The Sentinel – 1977

When I was much younger, I used to sneak into my parents’ bedroom and steal the paperbacks from my mother’s night table.  I remember much Stephen King – Carrie was the first adult book I ever read – and Peter Benchley.  Audrey Rose was another book I found there along with many John Saul books. Most of the books she read were horror-type books.  The Sentinel was there too and I read it and it terrified me. I have a vague memory of the final scene in the movie (not the famous climax with the demons, just the shot of the new sentinel in the window) and how it freaked me out and I’ve been looking for the film On Demand for a while now.  Success!

The one thing that sticks out in this film for me is that Cristina Raines is drop dead gorgeous in it and her hair and clothing are oddly NOT dated for a film from 1977.  I suppose it doesn’t bode well for the movie when I can’t stop thinking about how good the main character looks because I’m finding the dialogue boring and the acting pretty meh.

There was nothing frightening about this film.  A little creepy, sure, but nothing that made me say “Damn, that’s scary!”.  I made the mistake of looking up this movie before watching it and I call it a “mistake” because I read that the demons at the end of the film are real people without any makeup or special effects.  Michael Winner, the director, used (to quote from Wikipedia) “actual disfigured people and circus freaks to represent demons”.  It sounds less disturbing than it actually was.  Looking at those people and realizing that they look like that in real life and this director exploited that (sure they got paid, but still) really shook me up.

My sister and I once went to a local fair where there was a mini-freak show.  We never went to see any of the attractions even though we’ve gone to this fair every year for all our lives.  This one time we decide to go see the “World’s Smallest Woman”.  Now I don’t know what we expected to see but what we saw was a tiny woman sitting in a box.  It shocked us so much we both gasped loudly, and she obviously heard us.  But she just smiled and quietly said “hi”.  We said “hi” back and then didn’t know what to do.  There was a container in front of her for tips, which we both gave her as we tripped over each other getting out of there.  We both vowed never to go to one of those places again.  It was so sad.  I know it’s how those people make money but it seemed such an inhuman thing to do to someone.  We wanted to take the girl home with us.  Watching The Sentinel through to the end made me feel the same way.

So it was creepy but not the scary story I remember from my childhood.  I’m finally done with it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *