ALICE SWEET ALICE (1976), directed by Alfred Sole was originally released as COMMUNION but returned to theaters two years later to cash on the fame of child-actor Brooke Shields. The film is set in 1961 for some reason and has many references to JFK, Jackie and even to PSYCHO. It's also known as HOLY TERROR - but I'd like to rename it PROBLEM CHILD: THE BEGINNING.
The film opens with some real groovy titles - then we visit a rectory where a hunky priest named Father Tom (Rudolph Willrich) lives. Single mom Catherine Spages (played by Jackie Gleason's daughter Linda Miller) and her two daughters Alice (19 year-old LIQUID SKY actress Paula Sheppard playing a prepubescent teen!!!) and Karen (a very young Brooke Shields) are paying a visit.
Angelic Karen will soon make her first holy communion, and the sexy priest gives his late mother's crucifix to her as a gift. I sense some sexual tension between Catherine and Tom. Karen's bratty sister Alice is jealous, and wanders about the rectory - scaring the wacky Italian housekeeper Mrs. Tredoni (Olympia Dukakis lookalike Mildred Clinton) with a really creepy Halloween mask.
Later Alice (who sort of resembles the Downs Syndrome girl "Jill" from the infamous menstruation education film ALL WOMEN GET PERIODS) is seen terrorizing Karen by abusing her toys and locking her in a room. Mom Catherine doesn't seem to react to her daughter's morbid hobbies, possibly because she's distressed about her failed marriage. Things soon go from bad to worse when Karen is strangled at her first communion - by a stranger in a yellow rain slicker and Halloween mask! And I thought vomiting at MY first communion was bad! (This is true - I threw up and they thought I was possessed!)
After Karen is killed, her body is stuffed into some sort of bench, her crucifix is stolen and then her corpse is set on fire with a church candle. Jeez! Where was the Catholic League when this was released???
When Mother Superior sees smoke, she opens the bench and screams - attracting the attention churchgoers including Catherine and her meddling sister Annie (the very effective Jane Lowry). A funeral follows and Catherine's handsome
ex-husband Dom shows up to help. Annie decides to stay with Catherine to help her through this difficult time and to attempt to discipline Alice, who has only gotten more bratty since Karen's murder. Alice then recruits her chubby cousin Angela to taunt the reclusive and extremely overweight landlord Mr. Alfonso (possibly the most disgusting character since Divine played his own rapist in FEMALE TROUBLE). Suffice to say, people who piss themselves should NOT wear white!
Dom begins to work with the cops to solve his daughter's murder, and tries to call Father Tom, but Mrs. Tredoni interferes, with the intention of protecting the priest from getting too involved. Tom later tells Dom that the police suspect Alice is the killer. Back at the Spages' home Alice drops a bottle of milk and Aunt Annie has a shit fit and tells her it's time to go back to school. Alice then puts on her yellow slicker and pays Mr. Alfonso and his cats a visit. After she wrinkles the rent check, Mr. A. tries to feel her up - she responds by picking up one of his cute kitties and throws it across the room, killing it. What a little bitch!I sure hope the Humane Society was there for that scene!
We see that Alice has built an altar in the basement - where she has candles, her mask, her raincoat, a two-face doll, ballet sleepers and other assorted creepy items. This girl needs therapy in a big way.
Aunt Annie heads out during a storm, but as she walks down the stairs she is suddenly attacked by a masked figure who stabs her repeatedly in her legs and feet. She fights back as best as she can, yelling out Alice's name and attracting Mr. A as a witness. Catherine finds her sister lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk just as Dom and Rev. Tom drive up. Good timing, guys!
Later at the hospital, Annie tells her milquetoast husband Jim that Alice tried to kill her. Soon Alice is taken in for a lie detector test. She kinda fails when she tells the cops that she saw KAREN attack her aunt. Huh? Karen's dead...I think. Another disturbing scene follows when two cops discuss Alice's breasts. What the fuck - she's supposed to be like 11 or 12. We later learn that Alice has has her first period. This IS just like the Jill video - except Jill doesn't kill anyone from what I remember.
Catherine and Dom are convinced that Alice is innocent - Catherine thinks Annie just wants to pin it all on Alice because she has always hated the born out-of-wedlock child - and Dom thinks Angela (Annie's daughter) is the slasher. Sparks begin to reignite for the divorced couple, until a phone call from his new wife serves as a cold shower for Dom. Dom then receives a suspicious call from Angela. But the voice on the phone is an adult's - and Dom doesn't notice. Huh? "Angela" tells Dom that she has Karen's crucifix and wants to meet him in an abandoned building. Okay... After believing for an hour that Alice was the slasher, I began to wonder just WHO the masked killer was. Could it be Catherine? Could it be Annie's husband Jim? Could it be Alice? Angela? The sexy priest? One of the cats? I'm stumped!
Dom arrives at the warehouse and is attacked by the slasher (wearing the Halloween mask and the yellow raincoat.) He is soon stabbed in the shoulder and then hit in the face with a brick. Dom is then tied up and pushed out of window. This is so not a good week for the Spages family!
Finally the slasher takes off the mask and is revealed to be...XXXXXXX!!!! HUH??? Wow - I did NOT see that coming! XXXXXXX declares that Dom and Catherine are sinners. During Dom's autopsy, they find Karen's crucifix lodged in his throat, apparently he tried swallowing it to keep it away from the killer. Thanks, we were wondering where that went.
It's soon time for Sunday mass. Alice first stops by Mr. Alfonso's apartment to put cockroaches on his stomach as he sleeps.
Nice. Meanwhile, XXXXXXX packs a knife in a shopping bag and stops by the Spages' apartment. Mr. A wakes up and spots XXXXXXX - and thinking it's Alice, he grabs the killer, who then pulls out her knife and stabs him!!! Well, that's one character I can live without.
Later at church, just as XXXXXXX is about to receive Holy Communion, the slasher pulls out the knife and stabs Father Tom in the neck. The priest falls on the altar and into XXXXXXX's arms. Chaos ensues. In the final shot, we see Alice as she walks away from the altar carrying the shopping bag. Then she pulls the bloodied knife out of it and stares blankly into the camera!!! SUPER CREEPY!!!!
What else can I say about ALICE SWEET ALICE? This movie is fan-fucking-tastic! 10 outta 10. Scary, funny, crazy, sacrilegious - this one's a keeper with or without little Brooke. Thanks to my buddy Mike for helping me recall some of the details on this one.