Title: Alice, Sweet Alice
Dir.: Alfred Sole
Producer(s): Edward Salier
Writer(s): Alfred Sole, Rosemary Ritvo
Company: Allied Artists
Starring: Linda Miller, Paula Sheppard, Lillian Roth, Brooke Shields (first film), Niles McNaster and Jane Lowry.
A movie about family.
A movie about sibling rivalry.
A movie about religion.
A movie that’s a whodunit with kills thrown in.
1976’s Alice Sweet Alice (which also goes by the name Communion and Holy Terror) is one interesting and ballsy movie.
I’ll say this upfront: a movie like this couldn’t or wouldn’t be made today or even remade/rebooted. It would be quite controversial to have a movie where religion, especially Catholicism is at the front and center and children being killed (spoiler alert). In a world we live today where it’s very sensitive and people will immediately criticize, I’m amazed this movie got made at all. Some films in the same realm would be The Omen, The Brood, Children of the Damned, Pet Sematary, The Exorcist, Children of the Corn, The Good Son (not a horror but definitely thriller) and others where children are the antagonists (or it’s perceived as one) and it’s a touchy subject. Anything where children are at risk is a bold move to do.
What I love mostly about this movie is the use of color. There’s a lot of posts so far where I go on and on about the color uses and this movie is included. The idea of a yellow raincoat (referencing the film Don’t Look Now) against deep reds , blues and architecture of a church with high ceilings and glass art. There’s beauty in the scenes of Shields’ character decked out in white and lace, such innocence and purity portrayed in the scene. The last 20-30 minutes of the film is shocking.
There are some beautifully shot moments.
I don’t think I mentioned this but the store of Alice, Sweet Alice is basically murders happening within a story about a family where… one child is clearly favored over the other. It does remind me a lot of Don’t Look Now where again, murders are happening around the main story of a couple dealing with the loss of their child. And Alice, Sweet Alice references that film amazingly. There’s also this interesting undertone of Argento thrown in. Suspiria did come out a year later than ASA however he did start working in the 1970s in the giallo genre and now looking back at his filmography, the film Deep Red is the closest to be influenced by.
Alice, Sweet Alice is very dream like and I can see Deep Red and Don’t Look Now as influences for this movie. So if you have not seen either of those films, please do so and read the short work by Daphne du Maurier which eventually was turned into Don’t Look Now.
Back to the movie.
The stand out is the use of color. Who would think to use a bright yellow raincoat as the killer’s signature with a clear mask that has blush, eye-shadow and lipstick as the face? It’s an iconic silhouette and look. That’s what the movie does well; it establishes a “look” and it’s very underrated. The camera angles are interesting and different, there’s a lot of mystery and pointing of the fingers at certain characters and the deaths are quite brutal. It’s one of those 70s horror films that for the culture, for the time period, the landscape, it falls into the genre of The Hills Have Eyes/The Last House on the Left/The Texas Chainsaw Massacre/It’s Alive genre of it’s a “too real” of a horror movie.
Alice, Sweet Alice will keep you on your toes. It will keep you guessing. It will confuse the fuck out of you.
It’s not a super strong movie with cinematography but what is there is quite good.