The Gateway to Hell Is in Brooklyn!

Sometimes in life you find something really lovely.  And that something is 1977’s The Sentinel.

A young model fresh from a suicide attempt decides to leave the comfort of her boyfriend’s ulta-posh Manhattan apartment and head out on her own.  One assumes she is trying to prove herself, no?  She takes an apartment in Brooklyn Heights, and all manner of badness occurs.

Immediately after moving in, she meets the first neighbor (Hello Burgess Meredith.  I’ve missed you!) who walks about the apartment house with a canary on his shoulder and a surly black-and-white cat in his arms.  Charles Chazen (yes, that’s his name) soon becomes an annoying frequent visitor to our pretty little model’s apartment.  In fact, after a nasty bout with a “migraine” and what we can only assume is passing out, he comes to her apartment and forces her to come to birthday party–for his cat.  Yes, I think I would kill him at this point, too.

But, of course, he is not the only one living in the bulding.  It seems there is a pair of lesbians on one of the floors.  Normally, I would be all “Yippee!  Gays!”  But… um… this is weird.  One of them is Beverly D’Angelo.  Again, normally I would be “Yippee!  Mrs. Griswold!”  But again… um… this is weird.  Some mad old lady (Sylvia Miles) is her lover, and when she leaves the living room to get coffee for our pretty model and her girl, Bev starts doing the nasty to herself on the couch.  What?!?!?!  I don’t want to see that!  Except… of course, I do.  You know that part in Zack & Miri Make a Porno when Zack says, “I hate Rosie O’Donnell, but if someone said they had a video of her getting fucked stupid, I’d say, ‘Why the fuck aren’t we watching that right now?'”  Yeah?  Well, that’s kind of what it’s like when you’re giving the opportunity to watch Mrs. Griswold rub one out in front of this little model.

Moving on…

You see, at one point, our model saw her father (who dies at the start of the film) screwing two unfortunate-looking women in he and his wife’s bed.  And after he slaps her (sans clothing, y’all), she runs into the bathroom and slits her wrists with a razor.

Suicide attempt number one.

Well, Daddy isn’t quite as dead as we think.  Or is he?  Well, he decides to pay a visit to the apartment one night.  And dude, what happens with this is the only quality moment of gore.  And it’s pretty.  It’s so pretty.  I want to watch it again and again and again.

At some point, we find out that, in fact, no one but our model and a blind ole priest live in the building.  So what’s the story with the neighbors?  Well, I will let that be something you discover on your own.  And we also find out that there is some weird church conspiracy that takes suicidal people (well, very specific ones) and makes them guardians of the gates to Hell.  Well, um, yeah, I do really love Catholics.  We come up with the freakiest shit.

So I have given you a general plot that seems a bit convoluted.  Well, it is.  But that doesn’t make this movie any less enjoyable.  You see, everyone in the movie is actually really invested in making a film that looks and feels just right.  And that it does.  It’s pitch perfect in setting and tone.  And the actors are clearly actually interested in acting.

The film doesn’t rely on effects to work.  No, no.  It relies on a good solid concept (even if it is a little all over the map) and very motivated and talented cast members.

I’d give it and big fat 7.5 out of 10.

See trailer below.

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~ by acaseofyou12581 on February 7, 2010.

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