The Sentinel

6.31 h 32 min1977PG-13
When a beautiful model rents an apartment in a gloomy New York brownstone, little does she realize the unspeakable horrors that await her behind its mysterious doors.
Michael Winner
Chris SarandonCristina RainesMartin Balsam
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
John CarradineJose FerrerAva GardnerArthur KennedyBurgess MeredithSylvia MilesDeborah RaffinEli WallachChristopher Walken
Michael WinnerJeffrey Konvitz
Universal Pictures
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
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4.4 out of 5 stars

952 global ratings

  1. 67% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 16% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 11% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

BBDReviewed in the United States on December 19, 2010
4.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent movie, likely targetted towards catholics though
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I like the movie, always have since they used to play it on tv back in the 80's with minimal editting, but times change and nudity portrayed on tv isn't allowed, nor it seems strong religious language in movies is allowed to be shown, except now when you get a dvd(thank goodness, but some movies won't be released without being editted for content like Death Wish 2). I tried to buy this as used and the new universal widescreen edition but got sent the older good times video company full screen version so shame on me for not just buying it new on sale with a larger order to save on shipping, but yeah, its a scarey movie for sure, with lots of nudity, violence, and catholic religious social issues. Seems this movie is really aimed at catholics, all about sexual promiscuity of her father, suicide attempts just cause she viewed him with two chicks(they didn't say they were hookers, not that I noticed), but hey, her father slapped her around for barging in on his "fun" and ripped off her crucifix(which I suppose every catholic knows means yer going to hell like if a guy causes a nun to go straight, I mean straight to bed with him and no longer a nun, or slapping a catholic priest), so I suppose that was enough to drive her to wrist slashing. But hey, her father goes to hell for it, but frankly the way the movie was going, if she or anyone in her family ever pleasured themselves, they were likely heading to catholic hell anyway. At least in the end, it seems there were the ghosts or spectors of murderers come up from hell. I thought it was a little too catholic for all the current and former sentinels to be former suicide attempters, but no adulters, no chronic self pleasurers(ha), or killers, or sinners, etc.
Hopefully watching and enjoying this movie isn't a sin that one could get tagged as a future sentinel for, ha, I mean, I can see the catholic dossiere records on me like in the movie if there ever was one, "hummm, enjoyed The Sentinel, collects war movies, mocked the actors playing priests in the sentinel, he thought the female actress just needed psychiatric counselling and not a murderous boyfriend and needed a father who obviously should have been even ashamed to even show a hooker his ugly dried out body, seems to be a 43 year old teenager at times, shocking, he's definitely a sentinel candidate", yup, I'm damned for sure, if I ever become catholic.
Speaking of sentinel candidates, the way the world is going, they are going to need folks to guard exits from hell on almost every street corner, that will be the job of future lawyers, I mean, they are damned to hell anyway and metaphorically blind(blind justice). Oh well, a few more lines like this and I'll be a blind cross holding priest guarding a gate from hell in no time, haha, so I better stop right here!
Another thing though, I am sure folks notice that our starlet did kill somebody, the private investigator whom she thought was her father, but hey, it was okay, he come to find out had been the contracted killer of her boyfriends' former wife whose death was ruled a suicide though her boyfriend actually had her killed so he could be with her, and oh, ummmm, he happens to be playing a lawyer.
4 people found this helpful
Fit chickReviewed in the United States on May 24, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Very scary
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Good movie, pretty scary. Great acting.
Robert J. CrawfordReviewed in the United States on March 6, 2011
4.0 out of 5 stars
supernatural film noir
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This is a very fun film about a girl who, for reasons she cannot explain, joins a bizarre group of characters in a very old Brooklyn building. Though she is taken aback by their habits, including an erotic scene with a stunningly beautiful young Beverly d'Angelo and an eccentric party with Burgess Meredith, she accepts them with a warm amusement. THere is also a mysterious priest who stares from the top window. By day, she seems to have everything: a flourishing career as a supermodel, a loving relationship with a successful lawyer, and friends.

Little by little, though, layers get peeled away to reveal pain and contradiction in her life. She relives a horrible memory involving her father, which led her to desperate acts as a young girl. She is also plagued with fears at night, hearing noises and sensing evil and begins to break down. There is also a cult of upper-level catholic priests that is watching her, apparently acting with the approval of the hierarchy. Then her boyfriend behaves in strange ways: on the one hand, he is seeking to help her even at risk to himself, but on the other, there is an unmistakeable malevolent side to him that sparks the interest of a local cop. In a way, the boyfriend is her most important link to life, though it is clear he cannot be completely trusted.

As her crisis worsens, all of these aspects form a great mystery that intrigues the viewer, or at least those that enjoy this kind of mindgame. It is like a fast-paced film noir, only supernatural, with a building mood of terror and loss of control. Right up to the end, I had no idea what was really going on. Is there a conspiracy? Are the cultic priests good or bad? What is the role of her boyfriend? What does the vision of her father mean? Who are these strange apartment mates, many of whom are apparently already dead? In the end, not all of the loose ends are tied off, which is fun but also a bit sloppy, at least in my viewing.

Warmly recommended. Another very fun aspect of this are the future stars in this, from Jeff Goldberg and Christopher Walken to d'Angelo. It is an incredible set of actors, which makes the film special.
12 people found this helpful
Vivian JamesReviewed in the United States on July 1, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Old School Scary
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Love this movie, and its definitely star-studded!
Z HayesReviewed in the United States on June 16, 2009
4.0 out of 5 stars
A rather cheesy yet atmospheric and creepy 70s horror flick.
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The 70s gave us many horror classics, notably "The Exorcist" and "The Omen". Hidden away amongst those gems was 'The Sentinel', by no means a great example of the genre, but creepy nonetheless and boasting a cast of familiar names.

The story focuses on Alison Parker [Christina Raines], a famous model who has been involved with her lawyer boyfriend Michael [Chris Sarandon] and living with him for a while. After her father's death,Alison is revisited by painful memories of her late father, a reprobate and the cause of her first suicide attempt. Alison decides to move out into a her own place, and a sinister real-estate agent leads her to an apartment in a large building that is being leased at an incredibly affordable price. Alison's initial joy at scoring a deal turns sour when she realizes that the building's inhabitants are weird and eccentric, including intrusive neighbor Charles [Burgess Meredith], a pair of lesbian lovers [Sylvia Miles and Beverly D'Angelo], and a sinister blind priest [John Carradine] who lives on the topmost floor, perpetually standing at the window.

Alison soon starts experiencing strange incidents - nightmares that seem all too real, and hearing footsteps where there shouldn't be any. Michael tries to help her by digging into the building's history, uncovering some very strange and shocking truths in the process. Will he be able to save Alison from an unfathomable fate?

The acting is actually quite good with credible turns by Raines, Sarandon [though I much preferred his performance in "Fright Night"],Meredith and also other stars like Christopher Walken etc. The effects are okay for the time frame it's set in, and there are quite a few gory scenes. Nudity is also featured here in scenes of an orgy, masturbation etc.

All in all, this is an atmospheric horror movie that is watchable and representative of horror movies of its time.Some parts are rather plodding, but the plot itself is intriguing. Fans of supernatural horror might like it, though I'd recommend it as a rental first.
3 people found this helpful
Dumb OxReviewed in the United States on September 8, 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars
Good And Creepy
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This is a very scary flick, based on the equally creepy book by the same name. In fact, the movie is very faithful to the novel, which was considered fairly shocking for its time frame. This isn't a perfect movie, being choppily made and a bit amateurish in its direction and production, but as far as horror films go, it's very gruesome and creepy.
The cast list features both old and new stars and all of them did a great job. Faded movie queen Ava Gardner is elegant and believable as the realtor who seems clue-free about the horrors contained in her rental property. Jose Ferrer plays the head of a secret brotherhood of priests who select the Sentinel---the poor person who sits at the gates of hell and blocks evil from erupting into the normal world. Eli Wallach is the cynical but willing to be convinced cop who's trying to unravel the bizarre puzzle he's been handed. The great John Carradine---tall, gaunt, with his cavernous voice and arthritis-twisted hands---plays the old priest who is the dying sentinel that must be replaced. Finally, the devil is played to charming and evil perfection by Burgess Meredith.
The newer bunch of faces are good, too. Christina Raines is vulnerable and touching as the girl under spiritual attack from both sides, a pawn in the never-ending battle between good and evil. Chris Sarandon is effective as her caring but ultimately self-centered boyfriend, caught in the grip of unbelief while forced to confront the spiritual reality of the situation he's encountered. There's a group of future stars hidden in the rest of the cast: Jerry Orbach as a jerky TV director; Deborah Raffin, Beverly D'Angelo and Jeff Goldblum as friends of the victimized girl; and Christopher Walken as the junior partner of the veteran cop. Everyone does a great job in pulling off his role and helps carry the story forward.
The special effects are pretty gory for the times and still have the capacity to gross out some viewers. There are some fairly nasty nude scenes, too, especially involving the girl's father and his two ugly whores. The atmosphere of this film is more suspenseful than terrifying, but the psychological drama of a normal person facing unspeakable evil is very well portrayed. The girl is helpless, especially at the end, when confronted by the devil and his minions. Whoever thought to find sideshow freaks to play the fiends around satan was a genius; the effect is very powerful and repulsive. Overall, this is not a modern horror flick with tons of mayhem. It's a more sedate but also more terrifying dip into the realm of evil. Very creepy!
78 people found this helpful
C. BlandReviewed in the United States on August 31, 2006
4.0 out of 5 stars
A Creepy sleeper classic
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This film is a semi-classic that emerged from the 60s-70s period of horror that dealt primarily with religious themes (such as Rosemary's Baby, The Omen, the Exorcist, etc), and while the Sentinel has failed to rise to the same prominence as some of its contemporaries, it's a very well made supernatural chiller that packs a punch in the creepiness/freakiness department.

The plot concerns a young model with a troubled past (played by the attractive but slightly wooden Cristina Raines) who moves into an ominous New York city apartment inhabited by an assortment of eccentric and oddly unsettling characters, including an effete old man (played impeccable by the great Burgess Meredith), a very demonstrative lesbian couple, and a blind priest who always sits vacantly in front of his window. As the film progresses, the young woman's encounters with her neighbors progress from merely strange to truly horrifying, until she eventually learns the apartment's dark secret, which holds within it her own terrible fate. The movie's climax is one of the most memorable in film history, and borrows from Tod Browning classic "Freaks".

The Overall atmosphere of the movie is one of building dread, which flows seamlessly from the fine performances of the cast as well as a number of flashbacks and dream sequences that are very eerie. In fact, it's difficult to articulate exactly what it is about the sentinel that leaves the viewer so unsettled, but the film manages to achieve a kind of dreamy horror that's truly disturbing.

The Sentinel also features some of the earliest performances of now famous actors such as Jeff Goldblum, Chris Sarandon, and Beverly D'Angelo.

While it suffers slightly from a jarring soundtrack and at times looks and sound a little dated, The Sentinel remains a wonderfully unsettling chiller that deserves to be discovered by a new generation.
5 people found this helpful
MidgeReviewed in the United States on May 24, 2009
2.0 out of 5 stars
Caution... content may be offensive
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Although this movie is laden with well-known stars and is a cult horror movie, I think potential buyers should know what they are getting into. This movie is NOT for children under 18 for any reason. No exceptions.

You may find the content of this movie quite offensive... especially if you are unaccustomed to politically incorrect themes and borderline p0rn where one female of a samesex couple blatantly gratifies herself in front of the new tenant... albeit while wearing leotards... it is still quite graphic and the camera doesn't miss a moment from beginning to end.

You can also expect plenty of full nudity, orgies, lewd behavior, spurting blood, graphic violence, hacking with knives, suicides and graphic slashing of wrists... need I say more? Just the nudity and sexscenes alone should have merited an X rating for this movie.

As for the politically incorrect, this was a 70's movie. It depicts a samesex couple (two females) as being sinners of lewd behavior condemned to he11 and those who attempted suicide as ostracized to the gateway of he11. Some people may find this offensive. Don't expect to see current day standards in a 70's movie.

I can't believe the movie was rated R. Perhaps that is the "new generation" ratings... Just be sure you are ready for the content of this movie before you buy it... and please don't let any children watch this movie. Not even teenagers. This movie is clearly too disturbing, shocking and inappropriate for anyone under 21... much less under 18.

I remember watching this movie back in the 70's. I can remember the beginning and the end of the movie but I did not remember anything in between, so when I bought the video, I couldn't believe this was the same movie. I clearly would have remembered the shocking scenes in between if I had seen them. Needless to say, the shocking content took me by surprise and I'm at a loss to explain how I missed it the first time. I must have seen a censored, chopped down family version or fell asleep in the interim.

The storyline is quite different than most other horror stories of the supernatural. A different twist to be sure... but most of the focus is on the bizarre ongoings of the building tenants, lewdness and the dead.

This movie could have been much better if the Director had concentrated on the past "sins" of the characters rather making nudity & lewdness the focus.

The writer could have also chosen a different qualifying factor for the gatekeeper other than suicide.

With that said, the movie only merited 2 stars based on the way the movie was handled by the director.

The actors themselves did an excellent job. This must have been an early film for Goldblum. You see him front and center while they are running the beginning credits... but his name isn't mentioned until the end of the movie... 3rd from the bottom of the list of incidental characters. If he was that new and insignificant, then he shouldn't have been front and center while the beginning credits were running. It may not have been noticed back then, but now that we know this actor, it really stands out.
4 people found this helpful
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