Wednesday, October 07, 2009

31 Days of Halloween - Day 7 - Movie

It's difficult to discuss "The Sentinel" (1977) without giving the whole thing away. Pretty much all I can tell you is that pretty Christina Raines, not ready to commit to marriage with Chris Sarandon decides to move into her own apartment. When she's in her new place things start to get weird, then scary, then disturbing. This is one of those movies where things seem convoluted and arbitrary until very near the end when everything is suddenly revealed and makes sense, mostly. Many characters and plot threads simply fizzle away and disappear without resolution. There's also one scene that defies plausibility in which Raines, spooked by activity in the allegedly empty apartment above her goes to investigate, barefoot, in her skimpy negligee and a flashlight. I understand that this was to make her appear more vulnerable, and because she is such eye candy, but she would have put some clothes on first I would think. The key to this movie is to just sit back and let the movie unfold without trying to puzzle anything out.

The movie starts out looking very much like a montage from "Charlie's Angels" as we watch Christina Raines working as a model, looking very much like Kate Jackson, but quickly becomes darker as it progresses. There are a lot of unsettling moments and imagery as the movie unfolds. The sets are well utilized and Dick Smith provides some haunting make-up effects, amplified by people with actual severe physical and facial deformities, which seems a lot more exploitive here than it ever did in "Freaks." There are some interesting parallels here when we first meet the other residents of the apartment building, to "Coraline" (both the movie and the novel by Neil Gaiman).

The movie is very effective, only hampered by the distraction of noting how notable the cast is as each actor appears. Included are John Carradine, Jose Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Martin Balsam, Eli Wallach, Jerry Orbach, Sylvia Miles, William Hickey, Christopher Walken, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger, Nana Visitor, Beverly D'Angelo, and Richard Dreyfuss among many others. It's like an entire season of "The Love Boat" mixed together with a handful of rising stars all in one movie.

This is well worth watching, especially if you've just moved into a new home, and you are alone.

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