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Film / Alice, Sweet Alice

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If You Survive This Night... Nothing Will Scare You Again.
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Alice, Sweet Alice (1977) is an American psychological horror film that was first released as Communion in 1976, then as Alice, Sweet Alice in 1978, and as Holy Terror in 1981. It is noteworthy for being the feature film debut of Brooke Shields.

When a young girl named Karen is brutally murdered in the church where she was to receive her first Communion, the only suspect appears to be her older sister Alice, a strange and withdrawn girl who was jealous of the attention their mother gave Karen, and happily tormented her in retaliation. But could a 12-year-old girl be capable of such savagery? As more people die at the hands of a merciless killer, Alice seems more and more likely as a suspect, while her grieving father works to prove her innocence.


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Alice, Sweet Alice contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: This mid-70s movie is set in 1961.
    • Present-Day Past: ...though the fashion does little to indicate this. Alice and Karen wear their hair long that's indicative of the hippy movement, none of the women are sporting bouffants or beehives, and the men have medium hair with sideburns; a type of hairstyle that wouldn't be popular for men until at least the much later 60s.
  • Ax-Crazy: Mrs. Tredoni is revealed to be the killer, committing murders under the delusion of punishing sinners.
  • Bastard Bastard: Alice was conceived before her parents actually married. It is implied that her status as a child out of wedlock has earned her the ire of her Aunt Anne who was vocal about the circumstances of her conception, and is perceived as an outcast among a largely Catholic community. Her lashing out at school and taking out her frustrations on the more favorable Karen is probably due to feeling she was ignored.
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  • Black Comedy: Alphonso's death which is Played for Laughs and causes a massive Mood Whiplash as it comes after the death of a major character.
  • The Butler Did It: Mrs. Tredoni, a housekeeper to the priests and the monsignor, is the murderer.
  • Creepy Doll: Karen has a three faced baby doll that Alice likes to hide from her. It wouldn't be so creepy if not for the uncanny expressions each face the doll makes.
  • Daylight Horror: All of the committed murders took place on a bright sunny day. Aunt Anne doesn't count because one, it was a very rainy day and two, she doesn't die in the end.
  • Death of a Child: Karen is killed early in the film.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The movie has fun with this trope.
    • It seems that Alice could be the movie's Villain Protagonist but she is the Red Herring and spends the second half of the movie in a psychiatric ward.
    • Dom, the father then tries to clear her name and gets offed two-thirds through the movie.
    • Alice then returns towards the end though but doesn't cause any major effect on the plot.
    • Ultimately, it could be said that the real protagonist is Alice but a Useless Protagonist at that except for her causing Alphonso's inadvertent death.
  • Dirty Old Man: Alphonso attempts to molest Alice when she goes to give him the rent money.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mrs. Tredoni killed Karen just because Karen's parents had Alice out of wedlock and still remained Catholic. In general, she seems to be after the entire family for being "sinners" and kills Dom due to this reason as well, and Annie's stabbing was the result of being mistaken for Katherine, Karen and Alice's mother.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The movie ends with Alice finding Mrs. Tredoni's knife and looking into the camera, indicating that, now proven innocent of murder, she might become an actual murderer.
  • Enfant Terrible: Alice. Not terrible enough to be the killer though.
  • Foreshadowing: When Alice was put through a lie detector test, she answers "no" to being asked if she stabbed her aunt, and the machine doesn't respond, indicating that she answered honestly. It's one of the first clues that assumes Alice's innocence, and the subsequent questions also make her out to be a Bad Liar, so there's no way she could've cheated on that question.
  • Freudian Excuse: Mrs. Tredoni's daughter was killed during her first communion, so she does the same to Karen, believing that children pay for the sins of their parents. The sin in question is for having a child (Alice) out of wedlock, so it's assumed that Tredoni had her daughter before marriage, and erroneously attributed her daughter's untimely death as God's retribution for her sin.
  • Giallo: The director, Alfred Sole, was clearly inspired by Dario Argento and the movie feels more like a giallo than a standard slasher film.
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • Alice, due to the more attentive treatment of her little sister. She also got rather upset at the fact that her sister was receiving her first communion when she, herself, didn't making it all the more reasonable to point her out as a possible suspect.
    • Tredoni seems to be obsessed with keeping Father Tom close to the church that she considers the Spages a total nuisance, despite the fact that they had just lost a daughter. Her obsession proves to be fatal as she was revealed to be Karen's murderer, and Tom becomes the final victim, as if to have him all to herself.
  • Henpecked Husband: Jim, Aunt Anne's husband, rarely gets a word in edgewise from his naggy and overbearing wife.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: Tom gets it from the killer.
  • Jerkass: Aunt Anne and Mrs. Tredoni. The latter turns out to be much worse though.
  • Knife Nut: The killer's weapon of choice is a simple kitchen knife.
  • Knight Templar: Mrs. Tredoni who is this crossed with The Fundamentalist.
  • Mistaken Identity: It's later inferred that Annie got stabbed by Mrs. Tredoni because the killer thought she was Katherine due to both having similar hairstyles. Regardless, this works in her favor because it looked like Alice stabbed her aunt after being too strict with her.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There is the Father (priest) and Alice and Karen's father, their names being Tom and Dom, respectively. Both are important characters, that eventually get killed, pretty unexpectedly yet nobody mixes them up.
  • Parental Abandonment: Dom, Alice and Karen's father, is usually away and seemed to contribute as to why Alice kept crying for attention.
  • Red Herring: Alice. A weak one would be Angela.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Mrs. Tredoni serves coffee to Katherine that's implied to be spiked. Tredoni makes the excuse that she doesn't drink coffee after breakfast when she's asked why she doesn't have some. Father Tom comes home just in time before Katherine could take a sip.
  • The Unfavorite: Alice to Aunt Anne. Katherine confronts to her that Anne hated Alice because Katherine was pregnant with her when she got married.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Tredoni killed Karen.

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