director Michael Winner
As per the Stanislavski line, “there are no small parts, only small actors,” you get a movie like The Sentinel in which a lot of big actors show up in a wide range of roles. Packed with folks like Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Eli Wallach, and Martin Balsam but also up and comers like Jeff Goldblum, Beverly D’Angelo (oh my), and that cool Christopher Walken guy. John Carradine! And these aren’t even the leads!
Actually, I saw The Sentinel as a kid and always remembered liking it. I couldn’t remember much about it but a big house and something evil or demonic or what-have-you. Really, it’s best not to know what’s coming because the ending really is a twist. And I think that is really what turns The Sentinel into something above the par.
At times it feels like a Rosemary’s Baby (1968) wannabe. But it’s a little more odd, much more Catholic, if not quite as nearly as eerie. Michael Winner’s direction if proficient, if not really full of terror. There are some interesting FX moments, including a serious face-slashing.
The final sequence where the story becomes finally exposed is the film’s best and most vivid. Winner employs a bunch of people with extreme deformities (to play visions of hell), co-mingled with some with make-up on, something that you don’t see so much of by 1977. I’m somewhat curious about this.
Beverly D’Angelo has both a nude scene and one of the most hysterically funny masturbation scenes ever set on film.
My daughter wasn’t overly impressed by it, saying, when’s it going to be scary? Not a connoisseur yet sadly.