31 Days Of Hell: Alice Sweet Alice AKA Communion (1976) - Reviewed

If You Survive This Night... Nothing Will Scare You Again” [1]. Alice is a weird and socially withdrawn 12 year old who doesn’t receive the same attention as her younger Sister Karen (Brooke Shields). When Karen is murdered and set on fire in church before her first communion, the suspicion is geared towards Alice. As more murders begin to pile up by a killer wearing a yellow rain coat and Halloween mask, Alice ends up the most likely suspect. Is she really the killer, or could there be another suspect?

This is amazing piece of filmmaking that was highly influenced by various British studios and the directors Alfred Hitchcock and Nicholas Roeg. The yellow rain jacket was specifically taken from Roeg’s film Don’t Look Know. It’s an American movie that has a European look and could be considered the most Giallo of any American production, even though it wasn’t directly inspired by them. It was filmed in Patterson, New Jersey and there is such amazing style and composition in the exteriors and interiors of these buildings. The director was from the area and had worked on rehabbing a lot of the buildings, so he had been scouting out these locations way before the actually filming had begun.

It features a wonderful cast of characters, mostly consisting of veteran New York stage actors. Mildred Clinton, Linda Miller, and Paula Shephard are all excellent in their respective roles. These great performances along with exceptional direction, shot placement, nice close ups, superb editing, a creepy killer outfit, and a beautiful Hitchcock inspired score make this more than just the typical slasher picture. It is a great mystery as we try to discover the truth about if Alice is truly the killer. Without spoiling anything, the killer’s reveal and murder sequence is truly the best moment in this and easily rivals any of the Hitchcock motion pictures.

It went through a sort of distribution hell. It was picked up by Columbia Pictures at first and then dropped over a dispute from the lawyers that owned the rights. It then went to Allied Pictures who changed the title from Communion to Alice Sweet Alice because test audiences thought that the title made them think that it was a religious picture. The lawyers also forgot to copyright it so it went through the same issues as Night of the Living Dead did, with various versions being released by different companies over the years. It was also rereleased multiple times with alternate titles whenever Brooke Shields had something popular come out.

This really should be considered a masterpiece of horror that didn’t get a proper release despite receiving positive reviews from critics.

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