Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Demonic Neighbors But the Rent’s Great, or Thoughts on The Sentinel

The Sentinel (1977), by Director Michael WInner of the Nightcomers (1972) and The Wicked Lady (1983) is one of those 70’s satanic movies very much like The Omen (1976), The Exorcist (1973), and Rosemary’s Baby (1968); let’s call it the Catholic Horror genre.  This forgotten devil-palooza features Screen Legend Ava Gardner in one of her last movies as a sophisticated New York realtor and also a literal metric ton of past and future stars, but more on that later.
Cristina Raines, who had a real Kate Jackson/Charlie’s Angel vibe going on, plays Alison Parker, a 70’s supermodel suffering from some crazy childhood traumas involving the witness of her father’s naked food orgy parties. She moves into an ivy-covered Brooklyn brownstone with an incredible view of the city for $ 400/month that just happens to be built over the gateway to Hell.  What Buffy called the Hellmouth, if you remember the ‘90s.
John Carradine (David’s father), is the blind priest that lives on the fifth floor, along with the original Penguin Burgess Merideth, as another eccentric neighbor.  Beverly D’Angelo is one of the predatory German (maybe Russian?) lesbian neighbors that may seem homophobic from a modern perspective, but help to add an uncomfortable element of psycho-sexual terror to the film.  That’s in addition to the naked zombie orgies Alison encounters on an upper floor.
But getting back to all those cameos: Martin Balsam plays an exposition providing university professor, and Jose Ferrer (Miguel’s father) is another sinister priest, as this is a Catholic Horror movie after all.  Jeff Goldblum is a fashion photographer, Christopher Walken is a police detective, a very young Jerry Orbach plays a TV director and Tom Berenger shows up at the end along with Nana Visitor, Major Kira from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, in her big screen debut.

Cristina Raines starred in Nashville (1975), and Ridley Scott’s The Duellists (1979), but mostly appeared on TV in classic series like Kojak, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Moonlighting.



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