Alice, Sweet Alice

January 30th, 2014 by C. John Archer

Alice, Sweet Alice   ASW vhs 74x120 thriller reviews reviews horror drama Director: Alfred Sole
Writer: Rosemary Ritvo and Alfred Sole
Release year: 1976
Aka title: ‘Communion’ aka ‘Holy Terror’

The guy who narrates the trailer has clearly never seen the film…?

Following the murder of her sister (played by a young Brooke Shields) twelve-year-old Alice Spages (Paula Sheppard) becomes the suspect in the ensuing investigation.

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‘Alice, Sweet Alice’ is a heavily atmospheric part-slasher, part-psychological drama which successful maintains a disturbing undercurrent despite a variety of off-putting shortcomings. The story is markedly if not abundantly complex despite a semblance of simplicity and the hastened pace in the final act elevates the tension and serves to give the film a distinctive, almost unique ambience. It is therefore unfortunate that the rather clumsy mishandling of pace at times detracts from the experience. However, in spite of this flaw the exhilarating, tense and powerful final stages of the movie greatly compensate for previous failings as it becomes one of those movies where the payoff comes through patience.

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Unfortunately, the most glaring failing with the film is the mediocre-to-inept acting abilities of the majority of the cast with Jane Lowry giving a particularly obnoxious, hammed and hard to tolerate performance (incidentally, Ms. Lowry would only appear in one further movie) and central performers Linda Miller, Paula Sheppard and Niles McAster providing only a minor guise of acting competence. It is perhaps unsurprising that few of the cast members had much in the way of a notable career and there is some amusement to be found in the simple truth that the most talented of the assembled performers is killed off quickly.

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Regardless of these flaws, as annoying as they can be, one of the more accomplished aspect of this low-budget chiller can be found in Stephen Lawrence’s masterfully ambivalent score which fuses the enchanting with the malevolent and the tepid with the zealous. The proficient, if not quite polished cinematography and presentation of director Alfred Sole readily combines with the haunting soundtrack to set the tone and ambience of the movie in order to provide a great deal of thrills and chills as what is actually a captivating story unfolds.

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Thematically dark, dealing with some extremely disturbing and mature subjects, the atmosphere is heavy, brooding and inspires feelings of anxiousness as the macabre imagery goads the senses and the grizzly occurrences provoke suitable revulsion which later become pure uncomfortable apprehension when the plot evolves, at times haphazardly, to its conclusion. Alfred Sole’s use of coincidence and camera-trickery aid in causing confusion and manipulating the thoughts and feelings of the audience, casting blame and doubt and leading to question after question.

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The eventual climax, although powerful and impressive, does seem forced and frustratingly awkward. The various sub-plots assist in provoking strong emotional responses and even when all is said and done there is a lingering sense of discomfort as one considers just what has transpired. It isn’t an entirely fulfilling experience due to the way in which the movie has been handled but the climax does seem rather apt given the tones and story.

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Unsurprisingly, this is a movie that has largely been lost in the annuls of cinematic history. For every positive thing about this film there is a negative, leaving a film that when good it can hold its own against some of the era and genre’s more accomplished examples of film-making but is unable to maintain such momentum throughout. That isn’t to say that the film is without merit but it does serve as an example of missed potential. In more capable hands and with a better cast (which likely would have required a higher budget) one can only imagine just how good of a movie this could have been but as it stands while ‘Alice, Sweet Alice’ is worthwhile, even recommended viewing for the horror fan, it isn’t likely to be a film that impresses those with only a casual interest in the genre.


Rating: Alice, Sweet Alice   star thriller reviews reviews horror drama Alice, Sweet Alice   star thriller reviews reviews horror drama Alice, Sweet Alice   star thriller reviews reviews horror drama Alice, Sweet Alice   blankstar thriller reviews reviews horror drama Alice, Sweet Alice   blankstar thriller reviews reviews horror drama

 

Watch the ‘Holy Terror’ trailer on YouTube, where the narrator inexplicably makes out that Brooke Shields is Alice and babbles on about shit that has nothing to do with anything.

 

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