The Sentinel (1977)

Directed by: Michael Winner

Produced & Written by: Jeffrey Konvitz & Michael Winner


Chris Sarandon .... Michael Lerman
Cristina Raines .... Alison Parker
Martin Balsam .... Prof. Rudinsky
Jose Ferrer .... Priest of the Brotherhood
Ava Gardner .... Miss Logan
Arthur Kennedy .... Monsignor Franchino
Burgess Meredith .... Charles Chazen
Sylvia Miles .... Gerde Engstrom
Deborah Raffin .... Jennifer
Eli Wallach .... Det. Gatz
Christopher Walken .... Det. Rizzo
Jerry Orbach .... Michael Dayton
Beverly D'Angelo .... Sandra
Hank Garrett .... James Brenner
Jeff Goldblum .... Jack

Special Appearance:

John Carradine .... Fr. Francis Matthew Halloran

Release Date: Theatrical: January 7, 1977

*Images courtesy at







A TV commercial actress and fashion model Alison Parker (Cristina Raines) is not ready for marriage but falls in love with her lawyer Michael Lerman (Chris Sarandon) but needs her space so she accepts an old apartment down at the Brooklyn Heights where she spots a strange old priest by the name of Fr. Francis Matthew Halloran (John Carradine) staring outside on his top floor whom is apparently blind.
She is also haunted by her past when she tried to commit suicide as a teenager when she caught her father Mr. Parker (Fred Stuthman) fooling around with two women and continues to have nighmares about it while residing at the old building.
She is also introduced by an eccentric neighbor of named Charles Chazen (Burgess Meredith) who owns a cat and a pet budgie and takes them wherever he goes.
Apart from that she is invited by two strange lesbian couples by the names of Gerde Engstrom (Sylvia Miles) and Sandra (Beverly D'Angelo) for some tea in their suite as Alison is briefly left alone by Sandra and seemes to nearly masturbate while staring at her.
Next, she is invited to Charles' suite with the rest of the residents there for a birthday celebration for his cat and later on goes into a twisted dream during that scenario along with hearing footsteps thumping back and fourth on the top floor and keeping her awake at night. She talks to her realtor Miss Logan (Ava Gardner) but tells her that no one has lived on that floor for years and that she is living alone there with only Halloran on the top floor which doesn't make sense to her as she tells her about the neighbors and the party she was invited to for a cat and Miss Logan thinks that Allison is losing it.
She also has psysical problems to top it off especially when she is doing a photo or commercial shoot plus can only read in latin losing her eye sight along with telling Michael that she saw her dead father residing on the top floor of her suite so Michael does some research on the people living at the apartment only finding out that they were all dead and most of the people were once murderers that sold their souls to the devil. The terrifying secret is that Allison is living there for an evil reason and something is planned for her and the building is a gateway to hell.


A film based on Jeffrey Konvitz novel but really doesn't meet up to a film version on this which can be easily categorised as a ripoff to Rosemary's Baby with a touch of the Exorcist by having the lead actress play an actress except there's no possessions. Of course the film tried to have original elements along the way but it doesn't cut it.
There's many good takes with a photographer taking pictures of Alison Parker modelling which looked natural.
Many good conversations and takes between Alison and supporting a landlady Miss Logan by showing her around the building that she decided to reside in along with a nice shot looking up at the two of them standing outside when Alison herself tells her someone in that building is staring at her which looked impressive for a start on a horror flick.
There is a flashback moment with an elderly family man fooling around with a bunch of chubby sleazy bimbos and his daughter which is a teenage Alison Parker catching him in the act as well as her trying to take her life which suits the story showing a real disturbing dysfunctional moment along with her nightmares about it showing a good drawing card to everything o0n what she will encounter much later. Then it haunts her in her new suite.
There's more mysterious elements like having a supposed preacher who is blind just standing out the window of his apartment building and wondering who this person really is which is creepy later on.
A nice presence by the main resident Charles Chazen at the building introducing himself along with his cat and pet bird giving it that humoress touch which works well.
My favourite scene in the film is when Alison is invited by their lesbian neighbors named Gerde Engstrom and Sandra in which Sandra seems sexually aroused by spotting her which she acts inapporopriate about it all. Right away I wondered if these two were somewhat possessed by a demonic force. It was creepy regardless making it a nice key to the atory on what will unravel later on as well.
What will boggle your mind is an eccentric resident inviting everyone to celebrate a Birthday to his pet cat which you don't spot everyday as well as certain comments by the people there making comments about it all as it seems to act like they're on something serious. It looked good and twistedwhen she is entering a room with the guests at a cat's Birthday party along with many good shots on the cat wearing a party hat which looked cute. It was really strangely done by leaving it a nice horror feel that something's not right along with a nice one liner onone of the guests commenting the colour of the cake with the cat. I could never shake that moment off.
There's also a hallucination moment with Alison and everyone surrounding her in which some of them are nude which easily does steal away from Rosemary's Baby by any means. A good shot on her sleeping in bed at night twisting and turning and it was a nice dark feeling with her having a nightmare along with a nice black and white dream sequence with some of the residents at the party doing some strange deeds along with Sandra banging some cymbals together and then going towards the camera with them.
There's a perfect dark shot with Alison holding a knife trembling and walking around the halls with a knife and then a good gruseome shot on the cat eating the bird and then hissing with her getting freaked out.
Plus there's many moments when Alison is in bed and hears loud footsteps from above at night in which this was supposed to be scary when she finds out what has caused this and yet it's a little bit creepy but at the same time turning out to be a bit cheesy too.
A good moment with her entering a dark room and then her dead father as a ghostly corpse breezing by along with her approaching him in which this moment gives it that good old fashioned haunting feel to it. There's also many good shots on her stabbing his face.
There's also the final truth on these residents which is also bizarre when her and her boyfriend Michael Lerman finds out who they are. A good argumentive moment betweenthe two of them about some books on a shelf at the building when she explains theyre all the same and printed in latin. It psychs you out a bit.
A terrific camera shot looking up on Michael while browsing through some files realising that the residents were all killers and dead which looked good and creepy.
There's a great moment with Michael chasing after Fr. Francis Matthew Halloran up the stairs and later on acting intense and trying to strangle him.
A good still and creepy moment with Michael approaching Alison and telling her what's going to happen to her and what happened to him which leaves a chill down your spine.
Also for the final conclusion involving Alison with these residents looked a bit twisted and gothic along with appealing to a cult audience with these types of horror flicks.
Bottom line is that It's a weird story and at times creepy though with alot of failed moments trying so hard to be scary which it looks a little corny/ However, some of the scene's almost remind me of those old fashioned black and white haunted house type of a flick but like I mentioned alltogether is that sometimes it's a little cheesy and bland too. The story is a little slow to top it all off.
Watch it if you're in the mood for an average cult and twisted low budget horror flick but don't expect it to be a mainstream blockbuster type of a film as it misses that by a longshot.

The acting is well... some of it needed improvement especially with lead actor Chris Sarandon (Michael Lerman) who just seemed to read his lines and desperately needed acting classes as I was not the least bit convinced. He only did a good job with the direction but no character at all.
Cristina Raines
(Alison Parker) who plays his girlfriend seemed a bit better but needed a bit more energy as she seemed at times wooden but knew how to cry on set along with showing the odd fears when necessary. She was does well by when she acts woozy while someone is taking photographs of her. She isn't too bad when she is crying confessing to an onscreen preacher on what she did.
Jose Ferrer
(Priest of the Brotherhood) seemed to play his part as a mysterious preacher quite well as he comes across as someone who isn't what he's all cracked up to be and in an evil way too.
Ava Gardner
(Miss Logan) know her job and was quite slick with her words as the real estate agent in the film and even she came across as someone who is almost deceiving and has a twisted secret about the building.
Burgess Meredith
(Charles Chazen) really brought out alot of character in his role as the eccentric neighbor in the film and was quite a ham too which uplifts the darkness to the story. He also came across well with his evil words later on showing his true versatality to his part.
A perfect snarling reaction on her speaking evilly towards her fellow actress while she tries to get away. A nice reaction on her when she is about to slit her wrists until she is disturbed.
Sylvia Miles
(Gerde Engstrom) is just plain creepy no matter what she portrays and this time plays a lesbian in the film and shows a nice and sleek what sounds like a Russian accent which was very amusing. She definetely leaves an impression that you wouldn't want to trust her at all or being alone in a room with her. She always came across that way with every show I've seen her in usually playing these oddball types of characters.
Beverly D'Angelo
(Sandra) who plays her lover was also good at being whacked and creepylike proving her character worthy even if she didn't have very many lines but did what she had to do to prove herself which wasn't a surprise that she lead a successful career afterwards.

We have a brief and breast shot by two overweight actresses played by Jane Hoffman and Elaine Shore in bed during a flashback scene and other various scene's with them as ghosts.
Cristina Raines
wears a see through bra.
There's a nude dream sequence with many of the supporting actresses mainly performed by Sylvia Miles and Beverly D'Angelo exposing their breasts and D'Angelo showing almost everything. They also do this during their ghostly moments too.

A girl slashes her wrists which looked good, graphic and bloody
A ghostly corpse of an old man is brutally stabbed in the eye and face with blood pouring out of him.
A side of a guys face is slaughtered and falling apart.
Two women start eating a man's corpse.

Gil Melle composes the music very 70's orchestral like and quite dated like you'd hear in a crime series such as Starsky & Hutch and Police Story but there are some nice effective moments with the high quivery violin playing for when the mystery unfolds about the residents that are supposedly dead along with some screechy type chord playing too along with the low rumbling drums sounds. However there's a moment with the dead father and we hear a high pitched trombone playing which sounded a little corny.

Anna Clark: Black and white cake... Black and white cat