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The Sentinel

Movie poster by Bill Gold
Directed by Michael Winner
Written by Jeffrey Konvitz (novel/scr)
Michael Winner
Starring Chris Sarandon
Cristina Raines
Music by Gil Melle
Cinematography Richard C. Kratina
Editing by Bernard Gribble
Terry Rawlings
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) United States January 7, 1977
Running time 92 min.
Country  United States
Language English

The Sentinel is a 1977 horror film starring Chris Sarandon & Cristina Raines. It is based on the same-named novel by Jeffrey Konvitz who also co-wrote the screenplay with director Michael Winner. It is completely unrelated with the 2006 political thriller of the same name.



Alison Parker, a beautiful but severely neurotic fashion model (Raines) moves into a gorgeous Brooklyn brownstone house that has been divided into apartments. The house is inhabited on the top floor by a reclusive blind priest (Carradine) who spends all of his time sitting at his open window. Alison begins having strange physical problems, and has trouble sleeping at night, and has some nasty flashbacks of her attempted suicide. She complains to the real estate agent of the noise caused by her strange neighbors, only to be told that the house is only occupied by the priest and herself, and ultimately discovers that she has been put in the house for a reason. Things only become more unreal when she discovers that she and the neighbors are not the only inhabitants in the house, and the others may not be of this world.

It turns out that the building is owned by the Catholic church and is a gateway to hell. The blind priest is the guardian who ensures that the devils and archangels do not escape. It's time that a new guardian needed to be appointed and the church chose Alison as she had the perfect background, having attempted suicide twice during the past. Because of her attempted suicides, she is told that she must pay for her sins by becoming the next Sentinel, and by doing so, she will be allowed into Heaven.

In the climax of the film, Alison is confronted by Charles Chazen and all of the minions of Hell, including her boyfriend, Michael, who was damned to Hell for killing his wife. Alison is chased through the apartment while grotesque and deformed creatures follow her. She runs to the top floor and into Father Halliran's room where the demons corner her in. As they hand her a knife and she begins to commit suicide, Monsignor Franchino and Father Halliran enter the room, holding a cross in the air. They work their way through the hordes of demons and reach Alison, where they prevent her suicide. She takes the cross from Monsignor Franchino, and sits down in Father Halliran's chair, becoming a blind old nun similar to Father Halliran, sitting at the window for the rest of her life.

Shortly after, a wrecking ball is shown tearing down the Brownstone as Mrs. Logan, the realtor, attempts to persuade a young couple to move into the apartment. The brownstone has been torn down and replaced with a new, more modern apartment complex. The couple asks about the neighbors, and Mrs. Logan explains to them about the old, blind nun in the top room. The nun, Alison, is shown in the top window, and the movie ends.



  • The film became controversial when it was revealed the director used actual disfigured people and circus freaks to represent demons during the climax.
  • This film was #46 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.
  • Kate Jackson was first choice for the role of Alison Parker, but refused the script.
  • Universal Pictures had hoped to sign on Don Siegel as director, but Siegel ultimately turned the offer down due to his discomfort with the particular horror genre.
  • Tom Berenger (who would in star in The Big Chill and Platoon in the 1980s) and Nana Visitor (who would have a lead role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the 1990s and played Pamela Voorhees in the remake of Friday the 13th) make early appearances at the end as possible tenants looking at the apartment building.
  • This film is mentioned in the 1989 Tom Hanks film The 'Burbs (which was also distributed by Universal).

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