*½/**** Image B+ Sound B+ Extras B+
starring Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Martin Balsam, John Carradine
screenplay by Michael Winner and Jeffrey Konvitz, based on the novel by Konvitz
directed by Michael Winner
by Bryant Frazer Death Wish director Michael Winner tried his hand at a boilerplate horror flick with The Sentinel, another in the long-running cycle of American horror films that doubled as scary religious propaganda, with the faith of Catholic priests the last bulwark against harrowing incursions by Satan himself on our mortal realm. It's not a good movie, but it has a hell of a supporting cast--Christopher Walken, Eli Wallach, and Ava Gardner, just for starters--and that specific, vaguely gritty time-and-place authenticity that you could only get by shooting on location in New York City in the 1970s. For this type of genre piece, that ensures a small kind of immortality, but Winner, indifferently adapting a best-selling novel and barely directing a lead actress who hates him, brings to it a certain je ne sais quoi that pushes it over the line into the sleazeball hall of fame.