Blu-ray Review: Alice, Sweet Alice | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Alice, Sweet Alice

Studio: Arrow Video

Aug 22, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Paterson, New Jersey, 1961. A young girl (Brooke Shields) is murdered on the day of her First Communion. Her unstable older sister, Alice (Paula Sheppard), is the crime’s primary suspect. As her grieving parents and their local priest try to protect the unpredictable and violent girl from police prodding, more victims are attacked by a mysterious, masked killer. The evidence continues to pile up against their beloved Alice.

Shot on location in his hometown by contractor-turned-filmmaker Alfred Sole, who refinanced his house and emptied his life savings to bridge his budgetary gaps, Alice, Sweet Alice is one of the most artful low-budget horror-thrillers of the period. Though it’s often lumped with the slasher films that were so popular when it was re-released in 1981 to cash in on Brookemania, Alice, Sweet Alice (a.k.a. Communion, a.k.a. Holy Terror) shares more themes with Nic Roeg’s haunting Don’t Look Now—an admitted influence—than seasonal chillers like Halloween or Friday the 13th. Stylistically Alice, Sweet Alice is so in line with the classic giallos of the same era—with its masked killer, creepy photography, and distrustful attitude towards Catholicism—that you’d swear it came straight out of Italy, except for the fact there are no poor, English overdubs to be found anywhere.

Part of what makes Alice, Sweet Alice so special in its crowded genre is its unconventionality. Because it puts the family drama element and police procedural process out in front of its parade of stylish murders, the story doesn’t feel as tired as the well-worn topes found in so many slashers. It’s not just another “creepy kid” horror movie, either—the movie manages to cast constant doubt over the little girl’s guilt, even as she’s terrorizing a neighbor and harming animals. The film’s twists have the capability to shock and surprise all but the most jaded viewers, and a cast of quirky, oddball characters—the family’s cat-worshipping landlord, a dementia-addled priest—keep this 43-year-old movie feeling fresh.

Arrow Video’s hefty Blu-ray release of Alice leaves horror fans with plenty of bonus material to parse through. In a new featurette, writer-director Alfred Sole reflects on the film’s production—just how he pulled off such a professional-looking film with little budget or experience is one of those great stories you only get from independent productions. (Between this and the archival commentary from Sole, you get a pretty cohesive recounting of the movie’s behind-the-scenes.) Also new are an interview with the actor who played Alice’s father, a tribute from Sole’s cousin (and fellow horror filmmaker) Dante Tomaselli, and a tour of the movie’s shooting locations by Fangoria legend Michael Gingold, alongside a massive selection of stills, trailers, promo spots, and a pair of deleted scenes. These are all very nice additions to the movie itself, which has been newly restored for this release and looks outstanding in HD.

(https://mvdshop.com/products/alice-sweet-alice-blu-ray)




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