An unknown killer, clad in World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35 year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.
Alice Spages is a withdrawn 12 year old girl who lives with her mother, Catherine, and her younger sister, Karen. Karen gets most of the attention from her mother, and Alice is often left out of the spotlight. But when Karen is found brutally murdered in a church before her first holy communion, all suspicions are turned towards Alice. But is a twelve year old girl really capable of such savagery? As more people begin to die at the hands of a merciless killer, Alice becomes more and more likely of a suspect. Written by
Columbia Pictures was set to release the movie (as "Communion"), but pulled out for legal reasons. When Allied Artists picked it up, director Alfred Sole demanded a title change so that the audience wouldn't think they were seeing a religious film. The book adaption retains the film's original title. See more »
After Alphonso is stabbed he falls down on a coffee table causing it to collapse. A pair of hands is visible as they catch a falling fish bowl. See more »
Truly disturbing mix of psychosis and anti-catholic vitriol
While most horror films deliver momentary shock, this low budget flick, one of the first to feature Brook Shields, really works. I went around for several days after seeing it very, very chilled by it. Director Sole should be noted for his superb Hitchcockian style(proof that he was influenced by Hitch: a movie poster of PSYCHO, subtly placed in a scene). Camera angles, minor character development, the use of religious imagery to convey a sense of dis-ease--this is one helluva little film. Alice lives with her divorced mother and sister Karen in early 1960's New Jersey. Karen is enjoying all the attentions that normally accompany a Catholic girl's first communion, and Alice, a volatile and moody girl, is jealous of her sister. As Karen waits in an side room with the other girls waiting to enter the church sanctuary to receive her first communion, a figure in a yellow hooded raincoat and clear mask strangles Karen with her rosary, stuffs her corpse in a bench, and places a lighted candle inside with the body. And all in the first thirty minutes of the movie! Of course, Alice is seen slipping into the church late, and the suspicion begins. Has she or hasn't she. The scene where the gruesome burned corpse is discovered is great, with a shot of a fan blowing the smoke into the congregation. The juxtaposition of the sacred with the profane(or insane, as the case may be)was and is disturbing. The scenes in the apartment of Karen and Alice's mother are claustrophobic, as are those in the priest's rooms. The exteriors of city streets are filmed under overcast skies. And the other characters . . . the bald, grotesquely obese landlord, who mopes around his apartment in urine-stained bermuda shorts with numerous cats while playing selections from SHOWBOAT on a Victrola, could have been the main character in another horror film. But a big part of this film's disturbing vibe comes from the stridently anti-Catholic tone. The fact that the killer attacks and kills Karen in a church on her first communion is bad enough, but the tone is such that Catholic ritual and tradition takes on an insane, chilling patina. Psychosis and tradition meld into a weird brew that gives more chills than a dozen chainsaw wielding maniacs. If you crave an intelligent, well-crafted pyschological horror film brimming with disturbing atmosphere and twisted imagery, this is the one.
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