Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Alice Sweet Alice (1976)

Anyone else ever feel down when you follow a bunch of new blogs and none of them follow you back? I mean, sure, bloggers have a right to not follow back, but seriously, where’s the support? “A stat for a stat”, so to speak… But not to worry, I don’t mind. New followers should be people who are actually interested in reading your blog, and I’ll admit to being a little jealous of other blogs sometimes, especially ones that have followers I’d love to have, but I’m not so jealous that I’d do anything rash, or at least I hope no one thinks I would. I don’t want to end up like Alice, the main character to an insane slasher film known as ALICE SWEET ALICE, whose little sister turns up murdered after being showered with gifts and attention. Naturally, the suspicion is thrown on poor little Alice. 

ALICE SWEET ALICE is a child themed murder mystery that feels influenced by the popular Giallo films of its era and features a masked killer, a creepy doll, bloody knives, and religious iconography. Despite nearly every scene being shot during the day, ALICE SWEET ALICE also contains a dark ambiance unique to horror films of the time that was prevalent in films like THE EXORCIST. I think what I’m trying to say is that this is a pretty good slice of the best that 70s horror/thrillers has to offer. 

The film initially paints the main character 12 year old Alice (played by a then 19 year old Paula Sheppard, who is a much more convincing child character played by an adult than Peter Bark from BURIAL GROUND) as neglected and with good reason to be jealous of her younger sister Karen (Brooke Shields in her first ever role). After standing by with a “what about me expression” on her face while Karen receives a pretty crucifix necklace from the priest Father Tom (Rudolph Willrich) and a brand new white dress for “First Communion”, it really starts to feel like Alice is being left out, and her frustration and teasing towards her little sister almost feels understandable. Whether or not Alice went through her first communion in the same manner is unknown, but being that this is a pretty religious family, I imagine she did. So maybe she’s just a brat who doesn’t know when it’s other people’s turn for attention.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mario Bava's Lisa and the Devil (1974)

Picture this. You’re on a vacation in Toledo, at a crowded town square with a large group of tourists you’ve just spent the last several hours with on an uncomfortable stuffy bus ride.The tour guide is exhibiting an old fresco of the devil, whose face seems peculiar and unforgettable and looks like that one actor who used to play Kojak. Out of nowhere, an irresistible and soul warming melody catches your attention, and you can’t help but stray from the group and pursue its source. Your curiosity has led you to an antique store where a lovely music box is emanating a most attractive sound. Upon inquiry to the shop owner, you learn that the music box is not for sale but belongs to a customer standing before you, who to your concern, happens to carry the same face you beheld in the fresco. After leaving the shop, you now have a complete disoriented sense of direction amidst an endless winding labyrinth of cobblestoned alleyways, without any sign of the town square where you had the comfort and safety of being in a group. Strange folk you come across shun you, avoid you, and treat you like you’re invisible. 

Now you are lost and all alone, but this isn’t by mistake, he has chosen you and you are in his world now, for he is your only guide. You might as well make the best of it and try to look forward to what’s in store….. Surely bizarre and exciting adventures must lie ahead….. I’d also feel flattered if I were you, since it’s likely he thought you the fairest and prettiest of the bunch. 

What has just been narrated to you is my interpretation of the set up to a high-body-count Gothic thriller from Mario Bava called LISA AND THE DEVIL, a visual feast from a cinematographic master that is full of memorable sequences that uncontrollably pummel the viewer with some of the greatest “Oh my God!” moments, ever. Allow me to attempt to manifest in words why this film kicks much ass, without giving too much away.