Paula Sheppard is Alice, a pouty, petulant problem child at that awkward age living with her precocious little sister Karen (Brooke Shields) and single mom. When Karen is murdered during her first communion and Alice takes... more » her place in line, suspicion immediately falls on her. Then a diminutive killer in a yellow slicker and opaque mask continues the reign of terror, and Alice's estranged father takes up the investigation to prove her innocence. Director Alfred Sole has acknowledged a debt to Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, but Alice, Sweet Alice is really in the Hitchcock mold, a stylish, smartly executed psychological suspense thriller. The violence is rarely graphic but often grueling and always harrowing, and the deaths reverberate through the film in genuine and sometimes hysterical outpourings of grief. Even when Sole reveals the killer's identity in a startling moment halfway through (à la Vertigo), the tension never lets up. The original title of the film, Communion, better captures the Catholic elements of guilt, sacrifice, and redemption that become central to the film (another tip to Hitchcock). Only a couple of grotesque caricatures (notably an obese pedophile landlord) and a few rough moments (largely special effects scenes, likely due to budgetary constraints) mar this otherwise intelligent and well executed thriller. The DVD also features an insightful commentary track by director Alfred Sole and editor Edward Salier and an alternate credits sequence (identical but for the film's title), as well as brief biographies and filmographies and a stills gallery. --Sean Axmaker« less
"I finally got my hands on a copy of this out of print DVD and watched it in the wee dark hours. I was so disturbed afterwards I couldn't go to sleep.
This is a really well crafted horror/suspense movie that was notable at the time of its release as the debut film of Brooke Shields (whose fame has since faded). Beyond this, it is a creepy, chilling, and fascinating film with some very realistic murder sequences. The idea of a child being murdered on the day of her first communion INSIDE THE CHURCH is disturbing enough, and to watch this sequence will send a chill up your spine.
After this, the question becomes, is the bratty older sister the culprit, or is someone else the killer? What's interesting regarding the attacks by the killer is how utterly out of control and spontaneous they are, just as I imagine a crazy person would conduct such attacks. The killer isn't just interested in killing the victims, the killer wants to assault them in any manner, at any time.
One victim is stabbed in the legs and feet as she is descending a staircase, and the motive seems to be the infliction of pain, suffering, and torture, all presented very realistcally. The attack is cruel, brutal, and sudden, completely unexpected. Despite what the main review says, there is plenty of blood to be seen.
Another victim is beaten with a brick, and then very graphically, has his mouth bashed several times with the brick. This scene is so realistic, I swear I could see the actor's lips splitting and the actor spitting out teeth. Again, the viciousness of the attack is simply terrifying and unnerving.
When the killer is revealed more than half way through the film, I thought this would diminish the rest of the movie. This was not true, as I was then trying to guess the motive behind the attacks. The killer is clearly insane, and therefore, no rational motive exists.
The images of religious iconography and the scenes inside a catholic church create a pervasive sense of dread and unease thoughout the film: a place of sanctuary and comforting religious objects are powerless against the unfolding horror and utter madness of the killer. Comparisons to DON'T LOOK NOW and Hitchcock films are justified, but this film is no mere rip-off. Watch it with the lights off and feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up."
Slow, but well-developed.
Robert P. Beveridge | Cleveland, OH | 09/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Alice, Sweet Alice (Alfred Sole, 1976)
Alfred Sole directed only four films in his brief career (he later switched to production design, and has been running his feet off in that capacity since 1994; two films, twenty-six TV movies, and a TV series). Alice, Sweet Alice was the second of them, and the only film he directed for which he also wrote the screenplay. Very strange, because Alice, Sweet Alice is the best film Sole directed, and you'd think Hollywood would have given him another chance.
Alice (Liquid Sky's Paula E. Sheppard) is a troubled adolescent. Her mother, Catherine (Linda Miller of An Unmarried Woman and Turner & Hooch), is at wits' end. Her sister Karen (Brooke Shields, in her big screen debut) alternates between hating her and wanting to be her. Until, that is, Karen winds up dead just before receiving her first communion. The community's suspicion falls on Alice, naturally, while her mother staunchly defends the girl's innocence.
Tight, leisurely, and eerie, Alice, Sweet Alice is one of those movies that keeps you guessing till the end (even when the killer is revealed half an hour before that). It takes time to develop its characters, which has turned off a number of reviewers; if you rent this expecting a nonstop frightfest, you will be disappointed. This is mystery combined with coming-of-age tale that happens to have horrific elements to it.
Special mention should be made of the appearance of silent film star Lillian Roth, whose cameo was her first big-screen appearance in over forty years. (Roth would make only one more appearance, also a cameo, before her death in 1980.)
A fine piece of work, and one that deserves far more recognition than it's gotten. *** ½ "
Finally A Classic Being Re-Released As It Should Be!! 4.5 st
M. Jarrett | New England, USA | 02/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember when I had the 1999 DVD edition of Alice, Sweet Alice and I remember it was quite a thrill to own and watch. It was one of the superior thrillers out there (see my other review of that edition which is available and it will tell you my thoughts on this movie). Finally, our wonderful movie heads have decided to re-release this classic in a new edition. For those of you who have waited patiently while the other edition sells on ebay for $30-$50 a pop, you can now own this movie for less than $25 and it will most assuredly be a necessary edition to your collection. Whether you're a Brooke Shields fan or a fan of cult classics, Alice, Sweet Alice should not disappoint you fans who have been hungering for this! Now, you'll have the chance to own a movie that has become a cult hit in its own right!"
Ingenious Horror Film
A. Griffiths | London | 02/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Communion" is the better alternative title for this thoroughly enjoyable horror film. Don't expect to see much of the character of Brooke Shields, as she doesn't survive for very long! That's all I 'm saying about the plot, as this is a real whodunnit that should be enjoyed without prior warning. The real star of this movie is Paula Sheppard as the disturbed youngster Alice, who appears to be at the center of some very gruesome murders. It doesn't help that she likes to wander around in a bright yellow raincoat and spooky smiling mask, but that's just scratching the surface of this movie's weirdness..Gore highlights include a horrific stabbing through a staircase bannister which will make you wince, as well as a painful scene in which the murderer has to bash in the teeth of a victim who is biting down on a vital piece of incriminating evidence..ouch! All the acting is superb, including Linda Miller as the agonised mother, and Jane Lowry, I think as the bitchy aunt. The film really stands out because of the stylish direction and many twists, I really recommend a viewing. It has been compared to "Don't Look Now", but it reminds me more of Michael Winner's "The Sentinel", only better."
Mark Twain | 03/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It took me over two years to give this film a chance. When I first saw this, I was the type of person who watched movies for entertainment and hated to be bored. Since taking up screenwriting, my opinions and taste have obviously changed, but let's not discuss that.Made in the late 70's by director Alfred Sole, I wasn't so sure this film would be in my taste range. Seemed like another cheesy 70's slasher. After reading many positive reviews on the film, I decided to give it a shot, and was pleasantly surprised. The film is never boring and the suspense is terrific. It starts off with a bang and ends the same way. Paula Sheppard plays Alice, a hot-headed and grumpy problem child who lives with her adorable little sister Karen, played by Brooke Shields, and single mom. When Karen is murdered during her first communion and Alice takes her place in line, suspicion immediately falls upon her as the murderer. Even her aunt begins to suspect Alice. This brings Alice's estranged father to town for an investigation to prove his daughter's innocence. Meanwhile, the killer, wearing a yellow slicker and doll's mask continues the rein of terror, as he begins to target Alice's family. This is not a typical slasher film as it mixes elements of Catholicism that become essential to the film. That doesn't really matter though, as the film is a terrific whodunit. You find yourself wondering if Alice really is the killer or not. Not trying to give anything away, the revelation truly is a shocking one, as are most of the death scenes in the film. Some of them are just so unexpected and very well done. The performances are also exceptionally wonderful, especially that of 19 year old Paula Sheppard who plays the 12 year old Alice. This is definitely a film I recommend to anyone looking for a tasteful slasher film. It is so different than many others out there, delivering more shocks and thrills than any other film of that time. Originally released as "Communion", and "Holy Terror", it was later released under this title to cash in on Brooke Shields' popularity after the film "Pretty Baby" became a hit. This film is intelligent and entertaining. It truly is ahead of it's time. Highly recommended."