When you find a huge, fully furnished apartment in Brooklyn for $400 A MONTH, how can you not know it's going to turn out to be the Gateway to Hell?
Michael Winner's 1977 "The Sentinel" has kind of gotten lost over the years, and of course it's a shameless ride on the pea-soup-stained coat-tails of "The Exorcist," not to mention "Rosemary's Baby." But it is also creepy and so darned 70s that it has taken on the shine of a horror gem, (you might have to scrub past the needlessly convoluted investigation that ruins the second half.) A fashionable New York model (Cristina Raines) dating a catch of a lawyer (Chris Sarandon) decides to move into a suspiciously available apartment building where her neighbors include a blind priest, twin old ladies, an old fruit played by Burgess Meredith:
and a masturbation-prone French ballerina played by a young Beverly D'Angelo:
Probably the first thing you'll notice beside the pervasive lack of supportive underwear (thank you, bra-burning feminism!) is the AMAZING CAST, perhaps the best ever accidentally assembled for a minor scary movie. I say accidentally because half of the actors are either exiting fame (Burgess Meredith, John Carradine, Jose Ferrer, Eli Wallach, Ava FREAKIN' Gardner) or hadn't entered it yet ( Beverly D'Angelo, Jerry Orbach, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Walken.) The other thing you should take away is that, while most of the movie is just cats-jumping-at-you atmosphere, LITERALLY, there is one final scene that makes it into my nightmare canon. Director Winner draws on his inner, freakish Todd Browning and gives us a parade of deformities: some of it is Hollywood make-up, some of it is actual genetic misfortune, all of it disturbing as fuck. This is one to catch at 3 in the morning, when nothing else is distracting you.
And kindly file Cristina Raines under: "Hotties Lost to Time."