Found-Again Friday: Putting The Chris Sarandon In Christmas With The Sentinel (1977)


Why Found-Again? A few days ago I mentioned a theme month, and here we are! What I didn’t mention is that I’m going to be reviewing these in rising order of expectations. If it ticks you off that a horror classic like The Sentinel is at the bottom of my list, well, I totally sympathize. Maybe this viewing will be better.

The Premise: Alison (Cristina Raines) is a model, a bundle of nerves, and the girlfriend of a lawyer (Chris Sarandon in a terrible little mustache).

It takes a +20 Face of Handsomeness to defeat that facial hair.
It takes a +20 Face of Handsomeness to defeat that facial hair.

Once she gets an apartment of her own, she’s also the winner of the 1977 My Neighbors Are Super Weird Award—including a blind priest who inhabits the building’s top floor. When her orgy-loving, Jesus-hating father dies, Alison’s traumatic past returns to haunt her in lurid visions, and her health begins to suffer. Is she all there?

Indeed, is anybody?

Well, demons, it turns out. Guess who’s living on a hellmouth?

In a discussion about the best casts in movies, The Sentinel would be at the top of my list, and not just because it forms an important nexus in my Four Degrees of Jeff Goldblum game.

“I’m going to have a British phase?”

Visually (and ideologically, in its ironclad faith in Catholicism), the movie is a close cousin of those other classic dark-panelled 1970s horror films, Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. The Sentinel is also an interesting confluence of subgenres: in addition to the church-versus-Satan plot, there are traces of zombies, haunted houses and a psychological thriller lurking here—even a touch of police procedural as Sarandon’s character is investigated for murder. It’s a very powerful film. However…

The Verdict: It’s a failing of mine that I can appreciate bleak movies in a lit-crit kind of way but rarely like them, and make no mistake, The Sentinel is bleak. It’s probably perfect for what it is, though: if someone tried to turn a Hieronymus Bosch painting into a 20th-century story, this is exactly what you’d get. All the glamor, the hopes, and the humanity of the characters gets burned away in a story of ecclesiastical good against evil. I have the same beef with mortal sin as a plot device here that I do when it turns up in Hamlet, and I can’t really get over it.

You can get me to admire The Sentinel—I was much more taken with it this time around— but you can’t quite get me to enjoy it.

Might go well with: Prince of Darkness, The Omen.

Apropos Of Fridays In December: Theme Month!

While making a list of things to watch during October, I noticed a certain… similarity about my choices. An actor who kept popping up again and again like a bad penny or a relentless supernatural killer.

Then I wondered if I’d have time to watch all this stuff by Halloween.

Then, like a certain other holiday figure, I got a wonderful, awful idea.

This December, I’m going to focus on putting the Chris Sarandon back in Christmas.

The Sentinel, Fright Night, Child’s Play, The Resurrected and Tales From the Crypt: Bordello of Blood are all coming at you this month. After all, red is a holiday color.

If you've ever secretly rooted for Humperdinck, have I got a month for you.
If you’ve ever secretly rooted for Humperdinck, have I got a month for you!

The Quest For Monday! Part 50: The Power Of Symbols

(Episode: “Shadow of the Condor”)

Synopsis: You know those horror movies with people stranded at the house of a madman and forced to compete in strange ways for survival? Well, here’s the Quest version:  Race Bannon is in the sights of Snoopy’s old foe, a WWI flying ace, and Bandit is in the sights of a horrific owl-eating condor. Not a Peanuts/JQ crossover, sadly, but there is a dachshund named Wili.

Tip 50: The right environment is important.

It can stray into superstition, but sometimes you just need your enemies to do a little cosplay for you.

Dashing! And creepy!
Dashing! And creepy!

Of course, your enemies could also set the scene by stealing your good-luck wiener dog.

"If we steal Snoopy, the Baron can't fight? Which Peanuts special was this?"
“Which Peanuts special was this again?”

Alternately, think of this as two scenes from The Quest For Monday!’s 50th Installment Gala.


Next time: We kick off a theme month! Watch this space on Wednesday…

Next time on TQfM!: Up in the air. Honest. That’s where our post is going.

Finally! Friday: Moonlight (2007)

Why Finally? A few weeks ago, we covered a vampire detective I didn’t like—and I have to say I enjoy (for a given value of that word) watching Forever Knight far more now that I go into it knowing I’m going to mock it. A very silly weight has been lifted.

My hunt is still on for that TV equivalent of The Vampire Files’ Jack Fleming, though, so I thought I’d check out Moonlight, which ran for one season in 2007.

The Premise: Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) is a relatively recent vampire; he was a hard-boiled ’50s PI who fell in love and got vamped on his wedding night. This would make a great opportunity for a Moonlight/Highlander: End Game-based crossover where Mick and Duncan MacLeod’s ex bond in some kind of group therapy, but instead Mick is still being absurdly cute solving crimes.

Or, as in this scene, doing both.
Or, as in this scene, both.

One investigation brings him into contact with a reporter named Beth (Sophia Myles), whose life Mick saved from his ex when Beth was a child, and a relationship begins to bloom. Between fanged villains and Beth’s Lois Lane-like talent for finding trouble and running toward it at high speed, it’s a (un)life of adventure.

You know I love a good case-of-the-week show, but it turns out I still hate internecine vampire politics, so Moonlight occasionally became hard going. The series also plays around with the idea of a cure for vampirism, one of my pet peeves. (I don’t know why it should be, but from the Dark Shadows revival to the romance novels I read as a teenager, I’ve never really clicked with the concept.) Mick is a great character, but I didn’t really like Moonlight itself enough to stick with it.

The Verdict: I honestly wonder if this one might be me; perhaps I’m just in the wrong mood at this point in time. There were a lot of good moments in Moonlight, but they just didn’t add up quite right. I may revisit this in a year or two and see if I find it easier to get into.

Someday, though,  it’ll happen: the thing I’m looking for will get made—heck, maybe someone will put the actual Vampire Files on a screen of some size—and when it does, I’ll be nodding and grinning and thinking “Perfect. A little bit X-Files, a little bit Remington Steele, and a little bit Moonlight.” But this show by itself doesn’t seem to be it.

To put it in perspective with other recent reviews here at the Omelet, while Mick is no Mildred Heavewater, neither is he a Nick Knight (thank god).

Might go well with: A nice glass of whatever you like to drink. May want to err on the side of intoxicant.

(Note: some of the roles were recast after the pilot, so the trailer differs from the actual show. On the other hand, the “absurdly cute” quotient is strong.)



The Quest For Monday! Part 49: The Upper Middle of Nowhere

[Okay, I admit it: the fact that part of the outside world seems to be putting on a remake of “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” with no sign of stopping threw a monkey wrench into the Omelet for a few weeks. (Hm, that metaphor went off the rails. As did that one, really.) Anyway, service is restored. Welcome back.]

(Episode: “Shadow of the Condor”)

Synopsis: You know those horror movies with people stranded at the house of a madman and forced to compete in strange ways for survival? Well, here’s the Questy version:  Race Bannon is in the sights of Snoopy’s old foe, a WWI flying ace, and Bandit is in the sights of a horrific owl-eating condor. Not a Peanuts/JQ crossover, sadly, but there is a wiener dog named Wili.


Tip 49: As they say, “Location, location, location.”

...Preferably not THIS location!
…Preferably not THIS location!
That's better.
That’s better.


Next time: That review of 2007 TV series Moonlight really exists and will be coming out— as will a brief look at The Conjuring, as soon as I can bring myself to grab a screencap of Annabelle. (I wish I was kidding. Being a nervous/squeamish horror fan has its unique challenges.)

Next time on TQfM!: Clothes make the plan.

The Quest For Monday! Part 48: Catching Some Wild, Probably Dangerous Zs

(Episode: “Shadow of the Condor”)

Synopsis: You know those horror movies with a group of people stranded at the house of a delusional madman and forced to compete in strange ways for survival? Well,  Jonny Quest has one too;  Race Bannon is in the sights of Snoopy’s old foe, a WWI flying ace, and Bandit is in the sights of a horrific owl-eating condor. Not a Peanuts/JQ crossover, sadly, but there is a wiener dog named Wili.

Tip 48: Refresh yourself.

Think of your typical day: pushing papers, fighting goblins, building killer robots, maybe even proofreading. Whatever it is, you’ll do it better if you’re well-rested.

I assume these are official Special Forces PJs...or maybe just some of that performance sleepwear I've been reading about.
I assume these are official Special Forces PJs…or maybe just some of that performance sleepwear I’ve been reading about.

Sweet dreams…



Never mind.


Next time: I plan to review 2007 TV series Moonlight, whether I manage to finish watching Season the Only by Friday or not.

Next time on TQfM!: It’s up in the air, literally.

Apropos Of Our Cynical Omelet + Random Personal Anecdote

I know, I haven’t been posting on schedule, partly from laziness and partly from a desire to get some movies I haven’t seen into the Friday mix this month (The Conjuring arrives at my house tomorrow and will be written up the minute someone can pull me off the ceiling and stop the whimpering, I assume).

Two other reasons: my obsession with the Prisma photo app and the fact that my cat has decided people can't leave.
Two other reasons, illustrated here: my obsession with the Prisma photo app and my cat, who has decided people can’t leave my home.


Until then, an anecdote from this century this time: I Am A Prophet, But Not A Very Good One

In 2003, I was still with the guy I refer to as Future Ex-Husband. I was also working on a piece of fanfiction for my own amusement (amazingly, not about Highlander—though I did see a crossover fic once).

I had an original character in this story and was working on her backstory, realizing that people don’t spend seven years only doing [big plot activity]. No, she’d probably dated at least one person, even if it hadn’t worked out. So I invented another character, “Bill,” whose job put him near the action of the story. They’d dated for a couple of years, but she was more interested in her work, and eventually the two of them split up. Bill had brown hair and glasses and presented himself as being more stable than he probably was. A good guy, in other words, who was too flawed to date.

My unfinished story got stuck in a drawer for ten years, the first two of which were spent breaking up with the FEH. A year or so after the separation, I entered what in retrospect was probably the rebound phase and started dating again.

He had brown hair and glasses. He thought of himself as a strong, stable relationship partner, but he could be moody and flaky. And I kid you not, his name was “Will,” one letter off from the fellow in my fanfic. They even worked in the same general field… and I did not notice any of this until I pulled that story out of my desk in 2013, long after it could have done me any good.

That’s right—I predicted my own rebound guy in a silly fanfic and I still went out with him, never once making the connection between Fanfiction Bill and Sitting-Next-To-Me-in-2006 Will.

So take it from me: you’ll probably gain more wisdom by reading other people, but do look over your own drafts once in a while. Your dignity may depend on it.

Finally! Friday: Murder With Monsters by K.T. Katzmann

(I’d like to say I’m kicking off a spooky theme for October, but this differs from my usual Friday how? Also, I’ve never reviewed anything by someone I follow on Twitter before, so I’m a bit nervous: this plays into my twin fears that 1) people will never read this site and 2) holy crap, people might be reading this site. Anyway…)

Why Finally? After lots of eager reading, a few years ago I found myself no longer enthused about paranormal books—and just when the genre and its assorted subsections really took off, too. Part of this might add up to some hipster suspicion of “things other people like,” but really, why did I stall out on the fifth book of  more than one series?

Eventually I decided it had to be the multiple mythical creatures. I’ve been reading books about only ghosts, only vampires, and the like since childhood and never getting tired of them, but when you have enough monsters running around that you need interspecies politics and logistics, my interest wanes like a werewolf’s light source. That makes sense, right? Question answered!

So along came K.T. Katzmann’s Murder With Monsters and its whole monster manual of characters to prove that, like that guy on Game of Thrones, I know nothing.


The Premise: Forever sixteen on the outside, vampire police detective Mildred Heavewater works in a very diverse section of the NYPD staffed by humans, Universal Studios refugees, and creatures you will have to look up. A new murder case seems to point to a golem as the culprit, but the Jewish Mildred can’t believe that: after all, they’re “programmed” not to hurt people. Assisted by her human partner and the cute new sasquatch M.E., it’s up to Mildred to investigate in the Orthodox area of Brooklyn while being very, very unkosher.

Know that I am waving my arms and yelling “THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!”

“J.A.,” you are likely saying, “is this one of your silly things again?” It is! and thank you for noticing. But it’s not just a book that reads like Lovecraft wrote a season of Law & Order and the whole thing was sent up in a Kent Montana novel; there’s a lot of heart here, even if the protagonist’s generally refuses to beat. Watching Mildred navigate her cases, her friendships, and a personal life she doesn’t quite seem to feel the right to have, we get a sense of a complex character for whom too many things have been put on hold, and whose “girl detective” appearance is the final layer of awkwardness on top of her other problems. The supporting characters—which include a werewolf, a harpy, a shoggoth with an excellent phone manner,  and some ghosts— are also (pardon the pun) fleshed out, and I found the whodunit reveal genuinely shocking.

Me being me, the cameos by Isaac Asimov and Carl Kolchak didn’t hurt, either.

The Verdict: *waves arms and yells “THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD!!” again*

I am delighted to see that this is intended as the first of a series; there are so many characters to follow in Murder With Monsters, and I will be delighted to do so. Especially if the shoggoth gets her own story, but I’m weird like that.

Might go well with: Sushi.


Next time: An aeronut. That’s a pun, not a typo.


The Quest For Monday! Part 47: The War of Dogs

(Episode: “Shadow of the Condor”)

Synopsis: You know those horror movies with a group of people stranded at the house of a delusional madman and forced to compete in strange ways for survival? Well,  Jonny Quest did one too;  Race Bannon is in the sights of Snoopy’s old foe, a WWI flying ace. Not a Peanuts/JQ crossover, sadly, but there is a wiener dog.


Tip 47: It never pays to compare yourself to others.

Look how depressed Bandit is.
Look how depressed Bandit is.


It’ll only lead to anger.










Next time: A book review? Quite possibly!

Next time on TQfM!: Condors and the mad German barons who love them.

Nothing Could Be Found Friday! …Um.

It finally happened: Thanks to some plotting for October and December (which, surprise!, will look a lot like most people’s October in terms of Friday posts), I’ve kind of cordoned off my possibilities for slow viewing weeks. As a result, I am all out of  Friday at the moment.

When TV shows hit this sort of obstacle, they often do a clip show, so I will too.

Apropos Of Our Cynical Omelet: Search Terms And Me

I love reading search-term posts on other sites, but having few readers means it’s taken almost two years to amass enough for one of my own. I also think it might be fun to grade the Omelet in terms of providing service, so let’s see what people have been looking for!

“Hellboy’s heroine”—This was my first-ever search term, and though I’ve since referred to the end of the Hellboy movie, all this person got was a photo of my 2014 Hellboy Halloween costume. I’m so sorry. Grade: D+

Here's Liz...
To make it up to you, here’s Liz…
...and just in case, here's Kate Corrigan.
…and just in case, here’s Kate Corrigan.

“Sean Connery and Carol Sopel”—Apparently these two were married. I didn’t know that before seeing someone look for it, and I can’t imagine the searcher felt edified by my bitching about Highlander and Darby O’Gill.  Grade: F

Highlander absorbance”—This is the search term I’m most proud of; when I first noticed the spelling of “absorbance” on Brenda’s printout in the movie, I couldn’t find any confirmation that it was correct. That was several years ago, however, and the internet is much improved. I’m oddly pleased to be a resource to the three other proofreading Highlander fans out there. Grade: A+

“The Big Easy movie”—I like it for no compelling reason! Grade: A

“Jay Sherman and his sister Margo”—I mentioned the sibling relationship in my Friday post on The Critic, but didn’t really get into it. Margo’s great, though. Grade: B-


“Count Blah”—I used the Count—a Greg the Bunny character veeeeerrrry loosely based on the other famous vampire puppet—as a sight gag in my review of Frankenstein. I should probably do a Found-Again post for Greg the Bunny one of these days. Grade: C

“Kurgan fanfic”—Dude, I have tried: not to write any, but to find some, especially when I was doing the There Can Be Only Monday! posts. After on-and-mostly-off searching since I first saw the movie in the early 2000s, I have found maybe five stories. Highlander’s villain is such a beloved bad guy…by me, for one…but apparently does not inspire people to churn out reams of prose. Grade: does effort count?