Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Legacy and The Sentinel (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - Occulty Goodness Just in Time for October

With the recent resurgence of occult and demonic Horror en vogue there are two classic Horror titles being released by Scream Factory that are must watches to get yourself truly immersed in a time honored tradition as popular now as it was in the late 60’s and early 70’s. The Legacy and The Sentinel are the two titles in question. Both are highly worth your time and I actually want to talk about both of them today because I find the common nexus in the occult to be worth of a double feature review. Keep in mind these are standalone titles. You buy them separately and we will include links to both. Interestingly enough, both pictures are based on successful novels.

Let’s talk about The Legacy first.

This is the second time we are seeing the extra fine, super rugged Sam Elliot in a Horror picture as featured by Scream Factory; the other of which is Frogs released during the Summer of Fear. If there’s one thing you can be assured of it’s that he plays a bad ass from the southwest who pretty much takes no prisoners, will not be confined by religious dogma and is as resourceful as he is foolhardy (meant in the best way possible I assure you).  I love his character in this even if he isn’t the lead in the picture. I suppose I’ve grown a great deal of affection for his style since enjoying him so thoroughly in The Big Lebowski (among others). It’s worth a mention that anyone who enjoys Elliot’s work is sure to fine a one-liner or two to help you be the best shit-kicker you can be.

That being said, Katherine Ross is a pawn in a strange game of mysterious, supernatural chess of which is she only partially the victim and mostly, the aggressor; she just doesn’t know it yet. While I would hesitate to unfold the story before you, spoiling it for you, I want you to understand that things are not as they seem when Ross and Elliot get into a motorcycle accident (that should damn well have killed them) and are taken into a local mansion for some “hospitality”.

Perhaps the defining trait in The Legacy is that it does not immediately succumb to many of the tropes of other occult related pictures. It isn’t overly gratuitous with just a handful of suggested scenes. It isn’t overly gory or violent though people are regularly offed in unusual and almost comedic ways. You have Roger Daltry make an appearance (ever so briefly) and he’s actually quite good. For a movie that focuses on the powers of the Satanic or demonic (we don’t know what they’re really shooting for here) the images of cloven hooved guys painted red with giant horns are completely absent. I like to think of The Legacy as an add on to Hammer’s Devil Rides Out, lite with a less to terrify and more to entice.

The Legacy features traditional, beautiful cover art and nice extra package featuring a couple of interviews and the standard run of trailers and spots. It’s great for the fan, perfect for the newbie and an excellent release of an often overlooked title. Those of us familiar with the VHS box at the store are glad to see if get a digital restoration. It’s a fine looking transfer especially for a somewhat dark movie.

The Legacy pairs nicely with Devil’s Rain, Devil Rides Out, Rosemary’s Baby or… the second half of our double feature review, The Sentinel. I’m almost surprised that Scream Factory didn’t put them on a double feature package. Make sure to grab this for October. It’s somewhat slow but filled with special moments packed with moderate humor and suspenseful occulty goodness.

From Scream Factory:

Evil Beyond Exorcism...

How far would you go to inherit everlasting life? When Margaret (Katharine Ross, The Stepford Wives) and her boyfriend Pete (Sam Elliot, Frogs, Road House) have a car accident in the English countryside, the other driver offers to take them to his lavish country estate to make amends. But once there, they are surprised to learn that all of the other houseguests are already expecting them! It's not long before the couple's fear turns into terror when the guests (including Roger Daltrey, Tommy) begin dying in unspeakable ways. Now it's clear, the true master of the house is a supernatural force that will stop at nothing to find the rightful heirs for an unimaginably horrible legacy.

Bonus Features

NEW HD Transfer From The Interpositive
NEW Interview With Academy Award Winning Film Editor Anne V. Coates (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA)
NEW Interview With Special Effects Artist Robin Grantham
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spot
Radio Spot
Photo Gallery

You can order The Legacy now from Scream Factory:

Now on to The Sentinel.

When I was a kid I had the privilege of reading the novel of The Sentinel before seeing the movie. I picked it up with Burnt Offerings, Rosemary’s Baby and Slugs at a book store in Delaware one summer. I was familiar with the cover and poster art, but I didn’t get to see the movie until many years later. I remember the novel being filthy and dark with hints of the great devil looking on every page with the perfect balance of supernatural, freak show, ghost story and a true battle of good and evil. Let us be clear that this picture belongs among the great occult films of the 60’s and 70’s. The Omen. The Exorcist. Rosemary’s Baby. These are names you know, and you should know them well, but you should also know The Sentinel for its star power, tremendously dark vision of the gateway to Hell (no matter how subdued and because it’s a movie that feels like it could happen to you.

In re-enjoying this picture I was reminded of friends of mine that lived in Brooklyn for many years. We would go to visit them in a rather large, rundown apartment building. We never saw their neighbors but they would always seem to lurk around the corner or in the shadows. There’s a feeling of dread in a building of that kind and age. The oldness of the walls and the smell of the roach motels. It’s a powerful experience late at night, returning from a show in Manhattan with booze and pizza filling the air only to hear the sound of pure nothing. In a city so large, the halls felt like a gateway alright. I take all of these emotions and the memory of that time and lurch it into the emotive experience I have while enjoying The Sentinel.

It’s a bleak picture with little hope for humanity. Will the force of true evil win and will the obvious gateway to Hell be as opened as the 7 Doors Motel in Louisiana? Christina Raines plays a strong character in Alison Parker who may be naïve but she will not be bullied. Watch her play of the ghostly and erotically nightmarish voyeuristic lesbians including Beverly D’Angelo is a test of will for the viewer as much as it is for her character. If that sentence doesn’t entice you into watching this picture allow the performance of Burgess Meredith as the friendly, keeper of the almighty Hades to bring you inside for birthday cake. Meredith is a charming man; as charming as Satan himself. It’s a wonder that we didn’t get to see him in more Horror picture with his strong background in The Twilight Zone and his exquisite performance in Magic.

I love this picture. I want you to love its strangeness and fear inducing darkness that haunts of the shadows in the basis of reality that feels like your next rental could be a casual suicide away from the end of times.

The is a beautiful transfer with traditional cover art. You get the trailers and stills of course, but you also get new commentary tracks from our leading lady, the writer of the original novel and one with the writer of the actual movie. The director Ralph Singleton is also interviewed. It’s a nice package for a movie that is definitely not as obscure as The Legacy, but has never reached the bawdy heights of the Friedkin or Polanski devil pictures.

You can pair this with The Legacy of course. That’s why I wanted to put them together, but consider also offering it a double feature with a 70’s creature feature like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark or perhaps even the Empire classic, Troll. There’s something about moving into a new place and finding out that it’s the gateway to Hell. Of course The Beyond would be also make a fantastic double feature with The Sentinel. You can also stick to the Burgess Meredith double and watch it alongside Magic (as previously mentioned).

Enjoy this truly devilish film. If you live in a rented out New York brownstone… make sure you know every single one of your neighbors and have their references verified before viewing. Scream Factory delivers scares from Hell just in time for Halloween.

From Scream Factory:

When a beautiful model, Alison Parker (Cristina Raines, Nashville, The Duellists), rents an apartment in a gloomy New York brownstone, little does she realize that an unspeakable horror awaits her behind its doors...a mysterious gateway to hell. Alison likes her eccentric new neighbors, so it comes as a shock when she's told that, except for a strange old priest, she's the only tenant.

Based on Jeffrey Konvitz's best-selling novel, this contemporary gothic chiller features amazing special makeup effects by the legendary Dick Smith (The Exorcist, Little Big Man) and an incredible assemblage of stars including Chris Sarandon, Ava Gardner, José Ferrer, John Carradine, Burgess Meredith, Beverly D'Angelo, Jerry Orbach, Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger and Christopher Walken. Director Michael Winner (Death Wish) comes up with something to terrify everyone in this spine-tingling exercise in supernatural horror.

Bonus Features

NEW 2015 High Definition Transfer Of The Film From The Interpositive
NEW Audio Commentary With Actress Cristina Raines
NEW Audio Commentary With Writer/Producer Jeffrey Konvitz
NEW Interview With Assistant Director Ralph S. Singleton
Audio Commentary With Writer/Producer/Director Michael Winner
Theatrical Trailer & TV Spots
Still Galleries – Movie Stills, Press Photos, Posters And Lobby Cards

You can order The Sentinel from Scream Factory:

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