Amid chants of "Oh, B.W., you apropos motherfucker!", I give you Alfred Sole's best movie, a religion-based period slasher full of atmosphere that's set in his hometown of Paterson-friggin'-New Jersey, of all places, here at the Wop on the holiest day of the week. Nevermind that this, like Romero's original Night of the Living Dead (1968), turned up as one of those vhs titles that suddenly flooded the Halloween market of every cheap department store in all sorts of dollar releases back in the nineties, what we have on our hands is no less than a competent giallo-esque study in brutal violence and shocking death of Hitchcockian proportions that stands as one helluva white knuckle ride, at any damned price.
"Two communion wafers?? God candle-strangles those who help themselves to His body in gluttony!"
Catherine (Linda Miller) really has her hands full with her two daughters, Karen (Brooke Shields), a whiny little princess about to receive First Holy Communion, and her older sister Alice (Paula Sheppard), a schizophrenic bully who keeps cockroaches as pets in a jar in the basement and terrorizes her sister in a yellow raincoat and translucent Ben Cooper-style mask. Naturally, when Karen is violently rubbed out with a votive candle then set ablaze inside one of the pews (...talk about overkill) by someone in that very same ensemble, accusatory eyes all fall upon Alice, who just so happens to have her sister's veil stuffed in her pocket as her sister's smoldering body is screamingly discovered. The case for her innocence is not helped much when her zealous Aunt Annie (Jane Lowry) gets shanked up in the building hallway, by someone wearing the aforementioned weird disguise. Catherine's ex-husband, Dom (Niles McMaster), returns in time for his daughter's funeral, decides to stay until her killer is found, and is later lumped up with a pair of bricks, hogtied, and chucked face first into some empty liquor bottles from a high window for his troubles.
"I thought she was self-assured, and I really like that in a person...'til I saw her smoking in a bench compartment. Blew my whole image of her."
Meanwhile, the adolescent Alice is being pawed by the landlord, Mr. Alphonso (Alphonso DeNoble), a morbidly obese cat food-devouring egghead freak, the local pervo detectives are ogling her pubescent tits, and she's locked away to be psychoanalyzed, to boot. It's only when her father turns up smooshed in a back alley, with Karen's missing crucifix necklace lodged in his throat, that she's begrudgingly crossed off the list of murder suspects, to the horror of Aunt Annie, Alphonso, and most of Patterson, New Jersey, it would seem.When Alice is released, she abruptly dons the suspicious costume and gives her pet roaches a shore leave pass on a sleeping Alphonso's massive midsection, just as the real killer, in identical garb to Alice's, is sneaking into the building, to add Catherine to the growing list of victims. Aghast at his new pudge pouch-passengers, Alphonso lumbers screaming into the hallway, in time to bump into the killer, who perforates him full of air holes with a sizeable butcher knife before escaping into the street. The nearby detectives spot the suspect, sans mask, and set up a dramatic sting during Sunday mass in a wild finale that'll leave you well satisfied, after all is said and done.
"Butterfingers! That's not the Cuneiform bone, that's a metatarsal...it's my turn to operate!"
Paula Sheppard would also turn up in Liquid Sky (1982). This Linda Miller happens to be Jackie Gleason's daughter, not the blonde dip with the annoying voice that Toho Kong had the hots for in the sixties. Besides this movie, Sole also helmed a porno, a softcore outing with Vanity and makeup fx by Rob Bottin, and that fucking Smothers Brothers movie that shall not be named aloud here within the hallowed walls of the Wop. It's a shame, too, because he really displays an excellent grasp of the medium here, his effort worthy of mention in the same breath as some of my favorite countrymen in the genre, and not that far a cry from, dare I say, perhaps Hitchcock himself, if he were having the rarest of off-days? Only having you on, this guy directed Pandemonium (1982), ferchrissakes. Still, tonight's entry is very good, so see it. Three wops.
"I belieeeeve in miracles! Where ya from, you sexy thaaaaaang?"