Alice, Sweet Alice is the Pick of the Week

A highly overlooked 1976 slasher headlines a week of interesting releases.
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When discussing the slasher genre, the obvious classics: Halloween (1978), A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984), Scream (1996), and most notably the granddaddy of them all: Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), always comes to mind. However, Alice, Sweet Alice, director Alfred Sole's 1976 chiller, is not usually on most horror fans' lips. It should be, because it is an unusual blend of terror and religious iconography that will creep you out. It's certainly not for everyone, but that's beside the point. It's also a slow burn filled with eerie uncertainty that brings to mind Don't Look Now (1973), which I think Sole was heavily influenced by. The film is mostly famous for being Brooke Shield's film debut, yet it's so much more than that. It is a really disturbing experience that contains one of the scariest masks ever created and came two years before Halloween. 

Although it was released on several DVDs and Blu-rays, I think that the Arrow release will be the definitive edition. Some of the special features contain two commentaries; new interviews with Sole, actor Niles McMaster, and filmmaker Dante Tomaselli; a location tour where the film was shot; alternate cut; deleted scene; trailer and TV spot, among others. There is also a new essay by film programmer Michael Blyth. This should be a worthy addition to anyone's horror collection; it is a very underrated gem that is ripe for rediscovery.

Other notable releases:

An Angel at My Table (Criterion): Jane Campion's harrowing autobiography of Janet Frame, New Zealand's most celebrated author, who goes from destitution to a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia, to a narrowly escaped lobotomy, to finally achieving literary stardom.

Gods and Monsters (Lionsgate): A moving and compassionate portrait of the final days of James Whale, the celebrated director of Frankenstein and 20 other films in the 1930's and '40s, who was openly gay at a time when homosexuality was kept on the down low, who meets and befriends a handsome, muscular gardener.

The Front Page (Kino Lorber): A tabloid newspaper editor tries to prevent his top reporter from retiring, while an escaped death row inmate shows up to prove his innocence.

Don't Look Now (Studio Canal): Nicholas Roeg's 1973 horror classic about a grieving couple who go to Venice after the death of their daughter. There, they undergo terrifying, unexpected, and increasingly dangerous experiences which leads to a devastating conclusion.

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