ALICE, SWEET ALICE (COMMUNION)
(director/writer: Alfred Sole; screenwriter: Rosemary Ritvo; cinematographer: Chuck Hall/John Friberg; editor: Edward Salier; music: Stephen Lawrence; cast: Linda Miller (Catherine Spages), Mildred Clinton (Mrs. Tredoni), Paula Sheppard (Alice Spages), Niles McMaster (Dom Spages), Rudolph Willrich (Father Tom), Alphonso de Noble (Mr Alphonso), Jane Lowry (Aunt Annie DeLorenze), Brooke Shields (Karen Spages), Lillian Roth (Pathologist), Gary Allen (Jim DeLorenze), Louisa Horton (Dr. Whitman), Michael Hardstack (Detective Mike Spino), Tom Signorelli (Detective Ray Brennan), Gary Allen (Jim di Lorenzini); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Richard K Rosenberg; TMC (Allied Artists Pictures); 1976-UK)
“Well-crafted, eerie, thinking man’s slasher flick, about a dysfunctional devout Catholic family under attack from an unknown assailant.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Alfred Sole (“Deep Sleep”/”Tanya’s Island”) co-writes with Rosemary Ritvo and competently directs this well-crafted, eerie, thinking man’s slasher flick, about a dysfunctional devout Catholic family under attack from an unknown assailant. It’s set in 1961.Suspicion falls on the psychologically troubled 12-year-old meanie Alice Spages (Paula Sheppard) for killing her younger sweet sister Karen (Brooke Shields, film debut) during her First Communion ceremony at St. Michael’s in Paterson, NJ. Before the communion Alice was seen viciously bullying her sister. The police investigate and are convinced Alice was wearing a yellow slicker and mask, and after strangling her sister dumped her body in a church pew and burnt her alive. When the hostile Aunt Annie (Jane Lowry) is attacked while staying with the grieving mother of Karen, Catherine (Linda Miller), she is badly wounded with numerous stab wounds from the butcher knife attacker who was clad in a yellow slicker and mask. Auntie identifies the attacker as Alice. The fat slob landlord (Alphonso de Noble) who witnessed the attack, concurs. Alice is sent to a juvenile facility and is treated by the prison psychologist Dr. Whitman (Louisa Horton). The disturbed kid swears she saw Karen commit the knifing, which is not contradicted by a lie detector test. The father of Karen and Alice, Dom (Niles McMaster), who has remarried, returns for Karen’s funeral and stays over in a hotel, playing detective to prove his daughter is not the killer. The dad gets sympathy from the compassionate priest, Father Tom (Rudolph Willrich), a friend of the family. But dad’s killed in a grisly fashion, which gets Alice freed from jail. The cops watch the Spages house, but even if they can’t stop the next killing they get a look at the unhinged killer unmasked. I can’t say I bought completely into the repressed killer’s crazy motive for going on the killing spree, but the film caught my interest by realistically portraying how vital a part of the community the Catholic Church can be for believers, how disturbing were all the family scenes where love was not an easy thing to give and how children might suffer for the mistakes of their parents.
REVIEWED ON 7/20/2016 GRADE: B