Alice Sweet Alice (1976)

alicesweetaliceShot in Paterson, N.J., this regional horror indie is best known for being the film debut of Brooke Shields, age 11 at the time of its release. What it should be known for is being a solid fright flick, better than a majority of the studio-funded efforts of that time.

Shields (briefly) plays Karen, murdered during her first communion by someone in a yellow vinyl raincoat and a cheap mask from the five-and-dime. Suspicion falls like an anvil on her older, less-adored sister, Alice (Linda Miller, Night of the Juggler), who “has a knack for making things look like accidents.”

alicesweetalice1Police detectives, one of whom has an office decorated with pages torn from nudie mags, investigate the crime — or crimes plural, as Karen is merely victim No. 1 in a string of attacks, the next of which takes place on a stairway. This sequence is well-executed (no pun intended) by director/co-writer Alfred Sole (Pandemonium), and perhaps the highlight. A close runner-up would be any featuring the family’s morbidly obese landlord (Alphonso DeNoble, Bloodsucking Freaks), a character so pathetic that he eats cat food from the tin and whose shorts bear permanent, prominent urine stains.

Alice Sweet Alice is as much a murder mystery as it is a slasher pic, but Sole errs by solving the whodunit portion far too early (and it was exactly who I thought it was). His manner of mixing the two genres yields an oddball soufflé — slightly flat in the middle, yet still tasty. —Rod Lott

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