Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Alice, Sweet Alice - Not In My Church

Alice, Sweet Alice (also known as Communion and Holy Terror)… Wearing a yellow raincoat will never been the same again. Neither will be wearing cheap, dollar store masks (pre dollar store) or saving insects in a jar… or murdering a sibling or relative and then, seemingly, getting away with it.

First off folks, this is from an era of movies that I hold above most. I love the mid 70’s for low budget, non franchise associated slasher flicks especially when there are religious overtones and a chance to revisit, as if opening a time capsule, life just before I was conceived. I was born in 1980. I have few memories short of some pretty terrible decorating/carpet decisions and some wicked hairstyles (that I’ve seen only in family photo albums). Why did I have to wear that damn sailor suit? Were those strangely overly large glasses necessary? Was that dress on sale or did somebody cut up the curtains again? So when I get to watch a movie from this era I get a treat probably akin to the way people feel about 50’s nostalgia.

The story revolves around a little girl who kills and maims. She's clearly a bad seed in need of “psychological help”. I mean who wouldn’t kill their sister in a church, hide the body in there and light it on fire with a candle? Truly a case of a sibling rivalry with anger as her motive and the perfect disguise to shield her identity (cheap mask and raincoat); Alice exacts her child like revenge on unsuspecting victims. What is Alice’s motive? Her menstrual cycle as some would suggest or deep, underlying trauma as Alice suggests? Get ready for this tootsie roll pop of a picture because this world may never know. You’ll know there’s a twist from the outset of this picture. Guess what it is and you get a communion wafer and some cheap vino.

Maybe it’s that this one is near and dear to me because it’s set forty five minutes down the road in beautiful Patterson, NJ. Maybe it’s the delicate piano music that transitions between shocking scenes and romantic interruptions extenuated by bassoon interludes (the composer went on to loftier, much coveted work as composer for… Sesame Street). Maybe it’s Brooke Shields… a classmate of mine had a signed picture of Ms. Shields when we were in grade school; I was always envious of it for no particular reason. Maybe it’s because of Alice, Sweet Alice? Maybe it’s because the box art is quite frightening. It was always on the top shelf at Long Valley Video. I could never reach it. It wasn’t because the cover had something different than the movies on the lower shelves. Really it was just a circumstance brought on by the alphabet, but it gave it that ere of mystery.

The costume work feels like it must have influenced Scream. It’s not as planned as ghostface but is destined from the start to be considered a face of horror. Oh and who places a jar of cockroach on a sleeping fat man? That’s just disturbing… more disturbing than that same fat man being murdered…. And you’ll never guess by whom? Definitely disturbing. This one’s got it all figured out, but those poor goldfish… Was that really necessary? Such brutality. Might as well kill a priest and then give him a great big hug in front of an entire congregation with children present… I mean you might as well!

-Dr. Jimmy

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