Category Archives: Might See
From the one and only Rob Zombie comes 3 from Hell, the latest blood-soaked chapter in his ultra violent sociopathic crime family saga that started with his 2003 throwback shocker House of 1000 Corpses and was followed two years later by the equally depraved The Devil’s Rejects.
After being ‘gunned down’ at the end of The Devil’s Rejects, Baby (Sheri Moon Zombie), Otis Driftwood (Bill Moseley) and Captain Spaulding (Sid Haig) are serving their long sentences behind bars. But pure evil cannot be contained. Following the death of Captain Spaulding, Otis’ half-brother Wilson (Richard Brake) is enlisted to break Otis and Baby out of prison. But things don’t go according to plan… Otis has killed a well-connected gangland leader called Rondo (Danny Trejo in a super brief cameo), and now his son Aquarius (Emilio Rivera) and his Black Satanists gang are out for blood…
Rob Zombie’s films are like Marmite – you either love them or hate them. To be perfectly honest, I’ve never warmed to the ‘Firefly’ series, but them I’m probably in the minority in hailing his Lords of Salem as a horror masterpiece (check out my review here). But here he seems to be spoofing the exploitation genre with a knowing sadistic glee (think Robert Rodriguez’s Machete), which makes this latest entry in his saga so much more fun. An extra bonus are the OTT turns of some of his co-stars, especially Dee Wallace as a genuinely nasty butch prison guard (I had no idea it was Wallace until after the credits) and Panchor Moler as the loyal one-eyed Sebastian. Plus, you’ve got Sheri going full-on mental.
Zombie also has fun paying homage to some of his cinematic influences. The film starts off aping the TV news reports of the arrest of Charles Manson and his ‘Family’ (a key inspiration for the film’s psychopathic trio), but there are also nods to 1955’s The Desperate Hours, in which Humphrey Bogart and a gang of escaped convicts hold a family hostage, the 1952 classic Gary Cooper western, High Noon, and even Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1989 avant-garde horror Santa Sangre.
There’s also something very poignant on offer here, and that’s Sid Haig. Ill health prevented the legendary character actor from appearing in anything more than a cameo, so this ended up being his final screen role. He died, aged 80, on 21 September 2019, just over a month after receiving the Vincent Price Award at Hollywood Horrorfest (something that was truly dear to him). But he goes out with a bang, delivering a touching, raging and powerful monologue that’s eminently quotable: ‘I’m just a clown dancing for the fucking man’. ‘I am what they make me. I’m your bozo Jesus hung out to dry for the sins of mankind!’ So, if you are on the fence about watching another Rob Zombie movie, this is reason to check this film out.
3 From Hell is unleashed from Lionsgate UK on digital download, Blu-ray and DVD from 14 October
American Horror Project Vol. 2 | Arrow Video unleashes another trio of obscure stars-and-stripes terror flicks
I’ve finally got around to checking out Arrow Video’s second volume in its American Horror Project series, and its mixed, but fun, bag of obscurities co-curated by Stephen Thrower (Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents), which have all been remastered in 2k from the best surviving film elements. while the box-set is packed with a wealth of new and archival extras, including artwork by The Twins of Evil and a 60-page booklet.
DREAM NO EVIL
First up is this surreal 1970 offering from director John Hayes (Grave of the Vampire) about troubled preacher’s assistant Grace (Brooke Mills), whose desperate quest to be reunited with her long-lost father (Edmund O’Brien) propels her into an imaginary world of homicidal madness…
Part Jack Hill, Part Russ Meyer, part Psycho, this is one weird ride with Mills (who was also in Hill’s The Big Doll House) turning in a rather sympathetic turn as the demented Grace, who goes all Norman Bates when the father she has been searching for turns up dead in the local morgue. Imagining him to still be alive, she sets up home with him in a deserted shack on the outskirts of town, but soon her beaus are ending up dead because ‘daddy’ doesn’t like them touching her baby girl.
Among the supporting players are Hayes’ regular Michael Pataki (Zoltan, Hound of Dracula, Grave of the Vampire) as Grace’s revivalist preacher foster brother, character actor Marc Lawrence as the local mortician who is also a pimp, and former 1940s film noir star Edmond O’Brien, who comes off a bit like Lon Chaney Jr in Spider Baby (another Hill cult fave).
Best line in the movie: ‘Your duck is bleeding really badly’.
The Arrow special features also include…
• Filmed appreciation by Stephen Thrower
• Brand new audio commentary with Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan
• Hollywood After Dark: The Early Films of John Hayes, 1959-1971 – brand new video essay by Stephen Thrower looking at Hayes’ filmography leading up to Dream No Evil
• Writer Chris Poggiali on the prodigious career of celebrated character actor Edmond O’Brien
• Excerpts from an audio interview with actress Rue McClanahan (The Golden Girls) on working with director John Hayes.
This 1976 rural horror stars future Barney Miller actor JJ Barry as Sal, a New York illustrator who relocates to Stowe, Vermont, to set up a photography studio. But when he accidentally runs over and kills a young girl, her occultist grandfather places a curse on him. After a series of terrifying visions and mishaps, Dal seeks the counsel of local white witch Adrianna (Kim Hunter, of Planet of the Apes and A Streetcar Named Desire fame) — but can she stop the dark forces from achieving their goal?
Director Martin Goldman (who was previously a Madison Avenue art designer) and cinematographer Richard E Brooks (who went on to direct 1982’s We Will Rock You: Queen Live in Concert) bring a touch of cinema verité to their offbeat indie horror that features a lot of hand held camera and tracking shots, while also making effective use of the rural location. While I was baffled by the ending, there’s a real sense of creeping unease going on here; and Hunter is very convincing as the witch (It’s said she did lots of research into wiccan practices for role).
The Arrow special features also include…
• Filmed appreciation by Stephen Thrower
• Audio commentary with writer-director Martin Goldman
• Interview with Martin Goldman
• Interview with producer Marianne Kanter
• The Hills Are Alive: Dark August and Vermont Folk Horror – with author and artist Stephen R. Bissette
• Original Press Book
This 1977 bad seed horror is the best of the bunch in my book, and a delirious slice of horror mayhem. Laurel Barnett plays the new governess of bratty Rosalie (Rosalie Cole), who is so incensed by her mother’s death, she raises the dead from the local cemetery to lay siege on the family mansion…
I remember seeing the poster for this film in magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland when I was in my teens, but it never saw the light of day in my home town. 40 years on and I finally get to see it — and I was not disappointed. No wonder its a favourite of AHP curator Stephen Thrower — its totally bonkers. Cheap and silly, but oddly atmospheric — its like an ultra cheap fusion of Dark Shadows and The Innocents with ghouls (covered in blackened oatmeal) and some very bad acting.
This one was produced by that sultan of sexploitation, Harry Novak (who also unleashed Mantis in Lace and The Mad Butcher) and ends with a Night of the Living Dead meets Tombs of the Blind Dead-style life and death struggle in a local mill
‘I want to know who you were meeting in the cemetery?’
‘I don’t have to tell you anything!!!’
The Arrow special features also include…
• 1.37:1 and 1.85:1 presentations of the feature
• Filmed appreciation by Stephen Thrower
• Brand new audio commentary with director Robert Voskanian and producer Robert Dadashian, moderated by Stephen Thrower
• Brand new on-camera interviews with Robert Voskanian and Robert Dadashian
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Original Press Book
Shot in seven days, and running at just 62-minutes, 1944’s Voodoo Man was the last of Bela Lugosi’s nine Monogram b-movies. Originally based on a story called Tiger Man, the tale (from a screenplay by Return of the Ape Man‘s Robert Charles) of young women being kidnapped and turned into mute zombies in an attempt to resurrect a dead woman is basically a reworking of 1942’s The Corpse Vanishes with shades of 1932’s White Zombie, and was hatched to cash-in on the success of Jacques Tourneur’s classic horror I Walked with a Zombie, made the year before.
HIS LUST FOR VOODOOISM SPELLS D-O-O-M!
Lugosi plays Dr Marlowe, who is obsessed with bringing his wife back from the dead and has a total lack of empathy for the poor women he is using to achieve his goal. Whilst the film’s script is riddled with clichés, Lugosi brings total sincerity to his character, alternating nicely between menace and compassion. Along for the ride is another horror legend, George Zucco, who, when not manning the local petrol station, throws on a wizard’s cloak to become the voodoo cult leader who conducts the arcane rites in a bid to transfer the lifeforce of Marlowe’s latest victim into his beloved wife (Ellen Hall) – who looks pretty darn good despite being dead for 22 years.
The hokey set-up has Marlowe’s lackies, John Carradine (channelling Lon Chaney Jr’s Lenny from Of Mice and Men) and former pro-wrestling referee Pat McKee, set up fake road blocks so their victims drive straight into their hands. Unfortunately, one of the intended – Stella (Louise Currie) – is the cousin of a local girl Betty (Wanda McKay), who is about to marry a reporter, Ralph (Tod Andrews). Her disappearance sparks a desperate search, but there’s a twist, her ‘soul’ isn’t compatible – and guess whose is? Yep! Its Betty… and soon Marlowe has her in his clutches…
This is a passable horror melodrama, but really only entertaining for seeing Lugosi, Zucco and Carradine strut their stuff, especially Carradine – who gets all the best lines like ‘Hmm! You’re a pretty one!”. Director William Beaudine was prolific to say the least, with a career that stretched seven decades resulting in some 500 film and TV titles to his credit. And here’s a great bit of trivia – both Lugosi and Andrews are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery, in Culver City, California.
Although you can see Voodoo Man on YouTube, in a crappy version, the print on Fabulous Film’s Blu-ray and DVD release is excellent and is region free. What would be great now is a box-set of all those Lugosi Monogram features. How about it FF?
This 1978 British horror from Return of the Jedi director Richard Marquand fuses that mystery staple, the old dark house – seen in many a classic, including James Whale’s 1932 whodunit and the long-running Agatha Christie play on London’s West End, The Mousetrap – with the in-vogue satanic frighteners of the day like The Omen and Race With the Devil.
Katharine Ross and Sam Elliott (who later married after meeting on the set) play an American couple who become reluctant guests at the English country mansion of a dying Satanist (John Standing) who believes Ross to be the reincarnation of an ancestor and next in line to head his powerful cult. But standing in her way are five house guests, who soon meet with spectacular deaths including drowning, burning, impaling and a botched tracheotomy.
The cast boasts some famous faces, including The Who’s Roger Daltrey, playing a music impresario – of course; Charles Gray (still my favourite Blofeld) as a weapons dealer; and West End actress Margaret Tyzack (who’d go on to play Bianca and Ricky’s gran in EastEnders) as a nurse who can turn herself into a white cat.
With its themes of reincarnation, possession and telekinesis, The Legacy – which was written by the legendary Jimmy Sangster – follows in the wake of other occult-themed films like The Omen and Suspiria, and was very much inspired by them. While it’s no masterpiece, and didn’t catch the box-office alight – unlike Gray’s character, it’s still a stylish exercise in suspense with some decent special effects, crisp autumnal photography by Dick Bush and Alan Hume, and an ‘eccentric’ score from Theatre of Blood composer Michael J Lewis, who also wrote the annoying theme tune, Another Side of Me (sung by Kiki Dee).
Today you can visit the film’s main location, Loseley Manor in Surrey, as the house and gardens are open to the public all year round. But if you do, watch out for any suspicious-looking nurses lurking about. Meanwhile, the village scenes were shot in Hambleden, Bucks – which has been used for huge number of films and TV shows, from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Good Omens.
The Indicator Limited Edition Blu-ray (UK premiere) is available from 29 July and includes the following special features…
• The UK theatrical cut, presented open matte from a Standard Definition master (102 mins): The film was released in UK cinemas in September 1978.
• The US theatrical cut, presented in widescreen from a High Definition master (100 mins): The film was released in the US in 1979, with a shorter runtime and some alternative shots
• Original stereo audio
• An Extended Legacy (2019, 11 mins): an analysis of the differences between the US and UK cuts (This is found in the Play sub-menu): There 13 instances of unique footage across the two version – 12 in the UK cut and 1 in the UK cut.
• Audio commentary with Kevin Lyons, editor of The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film and Television website (I thoroughly enjoyed this, especially when Kevin discusses the filming locations and compares the screenplay with the the film’s paperback tie-in – which I have – and yes, I did go straight to page 183 to find out more about Charles Gray’s gruesome death)
• An Editing Legacy (2015, 14 mins): editor and second unit director Anne V Coates recalls her work on the film (this one is ported over from the Scream Factory release)
• The Make-up Effects of The Legacy (2015, 11 mins): Robin Grantham on his make-up creations for the film, including that squrim-inducing tracheotomy (also ported over from Scream Factory)
• Ashes and Crashes (2019, 4 mins): interview with second unit director Joe Marks, who shares his memories of working with the film’s cast and crew (this one was shot for this release)
• Between the Anvil and the Hammer (1973, 27 mins): Richard Marquand’s Central Office of Information short about the Liverpool police force (this is a real eye-opener — and an historic step back in time — when it really was grim up North)
• Theatrical trailer
• Image gallery
• Collector’s booklet with a new essay by Julian Upton, an archival location report, Jimmy Sangster on The Legacy, extracts from the novelisation, an overview of critical responses, an introduction to Between the Anvil and the Hammer, and film credits
When teenage thieves Caspar (Sam Strike), Iris (Virginia Gardner) and Dodge (Brandon Micheal Hall) infiltrate a mansion dinner party, they have plans for pulling off an easy heist. Little do they know that the dinner party is actually being hosted by for a group of recovering serial killers. Once the mansion owners realise they are about to be robbed, all hell breaks loose…
Each of our would-be thieves have their reasons for attempting one last heist to ensure a better life, but not even the best of intentions will save them from the party’s killer line-up. John Wick regular Lance Reddick carries a remarkable gravitas as the ‘recovering’ murderers’ de facto leader, YouTuber-turned-actor Kian Lawley’s cranks up a disturbing turn as the sleazy son, and Charmed‘s Julian McMahon has a whole lot of scenery-chewing fun as the family patriarch.
From the energetic camerawork and music to some imaginative feats of bloody ultra violence and the lashings of black humour, Killer Party is an event to die for!
Out on DVD and Blu-ray 27 May 2019 from Altitude Film Entertainment
Twenty years after David Cronenberg prophesied the dark side of the Internet age in Videodrome, acclaimed French filmmaker Olivier Assayas (Irma Vep) updated it for the New Millennium in his startlingly prescient 2002 thriller Demonlover, a chilling exploration of the nexus between sex and violence available at the click of a button.
Up-and-coming executive Diane (Connie Nielsen) lets nothing stand in her way when it comes to landing the lucrative Tokyo Anime contract for the Volf Corporation, guaranteeing worldwide exclusive rights to the latest in cutting-edge hentai.
Despised by her assistant (Chloë Sevigny) and engaged in a risky game of corporate espionage, her ruthless ambition meets its match in Elaine (Gina Gershon), the charismatic representative of an American Internet porn company called Demonlover.
However, the company is only the front for an online portal to the Hellfire Club, which gives its users control over the next big thing in interactive extreme pornography: real women, tortured according to subscribers’ whims, in real time.
Diane wants a piece of the action, and will stop at nothing to get it; but as she delves deeper into the twisted world of the Hellfire Club, reality slips away and the stakes of the game are raised to the point of no return.
Armed with a pounding score by Sonic Youth, Assayas’ neo-noir/cyber horror is finally unleashed for the first time on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy, with revealing extras and a new director-approved restoration.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration of the 121-minute director’s cut, approved by Olivier Assayas
• High Definition Blu-Ray (1080p) presentation
• Original 5.1 DTS-HD master audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Audio commentary by writer/director Olivier Assayas
• New visual essay written and narrated by critic Jonathan Romney
• Peripherie de Demonlover: Behind-the-scenes documentary directed by Yorick Le Saux
• Archive interviews with Olivier Assayas, Connie Nielsen, Chloë Sevigny and Charles Berling
• SY NYC 12/12/01: The Demonlover Sessions: a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the recording of the music score by Sonic Youth
• Q&A with Olivier Assayas filmed at the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2003
• Extended version of the Hellfire Club sequence
• Original theatrical trailers
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Chris Malbon
• FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anne Billson
The Haunted House of Horror | Fancy a seance and an orgy with Frankie Avalon? Well you’ve got the wrong address!
At a ‘swinging’ London party, a group of bored teenagers decide they want a new ‘experience’, so Richard (Julian Barnes) suggests they head to a deserted mansion where an infamous murder took place. But during their ‘ghost hunt’, one of their number ends up brutally stabbed to death. Hiding the body, the gang decide not to tell the police, which turns out to be a really bad move. As guilt gets the better of them, they decide the only solution is to return to the scene of the crime…
Oh dear! This dated 1960s Tigon/AIP horror is embarrassingly bad, yet bizarrely enjoyable for its kitsch value. Beach Party‘s Frankie Avalon swaps his shorts and surfboard for some Carnaby Street clobber as the jaded group’s nominal leader. But he looks way older than his character should be, and practically dials in his performance. But he’s certainly not as stiff as Dennis Price (a last minute replacement for an ailing Boris Karloff), whose police inspector does little more than take phone calls. Among the dolly birds and male model supporting cast are future sitcom stars Richard O’Sullivan and Robin Stewart, pop singer Mark Wynter, and actress Jill Haworth (who ended up in Tower of Evil and The Mutations).
For fans of vintage British horror, you either love or hate this deeply-flawed attempt by Tigon to craft what is probably the UK’s first teen slasher, and its production history is certainly way more interesting than the film itself. Originally called The Dark, it was based on an original screenplay by 23-year-old Michael Armstrong, who also got to direct until he was removed by Tigon’s AIP co-producers, who demanded cuts, script changes and reshoots, to the point that the finished product looked nothing like what Armstrong had originally intended (he want to make a satire on the youth scene). Hence why George Sewell’s scenes look like they come from another movie. They were added to make up the running time after big cuts were made, which got rid of a homosexual subplot and other more interesting elements.
The restoration, however, is impressive as it really highlights the effective camerawork and lighting, particularly so in the mansion scenes (shot on location at the Birkdale Palace Hotel in Southport, but using sets constructed to look battered and aged). There’s so much more detail now and the colours really pop (especially in the cast’s trendy attire). Check out the clip below about the restoration work (But BIG spoiler alert! The killer is revealed).
While the film ended up generating good returns (especially when it was released in the US as Horror House on a double-bill with Crimson Cult – aka Curse of the Crimson Cult) it’s a real pity its a dog’s dinner of a thriller. But one can only imagine how it could have turned out had Armstrong had achieved his original concept with his dream cast of David Bowie, Scott Walker, Ian Ogilvy and Jane Merrow. If you want to read Armstrong’s original screenplay for The Dark, you purchase it from Paper Dragon Productions for £13.99. Just click on the link.
The Haunted House of Horror is available on Blu-ray in the UK from Screenbound
• Commentary and a new interview with director Michael Armstrong
• Interview clips with Michael Armstrong, actors Mark Wynter, Carol Dilworth and Veronica Doran; plus hair stylist Ross Carver, camera operator James Devis, production secretary Jeanette Ferber, dubbing editor Howard Lanning and editor Peter Pitt.
The murderous marionettes are back as Fangoria presents their ultraviolent reboot of Charles Band’s Puppet Master horror franchise, The Littlest Reich, from directors Tommy Wiklund and Sonny Laguna.
When divorced comic book writer/store clerk Edgar (Reno 911!’s Thomas Lennon) finds one of the infamous Toulon Blade puppets in mint condition at his family home, he decides to sell it for some quick cash. New girlfriend Ashley (Jenny Pellicer) and nerdy pal Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) join Edgar as he heads to Oregon for an auction being held in the mansion where the infamous Toulon Murders took place 30 years previously.
But when the puppets are reanimated and start targeting ‘undesirables’, the trio team up with a security officer (Barbara Crampton) and a clueless cop (Michael Pare) to draw the puppets from out of the shadows to take them down…
The political satire may be as subtle as one of Donald Trump’s speeches, and the acting questionable, but the cartoon gore is a whole lotta fun and wonderfully offensive. A gypsy guy has his head chopped off while taking a leak, and ends up pissing on his own head; a Jewish couple get barbecued alive; and a black woman has her unborn foetus ripped from her stomach. But the OTT carnage really gets going when the toy shelf Nazis launch their all-out attack on the mansion…
Joining old favourites, Blade, Tunneler, Torch (aka Kaiser) and Pinhead, in this 13th-entry are seven new deadly dolls, including Junior Fuhrer, a diaper-wearing baby doll with the face of Adolf Hitler, who takes possession of a blonde German muscle dude by ripping open his back and crawling inside so he can operate him like a real-life puppet. But the Nazi nipper does get his comeuppance when Markowitz throws him into an oven.
With a neat (though short) cameo from Udo Keir (as Andre Toulon), a terrific score from the legendary Fabio Frizzi and an ending that hints at the franchise’s return, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a bloody, silly, fun ride indeed.
Out in selected UK cinemas from 19 April 2019
THE GREEN INFERNO: CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST 2 (1988)
For years fans waited for the release of a sequel to Ruggero Deodato’s trendsetting Cannibal Holocaust, yet it would take almost a decade for The Green Inferno, also known as Cannibal Holocaust 2, to arrive… and it wasn’t what followers of the Italian cannibal cycle were expecting.
A group of enterprising adventurers venture into the Amazon jungle in search of a missing professor but soon the youngsters encounter more than they bargained for – European colonialism is exploiting the rainforest and the natives are fighting back! While Deodato’s original critiqued the mondo pseudo-documentary phenomenon, here director Antonio Climati (Mondo Cane, Savage Man, Savage Beast) turns the focus to satirising the hypocrisy and complexity of Cannibal Holocaust itself. A potent mix of macabre imagery, scenic locations, extreme gore and sly in-jokes, The Green Inferno is the gut-munching sequel you always knew you wanted but were too afraid to ask for!
• Brand new 2K remaster from the original camera negative in 1.66:1 OAR
• Extensive clean-up and colour correction carried out in the UK
• Remastered uncompressed English audio
• Remastered uncompressed Italian audio with newly translated subtitles
• ‘Scenes From Banned Alive: The Rise and Fall of Italian Cannibal Movies’. Ruggero Deodato, Umberto Lenzi and Sergio Martino discuss their notorious cannibal films, including The Man From Deep River, Cannibal Ferox, Cannibal Holocaust and The Mountain of the Cannibal God
• Italian opening and closing credits
• Remastered trailer
CANNIBAL TERROR (1981)
First there was Cannibal Holocaust… Then came Cannibal Ferox … But somewhere in France, someone was already hatching a plot to cash-in on the Italian intestinal classics with Cannibal Terror. With no budget, no professional actors and no flights to Amazonia, Cannibal Terror instead gives us Deodato and Lenzi on a cash-strapped level and the end result is The Room of cannibal movies! Brilliant and blood-soaked late night entertainment, Cannibal Terror was one of the UK’s infamous ‘video nasties’ – showing that our beloved censors have little in the way of a sense of humour! However, this torrid tale of stranded tourists being hunted by hungry natives is a work of demented genius from director Alain Deruelle that words can barely do service to. Prepare to feast your eyes on Cannibal Terror!
• Limited edition o-card slipcase [first print run only]
• Limited edition collectors’ booklet by Calum Waddell [first print run only]
• High definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Uncompressed English audio
• Optional English subtitles
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• ‘That’s Not The Amazon! – The Strange Story of the Eurocine Cannibal Film Cycle’
• Deleted scene
• Theatrical trailer
88 Films presents The Green Inferno: Cannibal Holocaust 2 and Cannibal Terror on Blu-ray 11 March 2019
Troubled fashion model Alison Parker (Nashville‘s Cristina Raines), with a history of suicidal tendencies, rents an apartment in an old Brooklyn brownstone, where a mute blind priest, Father Halliran (John Carradine), sits all day and night beside an upstairs window.
After meeting the other tenants, including the overly-friendly Charles Chazen (Burgess Meredith) and Bohemian lesbian couple, Gerde (Sylvia Miles) and Sandra (Beverly D’Angelo), Alison begins having bouts of insomnia caused by strange late-night sounds coming from the apartment above hers and terrible dreams about murdering her recently deceased father.
But when she complains to her real-estate agent, Miss Logan (Ava Gardner) about the noises, Alison learns that there are no neighbours in the property except herself and the priest. Oh dear!
Worried that she might be loosing her mind, Alison turns to her lawyer boyfriend Michael (Chris Sarandon) for help, and then sets out to investigate on her own. Digging through the building’s past, she is shocked to learn that it guards the gates to Hell and that she has been chosen by a secret group of Catholic priests to be the next sentinel…
Riding the satanic horror wave of the Seventies, The Sentinel is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Jeffrey Konvitz, who adapted it for the screen and acted as producer alongside director Michael Winner.
Damned by critics on its release as being ‘grubby and grotesque’, Winner’s only attempt at the horror genre is certainly not up to par with the likes of Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist and The Omen, but its perversely entertaining with some unsettling set pieces, cheesy dialogue and noteworthy performances from its A-list cast. Plus, the special effects and Gille Mellé score are a winning combo, along with the 1970s stylings and New York City locations.
Burgess Meredith, who scored a Oscar nod for his stand-out turn in Rocky the previous year, really goes to town as one of the damned inhabitants, as does Eli Wallach as a shouty detective, whose sidekick is a young Christopher Walken. And among the other familiar faces are José Ferrer, Martin Balsam, Arthur Kennedy, Deborah Raffin and Jeff Goldblum.
The shocks are few, but genuinely frightening: especially Alison fighting off her naked rotting dead dad, the lesbian couple having a cannibalistic late night supper, and the hellish finale in which Winner ‘exploitatively’ uses real people with physical deformities to play the demonic creatures trying to prevent Alison from fulfilling her destiny. But for me, the really gross-out scene is when Beverly D’Angelo pleasures herself in front of an embarrassed Alison.
The Final Cut Entertainment Region 2 DVD (released on 23 November 2018) features an OK print of the film, but no extras.
DID YOU KNOW?
Alison’s Brooklyn brownstone was never knocked down as seen in the closing scenes of the film. It is in fact one of the grandest mansions in Brooklyn Heights, and is located at 10 Montague Terrace.
Nestled in a quiet corner right off the Promenade that runs between Brooklyn Bridge and Atlantic Avenue, the historic 1900 building is distinctive for its dramatic facade, magnificently detailed mahogany woodwork and other original details throughout.
Today, it has been renovated into a number of luxury apartments. One went for around $1.15m in April this year, while another was on offer for $1.8m.