Alfred Sole may only have directed four features throughout the duration of his career, but his remarkable contribution into the pre-Slasher cycle with ALICE, SWEET ALICE has solidified his name in Horror. ALICE, SWEET ALICE shares much more in common with the stylish and moody Giallo out of Italy than it ever does with the average American Slasher, though it does possess several of the standard conventions that would reappear throughout the 80's.
At the beginning of the film, we meet Karen, the beautiful younger sister to Alice, who is preparing for her First Communion. Alice is desperately jealous of her kinder and cuter sister, but her jealousy is cut short when Karen is found murdered in the church foyer. All suspicion falls on Alice, who is taken into police custody after her distrustful aunt is stabbed on the staircase leading to their home, but when the killings continue, the police realize there may be more to the murders than just a simple case of sibling rivalry...
Sole's subversive themes and cynical views on religion help to give the film its dark and brooding tone as the characters deal with their own moral struggles. Sin and vice with the prospect--and denial--of forgiveness are essential to the meaning of the film, giving the original title of COMMUNION a far greater context in relation to the plot. Tension and suspense take all forms, with a killer in a yellow rain slicker stalking the characters in dark hallways and dilapidated warehouses, while a repulsive neighbor forces himself upon the young girls in the complex. Poor Alice is constantly misunderstood, but her negative cries for attention make her suspect for the crimes. A pivotal moment comes early on in the script, where Alice moves up to the alter to receive communion only to be refused due to the sudden commotion caused by her sister. This constant sense of rejection is evident everywhere in Paula Sheppard's performance, and helps to build on the growing mystery behind the killer's identity. The reveal in the end draws clear influence from both Hitchcock and Nicolas Roeg's film DON'T LOOK NOW, but subtle clues that are easily overlooked in initial viewings become much more apparent upon reproach.
ALICE, SWEET ALICE should be considered amongst the top-rated Slasher films of the 1970's, with strong characters and an intelligent design that sets it apart from the standard genre fare.
If you liked ALICE SWEET ALICE, check out:
THE CONFESSIONAL, THE HOUSE WITH LAUGHING WINDOWS, DON'T TORTURE A DUCKLING.
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