Alice, Sweet Alice (Communion) Reviews
The movie starts off with 11 year-old Karen Spages, Brooks Shield, being grabbed from behind and strangled at the St. Michael Church in Patterson New Jersey, on the very day she's to receive communion, by a masked and unknown assailant. Even though all the evidence to Karen's murder points to her older sister Alice, Paula E. Sheppard, it's very obvious that her killer is an adult, being at least a foot taller and some 30 pounds heavier then Alice.
With Alice now the #1 suspect in Karen's death she, who wasn't that normal to begin with, starts to act the part of the killer that she's accused of acting both weird and almost homicidal towards everyone she comes in contact with. When Aunt Annie, Jane Lowry, is brutally attacked on the stairway of Alice's home by the masked and yellow raincoat wearing psycho it's determined, by the police school as well as her parents, that Alice who's suspected of the assault desperately needs mental therapy. Alice committed to a juvenile detention center is then forced to take a polygraph test to determine if she's telling the truth about the two attacks, one being fatal, on her sister Karen and Aunt Annie. The test, which Alice passed, shows that if Alice did in fact commit these two crimes she by passing it has no recollection of them.
The movie soon turns into a bloodbath of religious horror with the masked killer coming out into the open and first slashing and then throwing to his death, down a three story landing, Alice's father Dominick Spages and then later slicing up the fat guy who lives down the hall, the landlord, of Alice's apartment house Mr. Alphonso, Alphonso DeNoble. We get to see well before the movie is over, with some half hour left to go, who the masked killer really is which makes the blood-splattering ending, during Communion at St. Michael's Church, a bit anti-climatic.
A notch above the usual slasher movies that came out in the 1970's and 1980's "Alice Sweet Alice" or, as it was originally titled, "Communion" is a lot like the 1973 religiously-inspired blockbuster "The Exorcist" in it's treatment of personal guilt in traditional Catholic teachings. In fact the mad killer in the movie felt that the guilt was on his or her victims heads not his own. Recommended
Alfred Sole's effectively accomplished direction, atmospheric handling and astutely symbolic, psychological tampered plot really do go real long way to covering the flawed aspects of the commendable production. In what might have damage other films, only goes on to be a minor quibble here because there are so many glowing factors, which are amazingly pulled off for an impressive low-budget effort. This is one of my favourite 70's horror oddities, which breaths a fresh air in its premise's circuitously glum layout, an ominously nasty streak, purposely stinging jolts and being filmed on authentic locations in New Jersey.
What makes the unusually cunning and certainly unpredictable plot compelling, is that so much can be read from it, like it's penetrating thoughts on Catholicism too the prolific character developments involving the hardships of family life, but there's no lying about its true intentions, which did kind of got mingled with the baffling conclusion. Making repeat viewings a must, to pick up on those minor details. Some fundamental devices in the plot show up; the usual police investigation is the glaring one, but it never draws away from the main focus and adjustably installs itself into the material. There are some odd and eccentric characters written in also, which catch onto the emotional ride. Some might think the tension will evaporate, as just after halfway through the killer is unmasked, but the story's slow rising sinisterness early on eventually leads to a brooding intensity that actually seems to fester up, for the thrilling final third with one powerful conclusion to boot.
Sole does a vividly lucid job in the director's chair with moody imagery, creative viewpoints and uneasy composition, backed up by disquietingly stylish jolts timed with utter perfection. However in spots it can drag with it's deliberately slow pace and a densely thorough script, which can labour along. Maybe it was a tad too long. Also illustrating the film's disorienting air and unsettling suspense was John Freeberg's gracefully skilled cinematography and Stephen Lawrence's playfully chilling, but occasionally harrowing musical score, which expertly went hand-to-hand to craft out an overwhelming tenor. The killer goes around in a shiny yellow slicker, white gloves and the chilling doll mask they wear, actually gives me the creeps. The performances are noting to write home about and might be gauche in some cases, but there's no denying that the matchless Paula E. Shepherd is startlingly convincing as the creepy Alice. Linda Miller does exceptionally well as Alice's heart-aching mother Catherine and Niles McMaster brings a solidarity to his performance as Alice's stalwart father Dom. Jane Lowry can get fittingly overbearing as the haughty Aunt Annie and the unforgettable Alphonso DeNoble keeps it all vile as the grubby landlord. Even with the high billing that Brooke Shields receives, her debut performance is efficient and her death memorable, but not worth all the fuzz for only 15 minutes. Mildred Clinton, Rudolph Willrich, Michael Hardstark, Tom Signorelli, Lillian Roth and Gary Allen go on to give able support.
An uncomfortably staggering affair with many dimensions to its story and inspired craftsmanship by Sole and co, which go on to make it a very good unappreciated gem of the 70s.
Watch it for free on online ;)
Acting/characters: Right away we discover that the titular character is a total well...you-know-what. but I think it's merely lashing out because it seems that her mother favors her younger daughter, Karen. Or, at least she seems to think so. She's just withdrawn. There is definite overacting in this film.Thankfully though, it was infrequent. It was infrequent but it was still there. By far the best performance in the film (and looking at other review it seems that most people agree with me) was Paula Sheppard as the titular character, Alice. She wasn't in the film as much as I would have liked in the end but she stole the show whenever she was. unfortunately, this was one of only two movies she did. considering the other one was critically acclaimed too, she could have gone on to do much more. everyone else was okay. I feel that they tried to make the acting good in First Age Slashers. They actually tried unlike the Second Age. This movie is no different. They wanted the acting to be good as opposed to the acting in successive films. 7.5/10
Plot: there is only about 10 minutes of exposition in this film before they drop you right into the action. But the actual killings are pretty spread apart. Until the end that is...even then a little. But it's a slasher film so what are you gonna do? The plot was enjoyable and kept me entertained through all of it. One big problem that I have is that it was kinda lazy at points. It is never good at all when a character disappears and you never hear anything about them again. It creates plot holes and unsolvable questions. IF ANYONE HAS SEEN THIS MOVIE CAN YOU PLEASE ANSWER SOME QUESTIONS I HAVE ABOUT IT!?!?!
Sorry about that I just hate it when characters disappear for no reason and I don't want to give spoilers away by just asking about it here. That aside, it was entertaining but not perfect. I enjoyed it overall though. but I do have to say that the killer reveal absolutely sucks. I hated it. 8/10
Screenplay: The screenplay flaws here go hand in hand with the overacting. It was overall unmemorable. It just moved the story along which wasn't bad in this case. I would have liked to have seen a little more effort go into making the script better but it was pretty decent. I'm not sure whether the overacting was a result of the bad screenplay or if the overacting butchered the lines that they had written. whichever it was it sucked. I'm going to have to give the script some of the blame for it though. it was decent though. Nothing really special. 7.5/10
Likableness: It was a decent First Age Slasher (not that I've seen as many First Age Slashers as I would like) but I have seen better (Psycho anyone?) yeah, much better. Other FAS show me that at some point, this genre was trying. it really was. They were trying to make these movies good as opposed to the second age where they were all a dime a dozen. It does show here that they were trying to make a good movie here and for the most part I think they succeeded. I would watch this one again and I would suggest any people who are fans of a decent horror film to watch it. It is a flawed film but entertaining. 8/10
Final Score: 31/40 77% (D)
Tomatometer rating: 80%
Tomatometer rating if my review was added: 83%
TRIVIA TIME: 1. Paula E. Sheppard, who played 12-year-old Alice, was 19 during the making of the film.
2. When Father Tom stands in the rain, watching Mrs. Tredoni check the mail, a poster for the film Psycho can be seen in the background.
3. Linda Miller was injured while filming the scene in the hospital, and production had to be halted for a month. Fortunately, she didn't have to go far for medical help since they were filming in a hospital.
4. The knife used in the film was created by Alfred Sole's neighbor, who was an engineer, and was designed with a retractable blade. It was the only knife used in the film; the filmmakers never made any duplicates.
On the day of Karen's first Communion, she is brutally murdered in the church, and the police suspect Alice, especially after her Aunt is attacked, and she said Alice did it (it was someone dressed in Alice's yellow rain slicker and grinning mask).
Alice is sent to a psychiatric hospital, but the murders don't stop. Soon it becomes clear that someone is out to destroy the family, but for what reason?
This was Brooke Shield's first feature film, and everyone talks about it as such. But she was only in the film for about ten minutes total, the main focus of the film centers around Alice and her family, and how murder seems to surround them. I enjoyed the mystery of the film, but the acting had a lot to be desired. Looking into it, I saw that a lot of the actors had done live plays before, and their performances expressed that, as they often seemed too over-the-top. Plus the quality of the film left much to be desired.