ability, I thought she was just fine, more than ably holding her own in scenes with Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Arthur Kennedy, Chris Sarandon and Eli Wallach. The picture builds to an effectively eerie conclusion, and although some plot points go unexplained, I was left feeling more than satisfied. As the book "DVD Delirium" puts it, "any movie with Beverly D'Angelo and Sylvia Miles as topless cannibal lesbians in leotards can't be all bad"! On a side note, yesterday I walked over to 10 Montague Terrace in Brooklyn Heights to take a look at the Sentinel House. Yes, it's still there, and although shorn of its heavy coat of ivy and lacking a blind priest/nun at the top-floor window, looks much the same as it did in this picture. If this house really does sit atop the entrance to Hell, I take it that Hell is...the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. But we New Yorkers have known THAT for some time!
A young woman moves into an apartment in a building which houses a sinister evil.
December 28, 2020