director Alfred Sole
Alice, Sweet Alice is a vivid, well-shot and well-edited giallo-tinged proto-slasher shot on location in Paterson, NJ. Set for some reason in 1961, the Catholic Church looms large over the lives of a divorced mother and her two daughters, 12 year old Alice (Paula E. Sheppard) and 9 year old Karen (Brooke Shields).
With long brown hair, the girls could almost be twins, but Karen is the pretty goody-goody and Alice, well, she’s got a lot of anger issues. Brooke Shields was a child, but Sheppard, an intense young lady who could pass as a child was 19. The children are all too real, fighting and taunting and cruel and whiny.
Alice shows signs of psychological disturbance even before the killing starts. The film is loaded with insinuated child abuse and its psychological fallout, played out against the backdrop of Catholicism and a very dreary New Jersey.
“This kid is nuts!”
In the end, it’s maybe more brilliant, emotional and lurid, than logical. But Alice, Sweet Alice feels psychologically real and manages shocks along the way.
Three final points:
1. This would make a total double feature with Paterson (2016).
2. You’ve got to read the bio of Alphonso DeNoble, the obese and sleazy landlord. Such a strange and tragic life!
3. If anything, the one movie that this really reckoned of for me was The Bad Seed, in a variety of ways.