Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Review: Alice, Sweet Alice


Starring Linda Miller, Mildred Clinton, Paula Sheppard. Directed by Albert Sole.


8/10


Okay, so Alice, Sweet Alice has a kind of infamous history in the horror circuit. It started out as Communion, which it initially was screened as until the distributor dropped it and it was picked up by another and renamed. Then, it was re-cut and redistributed again, this time as Holy Terror. But Alice, Sweet Alice is the definitive title and version of this little known classic shocker. The film has garnered a bit of fame for its background, its subject matter, and for being Brooke Shields' first movie.


The film, shot in the summer of 1975 (long before the slasher genre took off with John Carpenter's masterpiece, Halloween), follows the sisters Alice and Karen (the young Brooke Shields). Karen is an angel in everyone's eyes, and can do no wrong, if only because her sister is vicious and vindictive. Alice teases her, abuses her communion veil and locks her in a building just to scare her.


On the day of her first communion, Karen is brutally murdered and all fingers are reasonably pointed to her sister, after Alice is found wearing Karen's veil to the alter. Everyone assumes the killer is Alice as the tension builds, and it keeps you guessing until the very end. The acting is impressive and the horror is well-paced. Originally, the film was reviled for being an apparent attack on the Catholic church, though director Albert Sole has said since that the church was merely the backdrop he wished to set his horror against. While it was initially met with mediocre praise, it has garnered more deserved respect in the decades since.


As many shocks as Psycho, as much religious commentary as The Exorcist, with as much atmosphere as The Haunting, there's no reason why this well-written, acted and directed genre masterpiece shouldn't be listed as a classic right beside all of the aforementioned.

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