Alice Sweet Alice (1977)
Alice Sweet Alice is an interesting stylistically fairly well made film. It was released theatrically three different times. Once as “Communion” another as “Holy Terror” and finally re-released on DVD as Alice Sweet Alice, I prefer that title although it makes me feel a tad bit dirty like being caught watching something tasteful on Cinemax. This film is as close as it gets to the American Giallo. One thing that sets this movie apart from Halloween and other slashers is that the killer is human; you see the killer tripping over random objects and in some cases even his own shoes, you would never see Michael or Jason tripping over themselves like a bunch of bumbling idiots. The movie starts of with two sisters, Karen (Brooke Sheilds) who is preparing to receive her first communion and her mentally unstable older sister Alice (Paula Shepard) It is obvious from the beginning that Alice is the black sheep of the family. She loves to torture her little sister while wearing a yellow raincoat and grinning mask, she play pranks on her grossly overweight neighbor, hell she even has a two faced doll, this bitch is crazy. Paula Shepard is flawless as the quick tempered Alice, yet there is a sadness in her eyes, a vulnerability that I wish they’d touched on a little bit more.
As Karen prepares to get ready for her first communion she is strangled and set on fire in the church, there are moments in the film were the camera is really tight on the actors and makes the film appear more melodramatic than it really is. When Karen is murdered all evidence points to Alice, when Alice’s aunt is attacked by a person with a yellow rain coat in a grinning mask she claims that Alice is the one to blame. Alice is then questioned by the police, and given a lie detector test, when asked if she has ever harmed any one she reluctantly answers yes, she also believes that her sister is a ghost and according to the test she is telling the truth. With no concrete evidence she is taken to a mental facility and looked after. The interesting thing about Alice sweet Alice is the Killer is unmasked 2/3rd through the movie, but the tension is not taken away from the rest of the film, in fact it adds to it. I found myself constantly trying to figure out who the killer was up until the point of the unmasking, and I admit I am one of those people who pride themselves on knowing who the killer is of each film before the ending. How am I usually right? I promise myself a Scooby snack if I figure it out.
Alfred Sole delivers plenty of psychological scares as well as a little blood and has some shock value to it that had me drop my corona while shouting “SON OF A BUSH!” at the television.( side note, when I say “son of a bush” feel free to pick any bush, Jeb, George sr. or George W.) Alice sweet Alice is, diet Argento, a hidden gem in the world of horror movies. It might seem a little slow to some, but if you are looking to get away from the “Twilights” and the pointless gore that riddle the big screen, I fully recommend this film. For your daily dose of Keithisms make sure you stay tuned to horrorgoreandmore.com
– By Keith