Blu

Alice Sweet Alice

United States: 1976
Original Title: Communion
Directed by: Alfred Solé
Screenplay: Rosemary Ritvo, Alfred Sole
Actors: Linda Miller, Mildred Clinton, Paula E. Sheppard
Publisher: Rimini Editions
Duration: 1h47
Genre: Thriller, Horror
DVD/BR release date: September 23, 2022

Alice Spages, 12, lives with her mother and her sister Karen, whom she loves to scare. Karen is about to celebrate her first communion when her body is found horribly mutilated in the church. Some think that Alice could be behind the murder, but how could such a young child commit such an abomination? However, the murders continue in Alice’s entourage…

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The film

[4/5]

Made manifest by the reuse of the motif of the little girl in raincoat (red for one, yellow for the other), the influence that Don’t look back (Nicolas Roeg, 1973) on the plot and staging of Alice Sweet Alice (Alfred Sole, 1976) does not really lend itself to discussion. It also seems obvious that Alfred Sole carefully studied the style of Nicolas Roeg’s film: the whole construction of his film is based on the diversion of the viewer’s attention that Roeg used to tilt the narration and catch the viewer off guard. at the right time.

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However, it also seems that with Alice Sweet Alice, Alfred Sole had the idea of ​​giving back to Caesar what belonged to him, abandoning all the psychoanalytical part and the reflection on the notion of “vision” at the center of Roeg’s film, and keeping only the part inherited from Dario Argento and the first “Gialli”. Thus, if many contemporary critics and observers tend to classify Alice Sweet Alice in the category of Slashers (it would in fact be placed chronologically just between BlackChristmas and Halloween), we can also consider that this is not the case, for two reasons.

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On the one hand, it is necessary to differentiate the slasher from the psycho-killer movie: the recurring rules and patterns of the Slasher were made clear by John Carpenter with his masterpiece Halloween in 1978, then taken over the chain by many filmmakers for many years. By its form, its recurring motifs and its themes, the Slasher always displays a relatively “recreational” aspect, which most psycho-killer films do not have, on the other hand, which capitalize enormously on their characters of deranged killers, and n ‘re not frankly inciting laughter – since Psychosis (Alfred Hitchcock) and The Voyeur (Michael Powell), both made in 1960, many films of psycho-killers have followed one another on the screens: one thinks for example, among others, of films such as The Honeymoon Killers (Leonard Kastle, 1970), blind terror (Richard Fleischer, 1971), frenzy (Alfred Hitchcock, 1972), maniac (William Lustig, 1980), Nightmares in Daytona Beach (Romano Scavolini, 1981), Schizophrenia (Gerald Kargl, 1983) or even Henry, portrait of a serial killer (John McNaughton, 1986). Quite obviously, Alice Sweet Alice would fall more into this category. And if certain films can be located at the crossroads between the slasher of the psycho-killer film (one thinks for example of the chainsaw sadist by Juan Piquer Simón, 1982), this is not at all the case with Alice Sweet Alice who, despite the chain of murders that he shows us, always remains very serious, psychological and first degree in his intrigue.

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On the other hand, Alfred Sole’s film incorporates numerous typical Giallo elements: the color codes, the fact that the story is essentially carried by female characters, the structure in the form of a whodunit, the fetishism surrounding the killer’s gestures, rituals and accessories, but also violence and sadism – one of the characters still has his teeth knocked out with bricks! So, rather than considering Alice Sweet Alice as a precursor to slasher, we would rather tend to consider him the first American “Giallo”, even if of course this paradox has something to smile about. The atmosphere of the film, clearly unusual for an American film, is also coupled with an extremely fluid narration, as well as a few well-felt little spikes denouncing the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church: this aspect may certainly seem a little provocative and excessive to some viewers, but moviegoers who appreciate the freedom with which so many American films of the 70’s mixed different genre elements in an attempt to create something special will not be disappointed: it is indeed impossible to predict what what will happen in Alice Sweet Alice, and some sequences even develop a fairly effective suspense (the pursuit of Angela, the ending at the church, etc.). Moreover, and to add a small layer to the parallel between Alfred Sole’s film and the great classics of Giallothe anti-religious bias that we perceive in the film could make it a sort of mirror of The long night of the exorcism (Lucio Fulci, 1972).

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In France, the site Encyclo-Cine teaches us that Alice Sweet Alice was released in theaters in 1984, while remaining unpublished in Paris. Most moviegoers, however, discovered the film on VHS in the 80s, first under the title bloody communion (at the house of VCL in 1980, then at Rocket Pictures / Initial), but also under the title Alice Sweet Alice (at the house of Proserpina in 1985, Cinema Collection in 1989, then at IFC and Wire to Film). The film was also broadcast on TV in the spring of 1989 as part of the program dedicated to horror cinema “Sangria” (formerly “Les Accords du Diable”) on The Five by Berlusconi. Following the cessation of The Five in 1992, M6 would relaunch the principle of the program by creating “Les Jeudis de l’ anguish “. many years later, Alice Sweet Alice would eventually be released on DVD, accompanying the magazine MadMovies in 2008, allowing a new generation to discover the film…

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The Blu-ray + DVD + Booklet Combo

[4,5/5]

Fourteen years after its release on DVD, Alice Sweet Alice finally arrives on Blu-ray under the colors of Rimini Editionswhich for several years has offered us High-Definition upgrades of films released with MadMovies. Note also the care taken in its packaging, which stands out from the outset as a classy object that you will be proud to display on your shelves: the film is presented in a pretty three-fold digipack, topped with a sheath in the colors of the film. This is a Combo Blu-ray + DVD + Booklet unpublished 10-page signed Marc Toullec, putting the film in a rather brilliant way in its shooting context.

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On the Blu-ray side, the work done by Rimini Editions on Alice Sweet Alice is remarkable: the publisher indeed offers a copy of great beauty, respectful of the original grain but allowing the sharpness to express itself with all its precision, the whole being surmounted by natural colors and solid contrasts. Alfred Sole’s film is also naturally offered in the respected 1.85 format, the definition is not a problem and the blacks are dense and remarkably well managed. All in all, very nice technical work. On the sound side, we are entitled to two mixes DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 both in VF and in VO, offering an excellent acoustic reproduction of the atmosphere of the film. The whole is also mixed without breath or parasitic noise, the dialogues are perfectly clear, and the subtitles do not suffer from any particular problem. The original VF, full of charm and well-known voices, will delight fans.

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On the side of the supplements section, we will find a presentation of the film by Gilles Gressard, writer and film historian (24 minutes). After quickly returning to the “psycho-killer movie” and movies about evil children (Innocents, The other, The rebels of the year 2000…), Gilles Gressard will therefore place Alfred Sole’s film in its shooting context, notably by explaining a little about the life of the filmmaker, and his relationship to the town – and the church – of Paterson, in New Jersey. He will also discuss the parallel with Don’t look backthe problems encountered during filming (budget concerns, Linda Miller’s suicide attempt, etc.) and will return to the essentials of the film’s cast, in front of and behind the camera – thus, and even if IMDb does not specify, he will tell us, for example, that William Lustig held the role of assistant director and responsible for special effects on Alice Sweet Alice.

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Blu-ray Review: Alice Sweet Alice – Film Review