Black October: The Sentinel

October 17, 2011

No, not the Michael Douglas Secret Service movie. This is an underrated, unknown ’70s gem that you really have to see if you like devil-oriented scarefests. While the star, Christina Raines, is pretty much a “who is that?” actress, this movie is just packed with famous faces. Some were already legends: Martin Balsam, Jose Ferrer, John Carradine, Ava Gardner and Arthur Kennedy. Others were just starting out, so watch for young Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, Jerry Orbach, a super-sleazy Michael Sarandon and, in my favourite moment, a very, very young Nana Visitor and Tom Berenger as newlyweds. Wait, I’m changing my favourite moment to that part with the young lesbian nutcase Beverly D’Angelo. She gets naked.

  • Plot: A model rents a new apartment in Brooklyn. Upstairs, there’s a blind priest who sits in the window all day and all night. The other neighbours are very, very strange, including the little old man with the cat, who is not what he seems at all. The priest is there for a reason: he’s guarding the gateway.

I love this movie, mostly because the book it’s based on is one of my favourite horror novels. Jeffrey Konvitz must have been more than pleased to see his story adapted so faithfully; I just wish The Guardian, his equally fantastic sequel novel (No, not the stupid Kevin Costner/Ashton Kutcher swimming movie), never made it to film. This stuff is as good as, or better than, The Exorcist and most other ’70s Satanica.

  • Warning, though: The Sentinel uses people with actual physical deformities in one sequence, and this caused a stir of accusations of exploitation. If you’re sensitive that that kind of thing, you should probably watch some Twilight. Also, the poster is a spoiler.

One comment

  1. I read this on your recommendation. Really enjoyed it and found out it’s an old favourite of my mum’s too. The film is finally on its way from Lovefilm. It will be interesting to see what Michael Winner does with it.

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