With The Sentinel, Michael Winner collaborates with author Jeffrey Konvitz on an adaptation of Konvitzs 1975 novel. Konvitz was reportedly not happy with the result but he can hardly complain as it was not a particularly good or even subtle novel in the first place. It is a morally heavy-handed Catholic horror story revelling in eternal damnation without hope for suicides, lesbians and murderers. (With even less taste, Michael Winner employs real human deformities to portray some of the damned unleashed from Hell at the climax). In better hands, the story might have been made intriguing but Michael Winner only emphasizes how little sense the mystery makes. Expectedly, Winners style is crude and unsophisticated and fails to conjure anything remotely scary out of the film. The middle of the film slows down when the plot changes tracks from a haunted house story to a metaphysical detective story.
The performances are not particularly good Cristina Raines is reasonably solid in a limited role. In a mustache and looking all of about 20, a young and petulant Chris Sarandon looks positively Hispanic as her boyfriend. Ava Gardner gives a typically campy eye-batting performance, although is out-acted by Eli Wallach, grinning and smirking like a monkey on laughing gas, in his role as a detective.
Jeffrey Konvitz had previously written the B-budget psycho-thriller Silent Night, Bloody Night (1973) and wrote/produced the summer camp comedy Gorp (1980). Nowadays, he has retired from novel writing and produces films such as the Cyberpunk film Cyborg2: Glass Shadow (1993), the spy spoof Spy Hard (1996) and the incredibly lame spoof 2001: A Space Travesty (2001).
Full film available online here:-