Looking back “Alice Sweet Alice” was ahead of its time as it was a slasher film released in 1976, a number of years before the horror renaissance of the 1980s. It features a masked killer taking people out with a large butcher knife, similar to Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s 1978 classic “Halloween”. It also has religious-themed horrors somewhat reminiscent of “The Exorcist”. “Alice Sweet Alice” is a true sleeper hit of the horror genre that needs to be rediscovered.
Paula Sheppard plays Alice whose sister Karen (Brooke Shields) is murdered in the church before her first communion. Although we do get a number of character building scenes beforehand. Their parents are divorced and they live with their mother in a small apartment. Alice feels jealous and left out most of the time as younger sister Karen is the focus of the attention of her mother and from Father Tom, the priest who gives her a cross necklace for her upcoming first communion. Alice torments Karen in a number of ways, stealing her creepy weird doll and scaring her in a similar mask that the killer wears. So when Karen is eventually murdered Alice becomes the prime suspect.
Good slasher films always have a memorable killer. In “Alice” the killer wears a yellow raincoat and a frosted clear face mask with a large butcher knife as their weapon of choice. Alice has a number of run-ins with the apartment buildings landlord Mr. Alphonso. A nasty and morbidly obese pedophilic creep who has murder victim written all over him. Since we are shown a lot of evidence that Alice is possibly the killer, we get the feeling that at some point she will kill him. To help her mother cope Alice’s aunt Anne is staying with them and she and Alice do not get along. So it’s not all that surprising when Anne is attacked in the stairwell and stabbed in the leg. She survives and is convinced that Alice did it. Alice comes off as such a defiant brat you wonder if she really did do it.
Alice is taken down to the police station and given a polygraph test. When she says her dead sister Karen in responsible it shows that she was telling the truth. Alice is sent to live at a children’s shelter and talks with a psychiatrist During this time Alice’s father, Dom, is also helping her mother deal with things. When Dom gets a call supposedly from Alice to come to an abandoned building he sees a person in a yellow raincoat and follows them only to get stabbed and bludgeoned to death. We then find out who the real killer is. I won’t completely spoil it but it is shocking to find out that it’s not Alice, you find yourself saying, her? We get a little back story on her motive and now fear for Alice’s safety as she is now a prime target. Mr. Alphonso is finally killed off but not by the person we thought it would be. The film wraps up back in the church and in front of the whole congregation, Father Tom is stabbed in the neck during communion. During all the commotion Alice places the knife back in the paper bag from which it came from and gives an emotionless stare into the camera. Even though Alice was not “the killer” we find out that she really is not all that innocent either.