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Alice, Sweet Alice [VHS]
Alice, Sweet Alice [VHS]
VHS
Offered by JamesHarvey Fast dispatch from the UK
Price: £5.95

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Underrated landmark in the horror genre, 8 July 2003
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AN underrated, unsettling tale of murder, suspicion and the macabre, this is a seminal horror film.
It focuses on 12-year-old Alice Spages (Paula Sheppard) who is accused of murdering her younger sister Karen (Brooke Shields) before her First Communion and then of viciously stabbing her Aunt Annie.
We view a masked killer in a yellow raincoat committing both acts and it seems obvious that Karen - who was the last person to see her sister - will be implicated as the perpetrator.
She is suspected due to problems at school, jealousy of her sister, resentment of her mother (whom she thinks favours Alice over her) and her generally odd behaviour.
Karen is questioned by police and named by her Aunt as the mystery attacker, however in its genuinely frightening conclusive stages, doubts gather as to the person who carried out both deeds. And although the person responsible is seemingly uncovered, an unforeseen climax suggests that any pre-conceived notions over the murderer's identity may have been unfounded.
It's absorbing viewing and although never positively unnerving until its latter half, Alice, Sweet Alice contains many distinctive characteristics.
The use of a religious setting and ecclesiastical imagery - which has faint echoes of both The Exorcist (1973) and in a way Rosemary's Baby (1968) - coupled with the surreal, gory nature of the killer's acts, does make for an unusually tense atmosphere.
Alice herself is a potent source of terror. Indeed it would not be an exaggeration to say that Paula Sheppard's chilling performance is redolent of Sissy Spacek's wonderfully scary display as Carrie in Brian De Palma's 1976 classic.
With her piercing eyes and fixed stare, she is monstrously creepy every time the camera focuses on her.
Alice is not the only bizarre character in the film, which is extremely well cast with a number of physically (and mentally) distorted participants, not least the obese and possibly perverted Mr Alphonso and Mrs Tredoni, who possesses a genuinely perturbing demeanour. It also marked the first screen appearance of Brooke Shields, who was nine when she played Alice's sister Karen.
Music also plays an integral part in the film, with its haunting main theme a very effective component of creating an eerie aura.
Possibly its most notable feature is the use of the masked killer, which pre-dates Halloween (1978) and adds an extra layer of intrigue to what is already a subtly fascinating premise.
It also established that the look of the killer (in this case a yellow raincoat and cherub faced child's mask) was almost as important as the actions he/she/it carried out.
And in this regard, Alfred Sole's film was to serve as a reference point and undoubted influence for many - including Friday the 13th (1980) and My Bloody Valentine (1981) - of the sometimes mis-labelled 'slasher' films that were successful largely between 1978-1983.
In conclusion, I believe that Alice, Sweet Alice is a landmark film in several aspects and should appeal to anyone with an interest in the horror genre.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2013 7:18 PM GMT


Irreversible [VHS] [2002] [2003]
Irreversible [VHS] [2002] [2003]
VHS

23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Controversial, if sometimes dull, 4 April 2003
IN a way, Irreversible is a straightforward tale of rape and revenge. However it's not quite that simple, as due to two highly controversial and provocative scenes, Gaspar Noe's film has become notorious.
Whether it deserves notoriety is debatable. One thing that is for certain, however, is that it will divide opinion and disgust and titillate in equal measure.
Using an interestingly different narrative structure (a la Memento) it starts at the beginning and rewinds to the end, outlining the relationship between Alex (Bellucci), her boyfriend Marcus (Cassel) and her former lover Pierre (Dupontel).
Its two pivotal moments come when Alex is barbarously raped and Pierre savagely kills a man who he believes is the rapist, after hunting him down with Marcus, who is consumed with bloody revenge upon learning of the attack.
Without these two scenes, Irreversible is a somewhat unremarkable affair, in fact, it's even dull. Pierre, who wants Alex back, lusts over her and predictably disapproves of her courtship with Marcus, who, as we view when the trio are at a party, has a penchant for drug taking and has a blase attitude towards his girlfriend.
Alex's rape dramatically alters everything and in a particulary repugnant and tortuously long scene, she is sodomised in the most brutal fashion and then battered to a pulp in an unprovoked and sickening attack. Marcus and Pierre go after the perpetrator and upon finding the man who they believe is responsible, Pierre, who ironically tries to calm Marcus, attacks him with frightening venom, bashing him repeatedly with a fire extinguisher until his face turns to mush and his body lays lifeless.
Now whether this double whammy of graphic sex and violence is sheer aimless depravity and misogynstic wickedness for no reason or a depiction of unflinchingly raw realism is indeterminate. There can be no arguing that the sequences don't have some kind of impact however. Anybody who has seen and survived intact from watching Pasolini's famous Salo or the Last 120 days of Sodom, Zeir Marchi's I Spit On Your Grave or Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left should be relatively unaffected by what happens on screen, others however may be unprepared and choose to abstain from watching.
Whatever your viewpoint, Irreversible, though stylistically messy and purposefully disorientating, does have merit and is unmissable, if only for its ability to shock and repel.


Gridlock'd [VHS] [1997]
Gridlock'd [VHS] [1997]
VHS
Offered by dyerwilliams
Price: £4.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An endearing, if not always profound, film, 2 April 2003
This review is from: Gridlock'd [VHS] [1997] (VHS Tape)
A trio of small time musicians are forced into evaluating their lives after their dalliance with drugs turns into a disaster.
The trio of Cookie (Thandie Newton) - the group's vocalist, Spoon (Tupac Shakur), who plays double bass and is also on vocals and Stretch (Tim Roth), the band's keyboard player, are plunged into crisis in the film's opening sequence due to their substance abuse. In a dramatic beginning Cookie is comatose and in such a perilous physical condition that she literally has to be dragged to a hospital by Spoon and Stretch.
The action then focuses on the duo's somewhat half-hearted attempts to ease their dependence on drugs, while Cookie, we presume, makes a full recovery.
Stretch is seethingly sardonic about the seemingly endless layers of petty bureaucracy that the pair have to face to enter a drug rehabilitation programme, however neither he, nor Spoon have much time to mull over the many obstacles in their path after they rip off a local drug dealer who seeks deadly retribution.
The film flits between the past and the present using still photography to link between different scenes. We're taken from the smoke-filled jazz club where the triumvirate perform to the grimy, litter filled streets of Detroit as Stretch and Spoon fruitlessly attempt to get some help for their substance habits.
It's a relatively interesting affair, that although certainly not ground breaking nor necessarily insightful, has an endearing quality.
This is mainly due to the main protagonists, as Roth and Shakur occupy the screen for the majority of its running time and the latter's charisma filters into every shot, illuminating the drab locations that the duo prowl.
Shakur, as you would expect given that he was a rap artist, copes easily with the colourful colloquial language that peppers the script and although Roth's American accent does waver at times, he reprises some of the subdued fury he exhibited in his startling film debut, Made in Britain (1980).
There is a genuine camaraderie between Roth and Shakur, whose credible performance suggested that he was destined for larger acting roles. His untimely and extremely unfortunate death denied him the chance to fulfil the latent potential he also displayed in Juice (1992).
Ice Cube's cogent showing in the excellent Boyz N the Hood (1991) demonstrated that rappers were capable of making the transition to the big screen.
However aside from Eminem, who was entirely plausible as an actor in 8 Mile, no other microphone controller (MC) has made the meteoric leap into movies with any large degree of success.
Pretenders like DMX (Exit Wounds) and P Diddy (Monster's Ball) have made fairly egregious attempts to break into the turbulent waters of the Hollywood sea, however neither, it appears, will ever sail confidently in such hostile and unforgiving territory.
And in a way that makes Tupac's premature passing even more poignant.


Ghost World [VHS] [2001]
Ghost World [VHS] [2001]
VHS
Offered by dyerwilliams
Price: £4.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A glorification of unpopularity, 14 Oct. 2002
ENID (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlet Johansson)are decidedly underwhelmed when they finish high school.
They appear to be carefree, aimless individuals, who have seemingly given no thought with what they are going to do with their lives.
So they pass the time by pretending to stalk people, annoying their 'friend' Josh (Brad Renfro) at the local shop and making sarcastic comments all day.
Out of this lazy boredom they decide to play a cruel prank on Seymour (Steve Buscemi) who has placed an advert in the personal section of the local newspaper.
However the joke backfires as Enid starts to grow fond of the awkward loner, with the huge vinyl record collection and vast array of pointless artefacts.
And their burgeoning friendship takes many strange turns that will lead them both to find a purpose for their lives.
Above all GhostWorld is a glorification of unpopularity. It celebrates the outsider and recognises the fact that abnormality does exist in the usually saccharine sweet world of American films that focus on teenagers.
It is peppered with caustic comments and huge dollops of humour, as Enid refuses to conform and Seymour frequently admits his own shortcomings.
GhostWorld is the antithesis of films like American Pie, where everyone bows to the consensus, instead it triumphs oddity and idiosyncracies.
At times its uncomfortable characters compare with those in Todd Solondz's dark masterpiece Happiness (1998), although thankfully things don't turn out quite so badly for Enid and Seymour in this wonderful film.


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