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Alice, Sweet Alice

By Sean Axmaker

Paula Sheppard is Alice, a pouty, petulant problem child at that awkward age living with her precocious little sister Karen (Brooke Shields) and single mom. When Karen is murdered during her first communion and Alice takes her place in line, suspicion immediately falls on her. Then a diminutive killer in a yellow slicker and opaque mask continues the reign of terror, and Alice's estranged father takes up the investigation to prove her innocence. Director Alfred Sole has acknowledged a debt to Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now, but Alice, Sweet Alice is really in the Hitchcock mold, a stylish, smartly executed psychological suspense thriller. The violence is rarely graphic but often grueling and always harrowing, and the deaths reverberate through the film in genuine and sometimes hysterical outpourings of grief. Even when Sole reveals the killer's identity in a startling moment halfway through ( la Vertigo), the tension never lets up. The original title of the film, Communion, better captures the Catholic elements of guilt, sacrifice, and redemption that become central to the film (another tip to Hitchcock). Only a couple of grotesque caricatures (notably an obese pedophile landlord) and a few rough moments (largely special effects scenes, likely due to budgetary constraints) mar this otherwise intelligent and well executed thriller. The DVD also features an insightful commentary track by director Alfred Sole and editor Edward Salier and an alternate credits sequence (identical but for the film's title), as well as brief biographies and filmographies and a stills gallery.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Alfred Sole

Stars: Brooke Shields, Tom Signorelli, Louisa Horton, Paula Sheppard, Mildred Clinton, Linda Miller, Lillian Roth

Released: February 24, 1976

Availability: DVD VHS


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