Malice, Sweet Malice

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Don’t let the title fool you…Alice (Paula Sheppard) isn’t really all that sweet. She’s a holy terror. She lies, steals, breaks things, sasses her elders and walks around wearing one of those creepy clear plastic Halloween masks and a Don’t Look Now raincoat. She’s always been jealous of her cutie pie little sister Karen (Brooke Shields) so when Karen is murdered at her first communion everyone assumes Alice did it. Or did she? Questions mount along with the body count in this wicked little thriller reminiscent of Hitchcock (director Alfred Sole did write for the 80’s revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents) and giallo films. Niles McMaster (Bloodsucking Freaks) plays Alice’s daddy. Ex-wrestler Alphonso DeNoble (also in Bloodsucking Freaks) is unforgettable as Mr. Alphonso the sleazy landlord. (There’s usually one character in every horror movie who’s so repugnant that audiences cheer when they get theirs. That’s Alphonso alright.) Paula gives a compellingly complex performance as the troubled Alice…sometimes sympathetic, sometimes cruel…vulnerable, charmingly rebellious, annoyingly bratty, creepy, tragic…one of the few fully realized characterizations of a child you’ll find in movies. I loved this movie as a kid, back in those ancient VHS days…and I appreciated it much more this time around…

 

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