Walter Mencken 1 p.m., May 1
Cult Movie Reviews: Andy Warhol's Bad & The Sentinel
IMDB synopsis: - A fashion model moves into a house inhabited (on the top floor) by a blind priest. She begins having strange physical problems, 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, but finds out 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.
Boy, 1977's The Sentinel is better than I remembered. When I saw it new in theaters as a young teen, I didn't have the patience for the very gradual buildup, and I don't even remember most of the flick.
It was a treat to finally re-watch, and see so many later stars like Chris Walken, Jeff Goldblum, and Beverly D'Angelo, not to mention old Hollywood faves like Burgess Meredith, Ava Gardner, and John Carradine.
It's odd how the forces of God are shown to be just as creepy and evil looking as the forces of Satan, and how both are equally uncaring about what they do to innocent humans in order to maintain the cosmic stalemate at Hell's gate.
One thing confused me, tho - were the previous Sentinels murderers, which seemed to be indicated? If so, what did the poor new girl do to deserve the crappy Sentinel gig? It was her boyfriend who allegedly had someone murdered.
Then again [spoiler alert], the boyfriend also gets killed and zombie-fied, so perhaps the murderers get "sentenced" to hang around the gate, while some innocent is forced to commit suicide and man the gate itself.
I'm also confused about why sentinels need to retire and be replaced. If they kill themselves first in order to work the gig, do they keep aging and "die" again anyway? The film suggested several sentinels had served over just a few generations.
Anyway, lovable old Burgess Meredith was great in full creepy mode, and (very) old John Carradine was about as scary as I've ever seen! It was an unexpected treat to watch this again so many years later.
IMDB synopsis: Hazel (Carol Baker) runs a beauty salon out of her house, but makes extra money by providing ruthless women to do hit jobs. K.T. is a parasite, and contacts Hazel looking for work when he runs out of money. She is reluctant to use him for a hit, since she prefers using women, but decides to try him on a trial basis. Meanwhile, the local cop she pays off wants an arrest to make it look like he's actually doing his job, but she doesn't want to sacrifice any of her "associates." Several other side plots are woven in, populated with characters from the sleazy side of life.
Since I was already in a mid-'70s mood after watching the Sentinel, I finally watched Andy Warhol's Bad, from 1977. Yikes! Felt like I needed a shower when it was done.
It reminded me a bit of early John Waters, but with more bitter and less sweet. I almost turned it off a few times; I especially can't handle violence against animals, but then I'd catch some of the great Mike Bloomfield music, or hear a great line of dialogue, and decide to stick it out.
I've seen Carroll Baker from the original Lolita get pretty scuzzy in other movies late in her career, but this one was a shocker. And what a trip to see Susan Tyrell, who I just recently watched in the early Oingo Boingo brothers cult flick Forbidden Zone, as the lone "good guy" in the whole flick.
[Spoiler alert] Well, at least until she drops her mongoloid baby in shock from finding Baker's corpse.
I think I get what the movie is saying RE rampant (& seemingly contagious) immorality overtaking both decency and sanity, especially circa '77 NYC (a cesspool indeed). However, I find like-minded movies such as Jules Feiffer's Little Murders, the anti-Hollywood Day of the Locust, those cynical Death Wish and Magnum Force/Dirty Harry movies, and even The Warriors were far less abhorrent (and less aberrant) in the way they portrayed the psycho decline of both civility and civilization.
"Field Of Screens" -- Cover story 7-6-06: Complete theater-by-theater history of San Diego drive-ins thru the years, including interviews with operators and attendees, dozens of rare and unpublished photos, vintage local theater ads, and more. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...
"Before It Was The Gaslamp: Balboa's Last Stand" -- Cover story 6-21-07: In the late 70s/early 80s, I worked at downtown San Diego's grindhouse all-night movie theaters. This detailed feature recalls those dayz, the death of the Balboa Theatre, etc., including interviews with operators, vintage local movie ads, and more. http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...
"Pussycat Theaters: When 'Cathouses Ruled California" -- for the first time, the inside story of the west coast Pussycat Theater chain of adult moviehouses, which peaked in the '70s but later died out. Company head Vince Miranda owned and lived part time at the Hotel San Diego, operating several other local theaters downtown and in Oceanside, Escondido, etc. Told by those who actually ran the theaters, with a complete theater-by-theater encyclopedia covering every Pussycat that ever screened in CA -- http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...
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