Overwatch (The Sentinel, 1977)

The_Sentinel_PosterModel Alison Parker is looking to get a bit of space in her relationship with lawyer Michael. Her apartment search leads to an old building with furnished apartments that affordable.

After moving in she starts to have fainting spells while on photo shoots. She is also getting to know her rather eccentric neighbors. There is Charles, who tells her about the other tenants, Gerde and Sandra and the old priest they never see who lives upstairs.

In one very uncomfortable scene, Sandra starts masturbating as Alison tries to avoid watching. This scene is as awkward for the viewer as much as Alison. The police are investigating Alison’s situation, with an eye on her boyfriend, who they suspect may have killed his wife. MeanwhileMichael is looking into her neighbors and makes a disturbing discovery…but not quite as disturbing as the one Alison makes when speaking with the woman who showed her the apartment. She and the priest are the only two occupants.

Michael Winner, director of several Charles Bronson films (including the first three Death Wish movies) both wrote and directed this supernatural thriller. And it is pretty good.  The film has some genuinely solid scares. In one scene, Christina is walking through her building in the dark when suddenly a creepy pale and neatly naked figure walks past her unexpectedly.  She is horrified to realize it is her abusive father, who is recently deceased.

The film is a bit infamous for using people with very real deformities in the grand finale, and while it is startling, it also feels incredibly exploitive. Burgess Meredith make a fine creepy old guy who seems harmless and kind (if odd) when we first meet, only to discover he had sinister and cruel motives all along.

The film is also kind of notable for early film roles for Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Walken.

Winner has created a (very) minor horror classic in the vein of an old haunted house movie. It has some real chills and has a rather interesting ending.

The Revenge of Blood Cult (Revenge, 1986)

revengeThis sequel picks up where we left off…the Sheriff’s daughter jumped off a roof…and apparently the Sheriff has lost his marbles.  How do I know?  The Deputy states this twice.

A reporter asks if this was a work of a Blood Cult.  Let me rephrase that… a really stupid reporter asks if this was a work of a Blood Cult.  I know she is stupid because she jumps into a car with the leader of the Blood Cult.  He was brushing her off until she asked about the Blood Cult, then he asked her if she wanted to join him in the car.   When does she catch on? After the leader hands her an amulet and asks leading questions about how much she knows?  No.  After he drives past her stop?  No.  After he makes a cryptic comment about her having trouble convincing her editor?  No.  After he drives down a Dark Alley?  No.  After a cop asks her to step out of the car?  No.  After said cop stabs her in the Dark Alley?  Yes.

Roll Credits!

The first thing I noticed?  This actually looks like it was filmed traditionally.  No video cameras.  It instantly seems classier.

The old couple with the headless dog from the last movie have a new dog.  A little cockapoo or something.  No one ones to behead one of those yapping little dogs.  Anyways, they hear noises in their sheds.  Then the Blood Cult kills them.  Apparently, the title Revenge refers to the Blood Cult is going to go after all the people who wronged them.  This leads to five minutes of aerial shots following a car driving to a cemetery.

This movie has John Carradine.  That does not necessarily mean anything.  But I thought it was noteworthy.  But this follows the same M.O. as the last one.  Killer chops people up.  They die of stab wounds and blood loss.  One memorable kill?  A guy on a motor cross bike takes out a pickup truck.  I think.  The scene just ends, and we go to the Sheriff, who lost his marbles, and the proof?  He speaks to invisible Senators taking a stand against dogs.

Best moment?  Government employees complaining about the Blood Cult’s screening policies.  That and they are running out of Monk Robes.

Dean Beatty:”I joined this cult for the advances and the advantages you promised me.  Not to be a party to some sort of Murder Incorporated!”

Senator:”Hell’s bells, Beatty…you think you’re the only one who wants to get ahead in this world?”

Then they kill the Dean for denying the god Caninus.  Then we learn that the guy on the motorbike did not actually kill the person in the truck, because she is safe at home…until she starts getting hang up calls.  The Motorbike guy shows up again at the farm and the old lady scares him away, because it really pisses her off when he starts to pop a wheelie on the lawn.

We then get fifteen minutes of teens necking in the hot tub before the boy pulls out a really big knife and stabs the girl to death.  This leads to a great scene where a guy discovers the body and calls in the murder with a fake french accent.

At the big Caninus meeting in the woods they prepare a sacrifice.  They are raising their leader from the dead to lead an army to destroy the unbelievers.  They went on to form Al Queda.  They create an evil warrior out of the sister of one of the heroes.  She is an unstoppable warrior, but she sure is not pretty.  The old lady shoots a log which causes a series of explosions that scares away most of the cult member and causes the indestructible warrior to…vanish.  This leaves the local Doctor by himself, until they shoot him and he ceases to exist.  But then we learn that one of the heroes is actually a member of the cult and he suckered the old lady into helping he and the Senator get rid of the Doctor .  But the Old Lady doesn’t give in to the Cult’s temptations and shoots the two final cult members dead…or DID she???

“Thanks for being such a classy sister.”  Yeah…the writing has not improved.  The acting is slightly better.  The film making is completely static.  We still get ten minute shots from one perspective.  Missing, however, is all that damn narration…this is mostly due to the fact that the Sheriff lost his marbles and is utterly useless as a narrator.  In the end?  This was a pretty pathetic offering.  Maybe it is a little better than the first one…but we call that damning with faint praise.

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