6.5/10
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118 user 118 critic

Alice, Sweet Alice (1976)

Communion (original title)
In 1961 suburban New Jersey, a withdrawn adolescent girl is suspected of her younger sister's brutal murder during her First Communion, and a series of subsequent stabbings.

Director:

Alfred Sole

Writers:

Rosemary Ritvo (original screenplay), Alfred Sole (original screenplay)
3 nominations. See more awards »

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A little girl is murdered, and everyone in her Catholic community starts accusing her black sheep, asocial sister, Alice. Alice's grief-struck mother, Catherine, has to try to cope, but if Alice isn't the killer, then who is?

Director: Dante Tomaselli
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Linda Miller ... Catherine Spages
Mildred Clinton Mildred Clinton ... Mrs. Tredoni
Paula E. Sheppard ... Alice Spages (as Paula Sheppard)
Niles McMaster ... Dom Spages
Jane Lowry Jane Lowry ... Aunt Annie DeLorenze
Rudolph Willrich Rudolph Willrich ... Father Tom
Michael Hardstark Michael Hardstark ... Detective Spina
Alphonso DeNoble Alphonso DeNoble ... Mr. Alphonso
Gary Allen Gary Allen ... Jim DeLorenze
Brooke Shields ... Karen Spages
Louisa Horton Louisa Horton ... Dr. Whitman
Tom Signorelli Tom Signorelli ... Detective Brennan
Lillian Roth ... Pathologist (as Miss Lillian Roth also)
Patrick Gorman ... Father Pat
Kathy Rich Kathy Rich ... Angela DeLorenze
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Storyline

Alice Spages is a withdrawn 12-year-old girl who lives with her younger sister Karen and their mother Catherine. Karen gets most of their mother's attention, and Alice is often left out of the spotlight. When Karen is found brutally murdered in a church before her First Holy Communion, Alice is in the spotlight of suspicion, but is a 12-year-old girl really capable of such savagery? As more people die at the hands of a merciless killer, Alice's family and the police don't know what to believe. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A story of unnatural love...and unnatural death. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

13 November 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Holy Terror See more »

Filming Locations:

New Jersey, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$340,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Harristown Funding See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (unrated)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Paula E. Sheppard, who played 12-year-old Alice, was 19 during the making of the film. See more »

Goofs

While Father Joe is saying the climactic Mass, he repeats the Penitential Rite ("Domine,non sum dignus": Lord, I am not worthy) twice. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Tredoni: [Alice scares Mrs. Tredoni with a grinning mask] Oh, you nasty child! Out of my kitchen!
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the ending credits there is no music and the screen doesn't turn black, the last frame of the film remains in the background forever. See more »

Alternate Versions

The Brazilian release of the film is fully uncut, but has different music in the opening credits. See more »


Soundtracks

Three Little Fishies
By Kay Kyser
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Put that knife down. You might as well just use a crucifix.
25 April 2007 | by lost-in-limboSee all my reviews

When young Karen Spages is strangled and set on fire in a Catholic Church at her first communion, her disturbed older sister Alice is the central suspect, because of her jealously towards her. Her estrange father Dominick arrives in town for the funeral. Catherine her mother and Dominick believe Alice is an innocent victim, but when her Aunt Annie is attacked by someone in a yellow slicker and plastic doll mask, she believes it's Alice. The police take Alice in, where she tries to convince them that Karen is alive and stabbed Annie. And their lie detectors goes on to prove it. Dominick with the help of father Tom try their best to investigate just who might be behind the actual attacks.

Alfred Sole's effectively accomplished direction, atmospheric handling and astutely symbolic, psychological tampered plot really do go real long way to covering the flawed aspects of the commendable production. In what might have damage other films, only goes on to be a minor quibble here because there are so many glowing factors, which are amazingly pulled off for an impressive low-budget effort. This is one of my favourite 70's horror oddities, which breaths a fresh air in its premise's circuitously glum layout, an ominously nasty streak, purposely stinging jolts and being filmed on authentic locations in New Jersey.

What makes the unusually cunning and certainly unpredictable plot compelling, is that so much can be read from it, like it's penetrating thoughts on Catholicism too the prolific character developments involving the hardships of family life, but there's no lying about its true intentions, which did kind of got mingled with the baffling conclusion. Making repeat viewings a must, to pick up on those minor details. Some fundamental devices in the plot show up; the usual police investigation is the glaring one, but it never draws away from the main focus and adjustably installs itself into the material. There are some odd and eccentric characters written in also, which catch onto the emotional ride. Some might think the tension will evaporate, as just after halfway through the killer is unmasked, but the story's slow rising sinisterness early on eventually leads to a brooding intensity that actually seems to fester up, for the thrilling final third with one powerful conclusion to boot.

Sole does a vividly lucid job in the director's chair with moody imagery, creative viewpoints and uneasy composition, backed up by disquietingly stylish jolts timed with utter perfection. However in spots it can drag with it's deliberately slow pace and a densely thorough script, which can labour along. Maybe it was a tad too long. Also illustrating the film's disorienting air and unsettling suspense was John Freeberg's gracefully skilled cinematography and Stephen Lawrence's playfully chilling, but occasionally harrowing musical score, which expertly went hand-to-hand to craft out an overwhelming tenor. The killer goes around in a shiny yellow slicker, white gloves and the chilling doll mask they wear, actually gives me the creeps. The performances are noting to write home about and might be gauche in some cases, but there's no denying that the matchless Paula E. Shepherd is startlingly convincing as the creepy Alice. Linda Miller does exceptionally well as Alice's heart-aching mother Catherine and Niles McMaster brings a solidarity to his performance as Alice's stalwart father Dom. Jane Lowry can get fittingly overbearing as the haughty Aunt Annie and the unforgettable Alphonso DeNoble keeps it all vile as the grubby landlord. Even with the high billing that Brooke Shields receives, her debut performance is efficient and her death memorable, but not worth all the fuzz for only 15 minutes. Mildred Clinton, Rudolph Willrich, Michael Hardstark, Tom Signorelli, Lillian Roth and Gary Allen go on to give able support.

An uncomfortably staggering affair with many dimensions to its story and inspired craftsmanship by Sole and co, which go on to make it a very good unappreciated gem of the 70s.


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