Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Sentinel (1977)

One of Rosemary's Baby's many children, The Sentinel outpaces the rest of its brood with a fun-enough plotline and one of the most impressive casts of any film ever.  L@@K:

That is not John Carradine and Goldblum's dialogue here is mostly overdubbed for some reason.  But look at the rest of the cast: Burgess Meredith!  Chris Sarandon!  Ava Gardner!  Arthur Kennedy!  Beverly D'Angelo!  The Sentinel is the WAR of movies, with its seemingly random pairings.  PS I like the director's choice for his own credit.

Even though this is pretty planted in the land of Rosemary clones, it boasts enough unique plotting and characterization to stand somewhat on its own.  A woman named Alison had a bad childhood, mostly because she caught her father in mid-orgy with some other hideous people.  Now, grown-up Alison has commitment issues and is consequently moving out of her boyfriend's apartment and into this quaint old building.  Here's some eye candy:

The old building is populated by quaint old people.  This guy is deeply attached to his cat, which is pretty endearing until you get to the cat birthday party scene.  

Other neighbors are quaint in creepier ways, such as publicly masturbating while fully clothed and wearing one of those angel buttons that grandmas like to own.

Even this baby Christopher Walken is repulsed.

The movie constructs tension at a pretty slow pace, but once we hit the midway point and get an incredible ghost encounter, things really begin to pick up.  The Sentinel becomes more and more of a real horror film as time passes, which is always lovely to see.

The thing for which the film is probably best remembered are its few scenes with real sideshow people/deformed humans.  Freaks gets a pass on this because it's so old and Horrors of Malformed Men gets a pass because no one has seen it except me.  But it's hard to imagine this movie didn't get some criticism for this insensitivity back in 1977.  Didn't the filmmakers know that these people are supposed to be on welfare and not working for their money?  But, prog arguments aside, these scenes are not that great and the deformed actors are generally very uncertain-looking, especially when compared with the vets in the regular cast.  All that aside, The Sentinel is a decent choice if you dig this particular area of the genre.


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