The Sentinel doesn’t have the best crit­i­cal rep­u­ta­tion but that doesn’t mean any­thing to the hor­ror fans who love it: they’re used to hav­ing their cho­sen fare treat­ed poor­ly by the crit­i­cal estab­lish­ment. Thus, it is per­fect fod­der for a spe­cial edi­tion, hav­ing inspired a devo­tion that lingers amongst the select­ed few. Those fans should thank their lucky stars because Scream Factory has brought the film to blu-ray and added a fist­ful of extras that take the view­er into the crazy cre­ation sto­ry behind the crazy onscreen sto­ry.

Sentin-bluIt all begins with a new trans­fer that has a nice vin­tage cel­lu­loid look, giv­ing an HD boost to the col­or and detail lev­els with­out any dig­i­tal tin­ker­ing. The orig­i­nal mono sound­track is pre­sent­ed in loss­less form and this pre­sen­ta­tion does well by this well-mixed straight­for­ward vin­tage track.

Scream Factory has not list­ed this as a full-on spe­cial edi­tion but it has a nice pack­age of extras nonethe­less. The heart of the bonus fea­tures is a set of three com­men­tary tracks. The first pairs novelist/producer Jeffrey Konvitz with mod­er­a­tor Nathaniel Thompson. Konvitz cov­ers a lot of ground, start­ing with the com­plex gen­e­sis behind the nov­el and film before mov­ing into pro­duc­tion sto­ries, includ­ing some dark­ly fun­ny tales of stu­dio shenani­gans and Michael Winner’s ego.

Thompson keeps the track focused by ask­ing good ques­tions that get Konvitz to reveal his far-rang­ing career, includ­ing sub­se­quent nov­els and his ear­ly screen­writ­ing cred­it Silent Night Bloody Night. It’s a com­pelling lis­ten for hor­ror fans who have ever won­dered about Konvitz’s career.

Sentin-03The next track is a solo effort by Winner him­self, tak­en from a pri­or European DVD release. He is irrev­er­ent and gos­sipy from the get-go, main­tain­ing a steady stream of com­ments as he shows off his infa­mous­ly com­bat­ive and ego­tis­ti­cal per­sona. He swoons over his old­er stars, defends his use of hand­i­capped peo­ple in the finale and man­ages to take bitchy pot­shots at Konvitz, Cristina Raines and Chris Sarandon (a vicious tale about Sarandon’s cast­ing has become infa­mous amongst com­men­tary track fans).

The third com­men­tary track fea­tures Raines along with blogger/moderator Shaun Chang. She talks about how she got the role as a result of being a Universal con­tract play­er and has nice things to say about every­body on set, with the notable of excep­tion of Sentin-04Winner. Chang is quite knowl­edge­able about her career and asks plen­ty of inter­est­ing ques­tions about her oth­er cred­its to fill out the dis­cus­sion. The two have a nice rap­port (there are lots of laughs) and it’s a fun lis­ten for fans who might want to know what the Sentinel expe­ri­ence was like from the actor’s per­spec­tive.

The major video-based extra on this title is a 24-min­ute chat with Ralph S. Singleton, who served as sec­ond assis­tant direc­tor and loca­tion scout on this film and Death Wish for Winner. After giv­ing some back­ground on how he worked his way up the crew lad­der, he gets into the nature of his duties on this film (he found the film’s famous brown­stone loca­tion) and what it was like to work with the noto­ri­ous Winner, who he says was demand­ing but took care of his reli­able crew mem­bers. Singleton has gone on to a career as a pro­duc­er and direc­tor and also offers some inter­est­ing insights into the film busi­ness.

The remain­der oSentin-05f the extras are devot­ed to pro­mo­tion­al mate­ri­als. A trail­er push­es the hor­ror vibe and the all-star cast while two t.v. spots explore sim­i­lar ter­ri­to­ry, with the sec­ond of the lat­ter using the sideshow per­form­ers to a sur­pris­ing degree. Three image gal­leries pre­sent­ed in ani­mat­ed form round things out: the first fea­tures dozens of stills, the sec­ond has a vari­ety of black-and-white press pho­tos and the third has over thir­ty images of dif­fer­ent posters, lob­by cards and even pages from the film’s press­book.

In short, this is a nice lit­tle edi­tion of a deep-cat­a­log cult favorite that ‘70s hor­ror mavens will enjoy, par­tic­u­lar­ly with all those com­men­tary tracks to explore.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of The Sentinel, click here.