Somehow I’ve managed to avoid seeing The Sentinel (1977) for the past 33 years, mostly because horror fans seem to pooh-pooh the flick. I finally watched it last night and I thought it was a flat-out good time.
Christina Raines plays a fashion model who scurries around without a bra most of the time (and when she does wear one, you can see through it). She’s not ready to marry her lawyer boyfriend, played by Chris Sarandon (sporting an incredibly fruity mustache) — instead, she opts to move into a swell apartment of her own, and that’s when things start to go nuts. Well, actually, things were already a little nuts for our saucy model — you know, a suicide attempt, seeing dad getting it on with a fat chick and a skinny chick (at the same time!) — and that’s one reason she feels like she needs her space. One big issue with the new pad, though, is the blind priest who sits in constant vigil at an upstairs window…
While The Sentinel isn’t exactly a scare-fest, it does get pretty darn unsettling at times, and when director Michael Winner (Death Wish, The Mechanic) lays on the twisted stuff you can almost hear him cackling with glee. What really makes The Sentinel worth your time, however, is the cast — Eli Wallach as a hard-boiled cop (and his fresh-faced partner is Christopher Walken!), Jerry Orbach as an asshole TV commercial director, Jeff Goldblum as a fashion photographer, Sylvia Miles and Beverly D’Angelo as a pair of creepy lesbians, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, Jose Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Arthur Kennedy, and minor appearances by Tom Berenger and Nana Visitor — and hell, even John Getz from Blood Simple is in there, if you don’t blink. Best of all? Burgess Meredith as Christina’s crazy neighbor, who throws a birthday party for his cat.
Definitely worth checking out.