“Psycho playing at the local theater is but the most pronounced of Alfred Sole’s Hitchcockisms, his viciously fraught frames showcase the Catholic boy’s eye for disfiguring guilt and sacrament. Every image is more ornate than expected.” — Fernando F. Croce, cinepassion.org
The grimy tiled kitchens and brick tenement houses of Paterson, New Jersey become the stomping grounds of unruly girls with stolen veils and a diminutive serial killer in a raincoat and a translucent plastic mask in Alfred Sole’s American giallo ALICE, SWEET ALICE. The director’s first film since being excommunicated from the Roman Catholic diocese of Paterson, ALICE, SWEET ALICE strikes out against the Church’s hypocritical gatekeepers and oppressive symbolism in this story of a mischievous twelve year old girl (Paula Sheppard) blamed for the brutal murder of her more beloved younger sister (Brooke Shields) on the verge of her first communion.
Though the promo material at the time of its re-release in 1981 luridly milked Brooke Shield’s post-BLUE LAGOON fame, this is Alice’s movie. Sheppard gamely plays an ambivalent hellion who’s either as bad as everyone says or the victim of unfounded prejudices about illegitimate children — if she’s a monster, she’s of the Church’s own making. An architect before he was a filmmaker, Sole makes great use of the city’s rundown gothic buildings in some elaborate cat-and-mouse horror set pieces. Grim, tightly-crafted, and pulpy, the film is equally at home riffing on classier thrillers like DON’T LOOK NOW and steeping in a creepy Catholic iconography that’s all its own.
Content warning: this film contains depictions of pedophilia and suggestions of child sexual assault.
None Currently Scheduled