Alice, Sweet Alice
Director: Alfred Sole
Stars: Linda Miller, Mildred Clinton, Paula E. Sheppard, Brooke Shields
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
Man, do I love the mean, nasty, grimy-feeling horror films from the 70s. While the 1980s will always by my golden era for fright films, there’s something about the bleak darkness of the previous decade that is just so tenably icky. Take this movie, most well known for being the feature film debut of a very young Brooke Shields. It has kids getting killed, children doing very not-nice things, like possibly murder, a pedophile neighbor, Christianity in both a good and bad light, and a truly nightmarish killer. This is the kind of movie that in no way would be made today in these oh-so-delicate and sensitive times, so thank God for Arrow Video putting this out on a new Blu-ray. If you’ve never seen it and are pressed for time, just go and get it; it’s the good stuff. If you already own a copy and want to see what’s new, or you’re curious about a gem of a film that has slipped under your radar, please, continue on.
Alice, Sweet Alice, originally released as Communion and later re-released as Holy Terror, has a very Catholic family getting their youngest (and honestly, favorite) daughter ready for her first communion, but before she can partake, someone viciously murders the little girl. What’s more horrible than that, the chief suspect is the just slightly older daughter. Yes, a little “innocent?” girl. And when more people start dying around their apartment and neighborhood, little Alice looks more and more to be the psychotic killer. After all, what we do see of the murderer is a very small figure in a red…nope, that’s Don’t Look Now…yellow raincoat wearing one of these cheap but creepy as hell clear(ish) Halloween masks of a “pretty lady.” Also, who else could have the motive, other than unstable Alice, to attack her sister, the local pedophile that comes on to her, and her divorced daddy who is investigating the gruesome mystery?
Alice, Sweet Alice is a bit slow by today’s standards, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It wears its Don’t Look Now influence a bit too brazenly on its sleeve, but all of the actors turn in solid work, including the child actors, which always makes me happy. The whodunit mystery is sadly over by the halfway mark, but the rest of the film is still enjoyable. And as stated, the whole thing has that nasty 70s vibe that is sadly missing in today’s films.
Let’s get to those extras that Arrow has put on this new Blu-ray release. First, no one outdoes Arrow when it comes to physical goodies, something that is sadly becoming more rare as the dreaded digital format (*spits on ground*) continues to advance in popularity with the unwashed masses. This disc comes with a slipcase, has the ever-present reversible cover art, a mini poster of the new cover art, and a 23-page, full-color collector’s booklet. I love stuff like that. As for the extras on the disc, the most notable is the 1981 re-release (and slightly re-edited) version of the film, called Holy Terror, in it’s entirety. I love when Blu-rays go that extra mile. Then there are two audio commentaries. One with director Alfred Sole, editor Edward Salier, and fellow filmmaker Bill (Maniac Cop) Lustig who was an assistant special makeup effects artist on this movie. There is also a commentary track with film buff Richard Harland Smith. Then there is an interview with director Alfred Sole that is nearly 19 minutes long, there is an interview with the composer, Stephen Lawrence, that’s 15 minutes long, and an interview with actor Niles McMaster that runs for 16 minutes. There is a featurette on the locations from the movie, a featurette with filmmaker Dante Tomaselli on his connection to the film, a collection of deleted scenes, an alternate opening title sequence, original trailer, a UK TV spot, and an image gallery. Man, that’s a lot of goodies.
Alice, Sweet Alice is a great little horror-thriller, a precursor to the slasher flicks that would follow it (you know, after Halloween “invented” them) that delivers the goods. This is a great hidden horror gem, and this new Blu-ray from Arrow is hands-down and far and away the best edition of the film ever to be released. So I can easily and highly recommend getting this one.