Director – Alfred Sole
Cast – Linda Miller, Mildred Clinton, Paula E. Sheppard, Niles McMaster, Jane Lowry, Rudolph Willrich, Michael Hardstack, Alphonso DeNoble, Gary Allen, Brooke Shields, Louisa Horton, Tom Signorelli, Lillian Roth
Release Year – 1976
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The 70s was great for many reasons in the horror realm. We were given great slasher films(Halloween), zombie films(Dawn of the Dead), and one fun yet not often realized tidbit…great lesser known horror flicks like Alice Sweet Alice. This American slasher flick (known to some as Communion) is a joy to watch not merely because of its great slasher element, but it brings us along for a beautiful and artsy ride perfectly crafted and disguised as a slasher film, a creepy slasher film.
Alice is a strange and ugly 12 year old child who suffers from the favoritism her mother , Catherine, shows her younger sister Karen(Brooke Shields in her first role). When Karen is brutally murdered during her fist Communion, all eyes turn to the jealous and mischievous Alice as the suspect. While the body count of those closest to Catherine continues to rise, all fingers a pointed at Alice, but Catherine is not convinced. Could a 12 year old girl really murder so many people, or is something entirely more grave going on?
If you enjoy atmospheric horror, then this film is sure to please your atmospheric desires. Right from the get-go we are thrown into the pleasant yet dreadful feeling you will constantly be bombarded with throughout this film’s 105 minute runtime thanks to superb direction from co-writer/director Alfred Sole. Mr. Sole’s cinematography is excellent, and this musical score is perfectly correlated with his somewhat Argento-esque stunning visuals and nicely panned shots.
Story-wise this flick excels and gives us a captivating “who-dun-it” thanks to great character development and many twists and turns that leave you wondering if little Alice really could commit the crimes we see on screen. While this is an American made film, it sure does come off as a giallo in many ways. The story, the direction, and another little tidbit I will get to later lead to the giallo feel. We get some great character use out of Catherine(Alice’s mother) as she copes not only with Karen’s death, but the fact that everyone around her believes that her only other child, Alice, is the culprit. Things become worse for her when Alice is blamed for several other murders of those around her, and she must cope with those deaths as well.
So what besides writing and direction give this flick a “giallo” feel? Well…simply put, the gory kills! I know that falls a bit under direction, but I was really surprised to see such gory kills in this beautifully crafted film. Not that I did not want to see such kills, because I did, but I just did not expect them to be so great with the way this film felt. It felt as if this flick was too good for such fascinating giallo-esque kills and would settle more for Psycho kills, but that was not the case with this one, and I loved it.
I really do not have any major complaints with this film, although it does tend to slow down pacing-wise from time to time. Thankfully, we get some nice story and character developments during those slow times so at least we get something for it.
Overall, this is a great and very atmospheric slasher film that deserves more appreciation from the horror genre. Great story, stunning visuals and direction, as well as some awesome kills and tension make this flick a true gem to watch.