Friday, 27 July 2012

Priests, masks, strange little girls...

Priests, masks, strange little girls, yellow raincoats, big knives and guys with creepy attitudes towards women, what does that say to you?

Well, I have finally watched Alice, Sweet Alice aka Communion (1976), and I think this is a great example of an American giallo.

I'm not sure why I feel like I've watched it before, unless it's because the feeling I get from it is similar to what I got from watching Chabrol's Blood Relatives. I was sad to see that its director, a Hitchcock hommage-iste (hmmm I think I just made that word up) Alfred Sole didn't direct much else, but it's not a surprise that he did go on to be a production designer such is his eye for detail and beautifully framed scenes, and surprisingly for ladies costume; when I started watching this movie I was bit perplexed as to why the ladies were wearing such stylish suits, then a glimpse of a 1961 calendar in a detectives office answered my question, but I think it's quite unusual to find such authentic looking costumes in what is really a 70's horror movie.

It is queasily camp and hilariously stylised in parts (the scene with the large landlord leerily tried to kiss sweet Alice while a scratchy record of a strange and strangled opera plays on a Victrola seems to recall similar scenes from Charlie Chaplin's Mutual films where Eric Campbell terrorises a young female.

The effect of using the diminutive 19 year old actress Paula E. Sheppard (Liquid Sky) as the supposedly 12 year old Alice swings from disturbing to ridiculous and back again, her sullen wide eyes and pale face will not easily be forgotten. Don't look now (hint hint) - but I will definitely be placing this on my Giallo shelf.

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