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|Index||90 reviews in total|
21 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Seriously underrated 70's chiller, 19 December 2004
Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
"Alice, Sweet Alice", unfortunately listed here under its more tame alias "Communion", is a modest but sublime thriller that excellently fits in the superior horror decade that were the 70's. It's in fact a thriller with just that tad bit extra Despite of the modest budget Alfred Sole had to work with, his film doesn't look dated like many others and the influence it had on the slasher sub-genre is amazing. Who killed little Karen Spages during her first communion service? This question with a seemly obvious answer keeps you entertained and especially frightened throughout almost the entire film. Too bad the story loses some of its impact around the hour, due to a few tedious sequences and unexciting dialogs. Luckily, Sole rapidly continues where he left off and delivers us a truly marvelous finale where even Hitchcock himself would show respect for. There's a terrific catholic atmosphere and symbolism featuring in this film, stressed extra by the chilling musical score. Although the movie more or less became famous because it introduces Brooke Shields, it's in fact Paula E. Sheppard who gives away a flawless and imposing acting performance as Alice. She has this brilliantly nihilistic glance in her eyes that makes you feel uncomfortable. "Alice Sweet Alice" is definitely a film I would recommend to every horror fan. It contains several highly memorable sequences like, for example, all the ones involving the fat filthy and perverted neighbor. Fundamental horror viewing for Gothic lovers.
19 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Easy To Miss, Hard To Forget., 31 May 2006
Author: youshotandywarhol from Oregon
"Alice, Sweet Alice" (aka "Communion"), is an excellent horror film. It
was years before "Halloween" and "Friday the 13th", and for some reason
this movie stuck with me. I saw it years ago, and just re-rented it
recently, and found it to be better on the second viewing.
This film revolves around Alice Spages, a 12 year old girl. She comes from a divorced, strict Catholic family, and her little sister, Karen, gets most of the attention, while Alice is sort of left in the dark. We get the idea that Alice might have some problems and you can surely tell she is jealous of her sister. Then, on Karen's first holy communion, she is strangled to death and lit on fire in the church by someone wearing a yellow rain slicker and a creepy plastic mask. The police believe Alice had something to do with her sister's murder, and commit her as their target. Then, the mysterious person in the yellow rain slicker strikes again, this time stabbing Alice's Aunt while she's walking down the stairs of an apartment complex. As more murders continue, we begin to question - could a 12 year old girl really be capable of murder? Or could it be someone else?
I can say this movie is pretty disturbing, seeing an innocent girl murdered in a church before her first communion is quite sinister. Director Alfred Sole gives the viewer some heavy Catholic imagery throughout the film, contrasting it with the brutal events taking place. There is obviously much thought and detail put into the complex characters, as well as the complicated but intriguing plot. The score is extremely eerie, just listening to the score alone is enough to give anyone the chills. Without the score I think this movie would have lost much of the ambiance that it has. Alice's sister, Karen, is played by a very young Brooke Shields, and this movie is probably most known for having her name branded on it, even though she dies very soon in the film. Paula Sheppard (who was actually 19 years old at the time) plays Alice, Karen's violently jealous sister, and her performance is probably the best of the entire film. I absolutely loved the staircase attack on Alice's aunt, it was unexpected and very well done.
Overall, "Alice, Sweet Alice" is an effective Catholic shocker that has been either forgotten about or is very unknown. A spooky score, some eerie religious imagery, and a brutal staircase slashing make this a complete classic. I was lucky enough to be able to pick up the Anchor Bay DVD release, because now it's long out of print and nearly impossible to find. The DVD release is great, if you're able to get your hands on it (for a reasonable price), definitely get it. 9/10.
14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Compelling until the final body falls, 4 December 2005
Author: fertilecelluloid from Mountains of Madness
This is a brilliant, original, thought-provoking horror movie that has
festered in obscurity for some time. Despite a laserdisc release and a
slew of alternate titles -- "Alice Sweet Alice" and "Holy Terror" are
but two -- it is still virtually unknown.
At the time of its release, PR wags made a big deal that it featured Brook Shields in her first on-screen role. PR wags did not make a big deal of the fact that there had not been anything like it ever before and that it featured an amazing newcomer, Paula E. Sheppard, in a chilling role as a deeply disturbed schoolgirl who may or may not be responsible for a slew of gory murders. Add to those a strong Catholic subtext and hints of child abuse and you've got one incredible ninety minutes of mental and physical mayhem.
Director Alfred Sole, who also made the flawed but fascinating "Tanya's Island" and the rotten "Thursday the 12th" (aka "Pandemonium") creates unbelievable tension and always places his characters (who are very well written) before the horror. Plotting, characterization and suspense are so expertly mixed the film doesn't even feel like a genre piece at times ; instead, it feels like a European drama...but one circling a potent giallo.
As noted, Sheppard is superb as Alice; Linda Miller is exemplary as Alice's tormented mother Catherine and Jane Lowry as the domineering Aunt Annie turns in a powerhouse performance. And playing Alice's obese, perverted neighbor to chilling perfection is the late Alphonso DeNoble. The scene in which he comes close to molesting Alice is priceless for its economy and authenticity.
From the excellent photography to the super-creepy score by Stephen Lawrence, "Communion" is compelling until the final body hits the church floor.
14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Finest of it's kind..., 13 December 2004
Author: camporineb1 (email@example.com) from United States
"Alice, Sweet Alice" is the first horror movie i ever saw, and i've seen many since. But nothing, in my book, compares to this classic, as-yet-undiscovered little gem. First off, the acting is SUPERB, and Puala Sheppard's portrayal of Alice is close to flawless. Second, the atmosphere is amazing, offset by an excellent and eerily haunting musical score. If you are a fan of 70's horror, this one is the best of it's kind, not only for the aforementioned, but also because it captures the essence of the 70's both in it's rainy, New Jersey setting, and in the grainy feel of the way it was filmed. Talks of a proposed sequel to this movie are in the works for 2005, and although it will most likely be doomed to straight-to-video hell, i am still eagerly anticipating it with high hopes. Original and entertaining, although some may find it slow paced for their taste, i gave it 10/10 *'s because in my opinion, it's a near-masterpiece.
8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Children Shall Pay for the Sins of Their Parents, 21 June 2008
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Alice Spages (Paula Sheppard) is a rebel and problematic twelve
year-old girl that lives with her divorced mother Catherine (Linda
Miller) and her younger sister Karen (Brooke Shields). Catherine gives
more attention to Karen, neglecting her older daughter. During the
first communion of Karen, the girl is strangled by a woman dressed with
a St. Michael's yellow coat and a mask. Alice takes her place in the
line wearing her veil that she claims she had found on the floor and
becomes the prime suspect of the police. When Catherine's sister Annie
(Jane Lowry) is stabbed on the leg several times, she accuses Alice and
the girl is sent to psychological evaluation under the protest of her
parents and their friend Father Tom (Rudolph Willrich). Alice's father
Dominick Spages (Nies McMaster) seeks evidences to prove the innocence
"Communion" is a creepy and stylish horror movie of the 70's and practically the debut of Brooke Shields in the cinema with a minor but important participation. The dramatic story discloses insanity through weird characters in a period of heavy rain and using the Catholic principles of communion, sin and guilty, giving an atmosphere that recalls Dario Argento's movies. The relationship among Catherine, Father Tom and Dominick is not clear, especially because the Catholic Church requires celibate from the priests. In one moment, Catherine is ready to leave town alone, and she says to Father Tom that Alice would be better with him, giving an indication that Alice might be Tom's daughter. If my guess is right, the behavior of fanatic Catholic Annie that apparently blames Catherine for getting married pregnant of Alice is explained, and the conclusion is perfect, with Mrs. Tredoni saying that "children should pay for the sins of their parents"; calling Catherine of whore; and stabbing Father Tom. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Comunhão" ("Communion")
Note: ON 29 May 2012, I saw this film again on DVD.
10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
One of the most powerful horror films ever made!, 29 May 2007
Author: alanmora from United States
From beginning credits to the final segment, Alfered Sole's "Alice Sweet Alice" is a chillingly gripping horror flick. With it's haunting soundtrack, alarming murder scenes, and horrifying Catholic imagery this movie will be forever embedded in your mind. It also boasts the very first screen appearance of a young Brooke Shields, who has a very brief role as young Karen Spages, a young girl who is brutally murdered in church during her first Communion. This murder sets the pace for the entire film. There are no wasted segments or "fillers" in "Alice Sweet Alice" each scene is essential and captivates your attention. The characters grab your attention as well from the morbidly obese Mr. Alfonso the landlord to the manipulative and constantly interfering Aunt Annie. Of course, the character of Alice is the most intriguing as the viewer wonders whether this strange young girl is truly capable of cold blooded acts of murder or is there something even more sinister happening? There are lots of surprises and shocks that will grab the attention of first-time viewers and leave most horror fans coming back for more and there is also a surprisingly generous amount of blood-letting in this film. This film came in at #88 on Bravo's list of the top 100 scariest moments in cinema history.
11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Truly disturbing mix of psychosis and anti-catholic vitriol, 28 February 2001
Author: thomandybish from Weaverville, NC
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.
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Put that knife down. You might as well just use a crucifix., 25 April 2007
Author: lost-in-limbo from the Mad Hatter's tea party.
When young Karen Spages is strangled and set on fire in a Catholic
Church at her first communion, her disturbed older sister Alice is the
central suspect, because of her jealously towards her. Her estrange
father Dominick arrives in town for the funeral. Catherine her mother
and Dominick believe Alice is an innocent victim, but when her Aunt
Annie is attacked by someone in a yellow slicker and plastic doll mask,
she believes it's Alice. The police take Alice in, where she tries to
convince them that Karen is alive and stabbed Annie. And their lie
detectors goes on to prove it. Dominick with the help of father Tom try
their best to investigate just who might be behind the actual attacks.
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.
8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant from the Atmospheric Opening Credits to the Chilling Final Frame, 7 June 2001
Author: marquis de cinema from Boston, MA
Creepy little sleeper that's heavily inspired by Nicholas Roeg's seminal
Don't Look Now(1972). There is a lot of focus on the motif of innocnece and
guilt. One of the most religious horror films ever made. The ideals of the
church play a prominent role in the plot of the film. Like in Don't Look
Now(1972), there is the image of a child with a rain coat wearing a mask.
Every character in the film with the exception of Father Tom is unlikable
and unsympathetic. The main character Alice is the creepiest protagonist to
appear in a horror movie. There is a interesting Oedipus relationship
between Mrs. Tredoni and Father Tom.
The direction by Alfred Sole is excellent and the story is compelling to follow. Linda Miller does a fine job as the mother of Alice, Catherine. There are some parts of the film that remind me of the giallo, Don't Torture A Duckling(1972). Both Alice Sweet Alice(1976) and Don't Torture A Duckling(1972) deal in their own way with the loss of innocence motif. Better than most horror movies done in the mid to late 1990s. The late Paula E. Sheppard gives a powerful and scary performance as the title character, Alice. The murder scenes are well filmed and realisticly staged. Alice Sweet Alice(1976) was known mostly as the film debut for future model and actress Brooke Shields.
The character of Karen is extremely unlikable. Its easy in the first act of the story to sympathize with Alice because she treated horribly by her mother compared to her sister. Brooke Shields plays her character very well. The attempted murder of Aunt Annie played by Jane Lowry is stylish and unpredictable. Alice although not a murder by the end of the film is someone who is capable of murder. The mask worn by the killer predates the masks worn by the murderer in Halloween(1978), and Valentine(2001). Even some parts of the story reminds me of Halloween(1978). Alice Sweet Alice(1976) is an emotionally fullfilling horror pic that has developed a cult following over the years.
9 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
A thrilling and over-looked gem., 24 July 2006
Author: AngryChair from Brentwood, USA
Terrifically good sleeper horror from director Alfred Sole rises to a
level much higher than it's low-budget appearance.
Is young Alice the masked murderer that's targeting her family?
Communion, better known as Alice Sweet Alice, is an engulfing and sharply-made shocker that seems to have been lost over the years. The story is a splendidly twisted murder mystery that boasts a good amount of suspense and some well-rounded characters. Sole directs this movie with some true skill and style, with lots of inventive cinematography and making great use of the rustic filming locations of Paterson, New Jersey. He also uses the imagery of the killer's mask and the catholic symbols in a creepily effective manner. There's plenty of good shocks to be had in this film as well, in fact the horrific stairwell-knifing is powerful to Hitchcockian proportions. This film is so well-made that it's a wonder Sole hasn't gone on to become better known in the cinematic world. The elegant music score is also a great addition to this thriller.
Cast-wise the film is great as well. Paula Sheppard (who was 19 years old at the time) plays her bratty 12 year old character very convincingly. Linda Miller is strong as Sheppard's understandably distraught mother. Mildred Clinton is excellent as the stern house keeper. Niles McMaster is good as Sheppard's estranged father, as is Jane Lowry as the hateful aunt. Rudolph Willrich is also memorable as father Tom. Look for young Brook Shields as Alice's little sister.
Communion is a striking and haunting little thriller that deserves a wider audience. For horror and thriller fans a like, it's a great find!
*** 1/2 out of ****
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