When I was a kid, I was beyond obsessed with pop culture. I loved all the leading actresses and was exposed to many movies, not just horror, that I probably shouldn’t have watched and probably didn’t understand. Getting access to my favorite celebrities wasn’t as easy as it is now with social media and the ever growing popularity of conventions. One of the movies I had seen several times as a kid with was The Blue Lagoon and I was obsessed. While I didn’t understand everything that was going on, I definitely knew not to eat berries off the ground after watching it. That was probably my introduction to Brooke Shields. My favorite hobby was searching mainstream actresses and their filmography to see if some horror gem was hidden in their past. Back then, horror wasn’t what A-list stars participated in unless they needed a check. I discovered she was a very successful child actor and the art work for ALICE, SWEET ALICE came up in my discoveries at the library. Thanks to Arrow Video, a new generation can discover a not so popular early slasher with obvious Giallo influences.
For the uninitiated, two sisters have the typical loving, yet rough relationship in the way that kids can be cruel to each other. Clad in an translucent mask and yellow raincoat, one of the sisters (Shields) is killed during her first communion. All signs point to her sister, Alice, as the culprit, but the film has its angles that there still lies a mystery to be solved. Alice is definitely way more mature than she lets on, especially when it comes to her extremely uncomfortable-to-watch relationship with the landlord. She can take care of herself, but she’s still twelve years old and could be innocent in this whole thing. Throughout this story of who done it, plenty of religious imagery is thrown in and possible suspects arise, even till the very last shot.
I didn’t know anything when I made my dad rent me the VHS, but was surprised to see not only Shields killed off right away, but seeing kids in adult situations on screen. I was impressed and felt like I myself could be in danger. Now, watching this as an adult in my 30s, it still feels rare to have these young actors participate in perverse scenarios. Mixing in the church and crucifixes as significant plot devices make ALICE, SWEET ALICE feel all the more taboo. I love it for that. It holds up with some over the top performances and an actual decent mystery that still holds up.
The new Blu-Ray release has plenty of behind the scenes stories to share, which felt fresh for me as I didn’t know anything about the making of this film. Director Alfred Soles gives a more than interesting interview on how this project came about, beginning with his early start in pornography. His introduction to some of the actors create some amazing stories (including a suicidal cast member who was filming while in the middle of an emotional breakdown) along with the movie’s struggle to reach audiences and multiple releases with different titles. Despite having the ALICE, SWEET ALICE logo on the cover, the title card in the credits states Communion which was the original title until a new distributor came along. For completists, the alternate opening titles are included as a special feature. To add icing on the cake, there was a television version called Holy Terror which also had slight differences included. For a low budget movie that came out in the 70s, this looks better than expected thanks to a new 2K restoration of the original camera negative.
ALICE, SWEET ALICE comes highly recommended for fans, old and new. The release serves as a great way to be introduced and to revisit as the film itself holds up along with substantial special features. ALICE, SWEET ALICE is now available to purchase HERE.
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