How is sending Alice to a Catholic boarding school a faithful adaptation? It is a completely different premise.
It's been sooooo long since I've heard anything on this project...
Dante Tomaselli *just* did an interview with Horrornews.net where he talks a bit about the Alice, Sweet Alice remake:
You have a cousin who made a pretty popular horror film quite a few years back. Was he one of your influences?
Yes ...Alfred Sole's ALICE, SWEET ALICE. It's one of my biggest influences. I was just talking to Alfred on the phone a little while ago. He's definitely been a mentor throughout the years. I'm not sure how much he realizes it. We can both relate to each other very well, especially as cult filmmakers. Plus, he's family...blood. We've been planning a remake of ALICE, SWEET ALICE. I am directing, scoring and cowriting. Alfred is Production Designer. He doesn't want a producer credit, he just feels strongly that he has to be the Production Designer. That's great for me and should comfort ALICE, SWEET ALICE fans, because we can have faith that the sets will come from the imagination of the original director. Also, ultimately he has to give his blessing on the screenplay. That's when financing will come together. Only then. He should approve it and be satisfied with it. Some others have tried to write the screenplay but they have failed. There has not been a satisfactory screenplay yet.
Michael Gingold...managing editor of Fangoria Magazine is my writing partner. We are currently writing a remake that is faithful to the original. I know I want to have the ever present...almost subliminal ...Catholic iconography intact. Alice is still a Bad Seed type girl. And her sister, Karen, is a beautiful, spoiled princess. Jealousy between sisters...intact...The remake should have the same New Jersey Paterson type settings as the original. Of course there should be a centerpiece church ...Rectory...Paterson apartments, creepy
abandoned buildings, the Paterson Falls...It will be a faithful remake, in
my hands. Plotwise, probably the only thing that will be different
is...after the brutal stabbing of Alice's Aunt Annie, Alice is sent to a strict all girls Catholic Boarding School. The film is in development, but it's coming...
"My favorite Harry Potter movie is Troll."
How is sending Alice to a Catholic boarding school a faithful adaptation? It is a completely different premise.
I'm really glad Alfred Sole is involved in some capacity and is giving his input, because I don't think Dante's ready to have complete control over this. I'll leave it at that.
I have mixed feelings on what exactly I want out of Alice, Sweet Alice.
When Dante first started talking about this project around 2003, he was intending for it to be a sequel and for the longest time that's what I wanted. -- A film that would play off the events of the ending to the original and novel, where Alice was seeing the world through new eyes and it was definitely hinted that Alice could become a murderess in her own right (outside of strangling a kitten, that is. hehe); casting the original actress in the title role.
Unless they were going to do a film solely for the hardcore fans, it seemed like they would have a difficult time bringing the proposed sequel to the mainstream (in the big-budgeted theatrical sense), given that so many years have passed since the first one. I mean, they've tried to put the original out there, offering free downloads and whatnot, but it's still relatively unknown compared to some of the other classics and so I sort of felt like something could be lost for the folks who hadn't seen the original... not to mention that the original actress doesn't seem to be interested in reprising her acting career as of right now.
So NOW, I definitely think it's a better idea to start over and retell the story. My only issue is... On one hand, I want a film that brings something new to the table so there are some surprises to be had. On the other, I think the original story was awesome and a mainstream audience needs to see it, so that awareness can be brought to the original, perhaps leading to my dream sequel should the original actress change her mind down-the-road.
Just a heads-up to let you guys know there are currently plans for a 2-Disc Special Edition release of the original Alice, Sweet Alice. I'll give more information when I'm able to.
"My favorite Harry Potter movie is Troll."
I wonder it they'll still kill off the little sister? would they dare in the pc age?
Starchild's #1 fan!!
The original was pretty good.
I had never seen it, but my girlfriend talked about it for years. I finally subscribed to Netflix and rented it.
I was pretty taken in by it.
The way she killed her sister in the church was just shocking.
The fat, obese, nasty neighbor is pretty creepy too.
Im renting thisa from netflix.. should be here tomorrow.
The PR Director who contacted me is interested in doing a career-spanning interview with the title actress for fans of Alice, and horror fans in general, but it's up in the air as to whether that's gonna happen. I think it would be kick-ass if everything could fall into place. Please send positive energy.
Also, I've got a little bit of rare material that I can/am going to offer, but I'm not sure if they'll be able to use it.
As deviant as she was, it wasn't Alice who did that. Not sure if that's what you meant, but thought I'd clarify anyway. It was only until the very end, when she witnessed the stabbing of the Priest, that something seemed to change with her [in that regard] psychologically.
"My favorite Harry Potter movie is Troll."
I personaly didn't enjoy it I bought it at a yardsale and hated it(more cause of the hohum predictable twist ending of the pastor's wife getting away with it didn't see that coming(NNNNOOOOTTTT!!!!)
Starchild's #1 fan!!
Posted on Fun With Horror today.
http://www.funwithhorror.com/2011/12...-director.htmlDante Tomaselli: Interview With The Director of DESECRATION, HORROR, and SATAN'S PLAYGROUND
Dante Tomaselli spoke with Fun With Horror about his new film, TORTURE CHAMBER, the re-imagining of ALICE, SWEET ALICE, his favorite 70s horror films, and more.
What can you tell us about your new film TORTURE CHAMBER?
"It's about a guilty and twisted religious family and its product in the form of a 13-year-old boy. We hear about abuse cases in religious families all the time. There's a grotesque atmosphere when peeking in from the outside. Who would keep a child in a cage? That's what I was trying to illustrate, more than anything...family sickness. The curse of abuse, the hypocrisy, the betrayal... Abuse being protected...masked...in the name of religion. It scares me. It's everywhere. The mother in my film happens to be a Christian Conservative but it can be any religion. I tried to tell a story in a non linear way, because I believe life does not move in a straight line. There are all sorts of ambiguities, flashbacks...and layers of delusion. There is another world poking through...the spirit world. It's about how everything begins...and ends...with family. This film exists at the hazy intersection between life and death."
Is there any chance of THE OCEAN still being made?
"Yes. It's just a matter of financing, it will be made. Creating TORTURE CHAMBER was a lesson for me and I'll never doubt again the power of...I think what happened was...I was putting the wrong signal out to the universe. I was throbbing in pain...and felt drowning in a sense...because the money was there and then it wasn't...I just...I felt stuck...paralyzed...and I was giving that signal out...and the universe said, "Nope. You're not ready."
When will the documentary, THE HORROR OF DANTE TOMASELLI, be available?
"That's up to its creator and director, Chris Garetano. There's a trailer for it on the Anchor Bay disc for SATAN'S PLAYGROUND."
You've said you plan to direct a zombie film, one day. How far is that from being realized?
"Well, that can really be anytime. I've learned to keep it open. What I do is I focus on one feature and give it all my energy. I force...or guide it...into existence. DESECRATION...HORROR...SATAN'S PLAYGROUND....TORTURE CHAMBER. I dream about the project night and day. I'm planning, storyboarding; I'm constantly fantasizing. I imagine it coming alive. It's been my formula. Now, though, as my New Year's resolution, I do want to try to keep the door open for other horror films. Scripts that I receive out-of-the-blue. I try to be more open now. There are so many phenomenal writers of horror out there and it would be fun to quickly take on a project, just go with my gut."
How did you get attached to the remake of your cousin Alfred Sole's film, ALICE, SWEET ALICE? When can we expect to see that in theaters or on the festival circuit?
"Well, a few years ago, Alfred and I were having a conversation about how everything is getting remade....everything...even something like THE OMEN, HALLOWEEN or PSYCHO... Who would ever think? We thought we'd try and beat everyone else to the punch because let's face it, it's inevitable that ALICE, SWEET ALICE will be remade. Alfred's already been sent scripts and I've been protective. One script wanted to set the film in sunny California. No, sorry but ALICE, SWEET ALICE is an East Coast movie and belongs in Paterson New Jersey! Alfred decided to leave it in my hands as a family gift. He said, "I want you to do it." It was the ultimate gift. At the time, I was trying to get THE OCEAN off the ground, so I didn't really move forward on ALICE, SWEET ALICE. And then I made TORTURE CHAMBER...but now I'm ready. I'm writing my draft and then Michael Gingold is going to come in and work on it too. He's co-writer. Meanwhile, Alfred doesn't want to be a producer on it. He will be the film's Production Designer. This won't be a soulless remake. I'd rather call it a re-imagining. On the other hand...I know, I know. I hear it all the time, people are sick of remakes. I agree. But there's something different here. We're blood relatives...and I'm deeply influenced by my cousin's film. It's a staple of my childhood and part of my DNA. I know the original ALICE, SWEET ALICE is untouchable, of course. I have the utmost respect. It's like THE GODFATHER of indie horror films. I could never come close to it but I can try to emulate the film's chilling flavor...with my own stamp."
You've made some great movies without a big budget. How did you manage to keep budgetary constraints from getting in the way of making a great film?
"Thanks. It all comes down to planning and being prepared for the shoot. By the time I get to the set I want everything to run like a machine. Of course there are problems constantly but I think it's about keeping a cool head and moving forward. I might be crying on the inside, but I try not to show it. I work well with artists, I love them. We're all ultra-sensitive. There's no time for awkward debates on my sets. There's a tiny amount of time allotted to do so much. And I try to do a lot. I'm very quiet when I direct, instead of screaming and yelling, I've never done that, I believe in gently guiding...."
You've said that your films are like albums. What are some of the biggest musical influences behind your work?
"Yes, that's very true. Depeche Mode. The Cars. Coil. Jean Michel Jarre. Laurie Anderson. John Carpenter."
You're a big fan of 70s horror. What are your top five 70s horror films?
1.) Don't Look Now
3.) Alice, Sweet Alice
5.) The Exorcist
I read that you've recently become a fan of Italian horror. What are some of your favorite Italian horror films?
"Yes, well I've been steadily learning about Italian horror films since my late twenties. THE HOUSE WITH LAUGHING WINDOWS by Pupi Avati is my favorite. I love all of Dario Argento's early films, every one. SUSPIRIA is still best. Mario Bava, of course is one of the main innovators of Italian horror. In fact, there's a sequence called The Telephone from his movie, BLACK SABBATH...and I believe I was unconsciously channeling it for a scene in TORTURE CHAMBER...it's when Lynn Lowry's character, Lisa, is speaking on the phone. She's nervously moving through her home's landscape. The lushness...the design of the interiors. The densely hallucinated image...that uniquely Italian horror feel...on a low budget. I also love Lucio Fulci films like THE PSYCHIC, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and THE BEYOND."
How did you first come to work with Felissa Rose?
"She sent me her acting headshot in the mail with a note. I was happy to receive it. I was casting for my second feature, HORROR, at the time."
You've had the opportunity to work with some great talent throughout your career. Who would be your dream cast?
"I tend to always appreciate actors from my favorite old time horror films. People I haven't worked with? There were two actors who were slated to star in THE OCEAN a few years ago...Dee Wallace and Adrienne Barbeau. They both stand out in my mind. I also like Veronica Cartwright. She's been in everything from THE BIRDS to INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS to ALIEN. Karen Black, I like, though I heard she doesn't appreciate horror and looks down on it...so that's not good. I'd love to bring someone back in a new horror film...like...Daria Nicolodi. She was so striking in Mario Bava's SHOCK and she's part of horror history. Also Catriona MacColl...I can visualize her in one of my films...she's definitely on my radar. Who else? Marilyn Burns from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE was supposed to have a small role in TORTURE CHAMBER but there were last minute scheduling difficulties. Maybe my next film. Let's see...Sissy Spacek from CARRIE...Jessica Walter from PLAY MISTY FOR ME...Jamie Lee Curtis...Shelly Duvall. Christopher Lee, John Saxon, Donald Sutherland, Art Hindle. There are so many."
I didn't want to make a completely new thread for this, but the trailer for Dante Tomaselli's "Torture Chamber" recently hit the web.
The screenplay for Alice, Sweet Alice is now done.
I wonder who he will get to play Alice?
Shock: What's the status of Alice, Sweet Alice?
Tomaselli: I just finished the Alice, Sweet Alice screenplay with co-writer Michael Gingold.
When all is aligned, I'll announce a production start date.
Last edited by Thatman; June 6, 2012 at 04:01pm. Reason: back-to-back posts
I wonder if Brooke Shields will make a cameo? LOL. I actually hosted the original Alice Sweet Alice on my show a few years ago. A viewer eagerly requested it, saying it scared the heck out of her as a child. She said she hid behind the couch when she first saw it because it scared her so much.
PENNY DREADFUL'S SHILLING SHOCKERS
Weekly hosted horror, sci-fi, suspense, and fantasy films!
On television scare-waves throughout Haunted New England
It's hard to believe this project is FINALLY making some progress. He e-mailed me 9 years ago to tell me that he would be directing this!
As we first reported here, filmmaker Dante Tomaselli (TORTURE CHAMBER, SATAN’S PLAYGROUND) has announced he is proceeding with his long-mooted remake of ALICE, SWEET ALICE, the 1977 shocker (pictured left) directed by his cousin, Alfred Sole, with a script co-written by Fango’s Michael Gingold. Tomaselli gave us more details on the project, as well as the exclusive first look at an early poster.
Though many remember the original ALICE as the film debut of Brooke Shields, who played the first in a series of murder victims in and around a New Jersey Catholic household, the film is also held in high regard by horror fans for its shocking violence and hefty dose of religious imagery. Tomaselli has been wanting to revisit it for quite a while. “As many people who have been following my films already know, I’ve been talking about ALICE, SWEET ALICE for a long time now,” he tells Fango. “Alfred and I discussed it a while back but I just didn’t have it together yet, so I made TORTURE CHAMBER instead. But he knows I idolize his ALICE, SWEET ALICE; it’s a movie I hold close to my heart.”
That love found its way into the poster art seen at right: “In the spirit of bringing back the feel of the ’70s, this ALICE, SWEET ALICE design is all derived from the original film art, which Alfred himself created many years ago. I’ve remixed it. This image of the white-veiled little girl brandishing a knife and the grinning translucent mask used to scare the hell out of me. It’s forever embedded in my psyche.”
Given Tomaselli’s passion for the original, it’s clear this new ALICE is in good hands. “We all want to make this work,” he says. “It will not be a soulless remake. I don’t want to give away details of the script, but it will be a faithful remake that occasionally veers off into unexpected terrain. It will incorporate the same translucent mask and St. Michael’s yellow raincoat. That scary visual is definitely a part of pop-culture history. What I loved about the original is that it kept you guessing; the viewer had no idea what to expect next. That’s what I stand for as a director, and I hope to take it to a new level with a healthy budget. ALICE will be my fifth feature, and in many ways it’s an explosion of my films. It’s about family dysfunction, guilt, sin—and eternal damnation.”
Regarding his collaboration with Gingold, Tomaselli notes, “Michael and I have already worked together on the screenplay for THE OCEAN, a film I still plan to make. He’s an outstanding writer, and a natural communicator. There was never a doubt that I wanted him to be the co-writer of ALICE, SWEET ALICE; he’s a fan of the original, and owns the novelization and even the old laserdisc. I trust Mike, and his instincts.”
Gingold himself promises that horror fans can expect all the twisted and religious mayhem that made the original so great. “Collaborating with Dante on the OCEAN script was one of the best creative experiences I’ve had as a screenwriter, and that’s carrying over into ALICE, SWEET ALICE,” he says. “We’re making sure to stay true to the spirit of the first movie—and not watering down the religious element at all—while adding fresh touches that will make this its own film. Fans of Dante’s previous movies will definitely recognize certain common elements in this vision of ALICE. And to answer the question that some fans of the original will surely ask: Yes, Mr. Alphonso will be back, and as perverted as before.”
Tomaselli has a great affinity for Sole’s film, as well as for the genre in general. “I was a horror fan from age 3, and in 1977, I was 7 and already had a grip on good horror movies. I saw films like DON’T LOOK NOW, THE EXORCIST, CARRIE and THE OMEN. My mother loved the genre and would take me to the drive-in, where I saw everything.” Though too young at the time to attend the premiere, the director remembers its family-style production like it was yesterday. “My father, who owned a jewelry and bridal store, told me he would be supplying the communion dresses, veils and white gloves for this horror film, then called COMMUNION, and showed me the most stylishly frightening [advance] poster of a white-veiled Catholic girl holding a glowing crucifix dagger. I was young but instantly electrified by the image, so beautiful and sinister, and was inspired that someone in my family created this kind of movie. Many of my relatives are extras in it. I knew I wanted to be a horror director, so this was eye-opening to me.”
Though his family was happy to help with the film, some were startled by its brutality. “There was a big premiere in Paterson that I heard about, but was too young to attend. The word was that it was a very scary and well-made movie. My parents were impressed, but my mother said a lot of my relatives, older Italian-Americans, were shocked by the graphic violence. They were not the typical horror crowd, yet they were awed by the film, and it got great reviews, even from Roger Ebert, who called it ‘splendidly chilling.’ ” The young horror hound had to wait for the VHS boom to finally see his cousin’s slasher masterpiece: “I was dying to see it, and finally in 1980, when I was 10 and VCRs were brand new, my family bought a VHS of ALICE, SWEET ALICE. The film became a staple in our household. I also used to see it on TV a lot, and as a young boy I would feel so proud: ‘That’s my cousin, he directed that.’ I’d wear the mask and yellow raincoat myself sometimes.”
And what of Sole, who created ALICE? Tomaselli says not to worry: Sole is heavily involved to assure his cousin does right by his much-loved movie. “Alfred hasn’t directed in a while; he’s now an established production designer in Hollywood, and these days he’s working on the ABC show CASTLE,” Tomaselli notes. “I’m happy to say that he’ll be production designer and a producer on the remake. That should make everyone feel safe that the creator of the original is behind the scenes and creating sets.” Keep your eyes here for further updates…
Big Alice, Sweet Alice update on The Inquisitr. Kathryn Morris has been cast as Catherine Spages. Plus, an extensive interview with Dante Tomaselli.
EDITAlice, Sweet Alice remake plans have moved forward in a big way with Cold Case star Kathryn Morris taking on the lead role of Catherine Spages, mother to a little girl, who may or may not be a psycho killer.
Morris’ production company Revival House and Mosaic Media Group will co-produce this “re-imagining” of the 1976 classic, Tomaselli said.
In the original film, Catherine’s youngest daughter (Brooke Shields) is butchered on the day of her first communion. Older sister Alice (Paula Sheppard) is the prime suspect.
While Alice certainly has “issues,” however, her parents can’t believe she would be capable of murder. Meanwhile, a ghastly knife-wielding figure in yellow raincoat and translucent mask is offing people one-by-one.
Are the crimes related? And if Alice isn’t the killer, then who is?
For those of us familiar with the film, director Dante Tomaselli promises surprises aplenty. In other words, don’t think you’ve got this one figured out just because you’ve seen the original 100 times.
Tomaselli recently agreed to an interview with The Inquisitr in which he discusses plans for his Alice, Sweet Alice remake, and what it’s like to follow in the footsteps of the original director — Castle production designer and cousin — Alfred Sole.
He also discusses the new script, working with a larger budget, where the project’s at in development, and whether we can expect Sheppard or Brooke Shields in cameos.
(Come on, Brooke, wouldn’t you rather do this than The View?)
THE INQUISITR. Anyone who knows me knows Alice, Sweet Alice is one of my favorite horror films. I’m almost obnoxious about it. How do you take this story and make it fresh for people like me who’ve seen the original 100 times?
DANTE TOMASELLI: I understand your obsession. As you probably know, the director of the original, Alfred Sole, is my cousin. Communion, as it was first titled, was shot in Paterson, New Jersey, where I grew up. I remember its World Premiere. I was seven. Many of my relatives were extras, my father, who owned a bridal shop, provided all the white gloves and veils. We were all very proud of Alfred. As a little kid, I used to stalk around my house wearing a yellow raincoat and replica of the famous translucent mask. Back then, I thought that I was the only person who knew of Communion or … Alice, Sweet Alice. I had no idea there were so many fans of the film. It’s a staple of my childhood.
How to penetrate those who already saw the original a zillion times? That was really the biggest challenge while conceptualizing the screenplay. We see so many remakes and know exactly what’s coming because the original is so engrained in our DNA. I don’t want to stray too far from the original’s main ingredients, that’s what fills me with passion. This is a faithful remake, but there are definitely new twists in the script. The original is a disorienting mystery and I aim to retain its mysteriousness, even for those who know the original by heart. There’s an elusive, ethereal quality to the original. You never know what’s around the corner. I’ve created four low budget independent feature films that are mostly about family dysfunction, religious fanaticism and disorientation. I believe all my films so far have been leading up to the re-imagining of Alice, Sweet Alice. A line straight to this.
THE INQUISITR: The idea for a remake has been brewing for several years, and from everything we can tell, you’ve been the driving force. In what ways has the project evolved since you first started discussing it, and why is now the right time? Also, why a remake and not a sequel?
TOMASELLI: Well, I wouldn’t want to continue the story of Alice, Sweet Alice. It ended on just the right ambiguous note. Mainly, there are all these remakes of horror classics these days. And Alfred was getting offers. He sent me some of the scripts and they were awful. He said, “Dante, you direct it, you create this.” I was so happy and relieved to hear it from his lips because I’m fiercely protective of the film. I started to write a script, but never finished. Years passed and I directed my recent film, Torture Chamber.
Once that was completed I started dreaming of Alice again. Alfred contacted me and said there was a possible investor. This turned out to be a false alarm but I’m glad it happened because it got me to finally work on the script. It put a fire under me. I knew I needed a co-writer so I immediately thought of Michael Gingold, managing editor of Fangoria Magazine.
We wrote a screenplay in the past together and it was a terrific experience. So he came on as co-writer and that’s when the script was created. Mike brought so much to the table, a natural communicator, a wordsmith — an expert on horror cinema. Needless to say, he was a huge help. I’m more of a visual storyteller and score composer than anything else. I gave him top billing as one of the writers. Once the script was finally finished, there was little doubt that we made the right decision to write the screenplay.
I knew that the financing was not going to come from my world — the low budget indie horror realm. It would likely come from Alfred’s west coast camp. Soon Alfred called me again with positive news. He put me in contact with his friend, actress Kathryn Morris. I was told by Alfred that she’s executive producing and that she read the screenplay and enjoyed it very much. Kathryn and I started communicating through email and then on the phone about getting it off the ground. She told me about the company that manages her, Mosaic Media Group. They produce lots of high quality movies (Bad Teacher, Step Brothers, The Bank Job, according to IMDb).
Dave Fleming of Mosaic spoke to us on the phone and we all had a magic meeting. He came on board and it was pretty instantaneous. So now Kathryn Morris’ production company, Revival House, is producing Alice, Sweet Alice with Mosaic Media Group.
THE INQUISITR: Where is the remake at right now in the production process — casting, filming, editing, finished script, etc. — and do you have a date for the final cut? Also, is there a firm or general release date on the horizon, and if so when?
TOMASELLI: Alice, Sweet Alice is in development … The screenplay, co-written by Michael Gingold and myself is completed. I’m attached to direct and score. The screenplay is a scary, suspenseful mystery horror tale that honors the integrity of the original.
THE INQUISITR: Who has signed on to star in the remake, and what character information can you provide at this time?
TOMASELLI: Kathryn Morris will star as Catherine Spages, Alice’s mother. Kathryn was the lead in the CBS series Cold Case and had a role as Tom Cruise’s wife in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. She’s like a chameleon — totally versatile. Slips right into a role. Her character in Alice is modeled after the original Catherine Spages, played by Linda Miller. In keeping with the spirit of the original, Kathryn’s character will look and feel similar, strikingly beautiful, perfectly sculpted dark hair, fiercely protective of her children and plagued by deep Catholic guilt.
The next important casting step is to confirm her husband’s character, Dominic Spages. We have some actors on our radar. Once we have her husband in place, then, the rest of the family — namely Alice — crystallizes. Finding the right Alice will be a mission.
THE INQUISITR: Can we expect any cameos from actors who were in the original film, and what talent from the 1976 version, behind or in front of the camera, is returning to help out on the production? I don’t think I speak for myself when I say it would be awesome to see Paula Sheppard or Brooke Shields back even in a small capacity. Has there been any communications with them on the project?
TOMASELLI: Alfred has a direct line to Brooke Shields. I hope there’s the possibility of a cameo. The original was her very first feature film. Paula Sheppard, the original Alice in a cameo? That’s something I’d love to make happen to please fans of the original, if it’s possible. How old is she now? She’s a bit of an enigma. I was also thinking of Mildred Clinton but sadly she passed away a few years ago.
Female villains are always among the scariest. Piper Laurie in Carrie, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Jessica Walter in Play Misty for Me, the old slaughtering women in House of Laughing Windows.
I would place Mildred Clinton’s performance in Alice, Sweet Alice alongside those. An out-of-this-world portrayal of psychosis. Paula Sheppard, too, of course. Her performance as the complex, misunderstood Alice in the original is classic.
THE INQUISITR: Spotty distribution of the original has often been cited as a reason the film didn’t find its audience sooner. It seems like the popularity of Alice, Sweet Alice has grown stronger in the years since its release than it was at the time. Do you have a distributor / distribution plan for the remake? Do you see it as a limited or national theater release, or would you rather take it directly to fans through Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD/digital download?
TOMASELLI: Alice, Sweet Alice was sixth in the Variety 50 Top-Grossing Films for the week ending May 17, 1978. Kathryn Morris’ production company, Revival House and Mosaic Media Group, are definitely planning for theatrical distribution. This will have a higher budget than any of my pictures. We’re all on the same page about how we envision the end result.
For me, I’ll have a larger canvas, a much better budget, script and level of actors. Some directors go from a short film that makes a splash to a feature length decent budgeted movie. I’ve directed four features and I’ve had some great distributors like Anchor Bay and Image Entertainment.
The Alice, Sweet Alice remake, the re-imagining of my cousin’s independent horror film. What could ever inspire me more? It feels like a natural progression. This won’t be a soulless remake. I aim to really deliver and frighten and entertain fans of the original because I am one of those fans.
I also plan to create a film that stands on its own. Already, at its foundation level, the project is marinated in love. As Kathryn, Alfred and Dave Fleming know, I’ve been grooming myself for this movie. All of my four independent feature films are in some way influenced or inspired by Alice, Sweet Alice. And through trial and error — growing, experimentation — I’ve developed a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.
THE INQUISITR: I wouldn’t call the 1976 film tame. It certainly kept me up at nights when I was younger and the bloodletting was significant for the time period. But as time moves on, it takes a different approach to shock audiences as their tastes evolve. Has that been a concern for you through the development of this project, and what elements do you feel the new film should have that maybe weren’t present in the original?
TOMASELLI: The original is close to perfect, for me. It puts you in a time capsule. I can say the pacing on the remake will be faster. Also, I’ll be toning down Catherine Spages’ hysterics. The screaming was always a bit over the top. As far as music — how could I resist that spine-tingling whispery lullaby theme by Stephen Lawrence?
I will be incorporating and re-mastering different key compositions and soundscapes from the original feature. I love the music from the original and can get lost in it. I’m working on connective tissue music right now. I like to do that before filming. Then I have soundscapes in my head while I’m shooting. I may not always use them but they help me, like, storyboards. I want the viewer to taste color and touch sound. Music and sound design is all-important in a horror film and this remake will have a very similar mood and tone as the original.
THE INQUISITR: On setting and characters: what changes can you reveal between the coming remake and the 1976 version? Definitely understand keeping some things under wraps, but will this be set in modern day? Any new characters? That sort of thing.
TOMASELLI: All of the same characters for the most part. Similar situations, though sometimes different outcomes. Wouldn’t it be boring to know what’s coming next? Definitely some new surprises, but I can’t reveal. You won’t know where it’s going. As far as locations, it’s working-class Italian Catholic Paterson, New Jersey. The main difference is whereas the original was set in the 60s, the new one will be in the 70s.
THE INQUISITR: I believe the human element of the original makes this an extraordinary work. Rather than the horror movie stuff, which is definitely effective, the film really becomes a classic based on its human insight and characterization. A single mom as the main character. Societal taboos of the time period — the divorced parents. Religious fanaticism. The idea a child could be capable of murder. Are there any modern day hot-button issues that could turn up in this remake?
TOMASELLI: It’s true. It’s the human element in Alice, Sweet Alice that really draws you in. And all its layers. It’s an emotionally-charged horror film that deals with family love, sickness, jealousy, guilt and murder. I believe everything here is totally relatable for modern audiences.
Even though this is a 70s period piece, there are still religious families with their religious rituals. And religious fanaticism. Evil cloaked in religion. It’s happening everywhere in the world. Here is a microcosm.
A divorced, devout Catholic lady like Catherine could still easily be living in Paterson, New Jersey, with her two young daughters. Certain Italian-American neighborhoods stand completely still in time. This woman’s beloved daughter could have been tragically murdered on her first Holy Communion by a masked killer. It could happen. I could see it in the newspaper. How does a family cope?
THE INQUISITR: One thing immediately noticeable about Alice, Sweet Alice: it’s a beautifully designed, artistic, and colorful horror film despite the subject matter. How will this film look different and / or the same than the original? And other than the influence of the original film, are there any other horror films — your own or others — that are serving as a guide for creating the world of the Alice, Sweet Alice remake?
TOMASELLI: Alfred will be creating the sets so you know the director of the original has a hand in every visual. Purists of the original can feel safe. And there’s my dream language horror cinema that I’ve been developing over the span of four features. My films speak in dream language. Together, our styles will blend. I worship my cousin Alfred’s art, he knows that. His films and his production design — I want to make him happy and feel at peace.
The remake will be painterly. Misty, rainy. European-looking, very Italian giallo-like with its gothic Paterson, New Jersey, settings and masked-murderer-on-the-loose ambience. I aim to imbue it all with a spine-tingling atmosphere of dread — stained-glass windows, priests, nuns, abandoned buildings, black wrought iron gates, jars of cockroaches, children’s dolls. Beauty and horror. Different sides of the same coin. Of course I’m keeping the landmark translucent china doll-like mask. It’s unforgettable and ghastly. Growing up, the creepy clownish mask gave me many nightmares. And the yellow raincoat, and knife. Brrrr. Heart-stopping horror. The original Alice, Sweet Alice is made up entirely of day scenes. I love the irony because the tagline says, “If You Survive This Night Nothing Will Scare You Again.”
Fangoria reviews Dante Tomaselli's upcoming film Torture Chamber.
Horror is a base genre in many respects, as it taps into our anxieties about what’s beyond the door for us all, about death and what–if anything–lies beyond. Shame then, that most genre movies get bogged down in pedestrian plotting, exasperating exposition and trivial twists. The greatest horror films are not steered by their scripts; rather, they are works of sensual alchemy. Martin Scorsese once said of Bava’s work–and I’m paraphrasing–that “Bava made films that bypass your brain and go right to your gut.” Indeed his films, and many of the great works of European horror, trade in visceral imagery and sound design to bring their nightmares to grand fruition. And if you’ve ever had a really juicy, heart squeezing, body sweating, wake-up-screaming-and-pull-the-covers-up-close nightmare, you’ll know that plot, character and dialogue aren’t what gets blasted forever onto your psyche. What strikes you and what sticks with you can’t even find articulation for, it just is.
Dante Tomaselli’s latest film TORTURE CHAMBER is a nightmare.
Tomaselli’s modus operandi is right there in his title, as it was with his even more freeform work of imagination, 2002′s HORROR. He’s not here to divert you with 90 minutes of contrived TV level storytelling with dullard “screenwriting 101” mechanisms, rather he wants to damage your central nervous system, to stimulate that primordial ooze that lies bubbling within all of us regardless of race, class, creed or culture. When he succeeds in doing so, he simply has no contemporary peer. Even SUSPIRIA went out for a smoke with muddled dialogue and laughable plot explanations on occasion. This film never really does. It just sticks to what it wants to do, dedicated and unrelenting with just enough set up to hook you.
TORTURE CHAMBER is ostensibly a kind of American Gothic gone to hell, playing with religious iconography but never actively exploiting them in the kind of ham-fisted fashion that many inferior horror films do. In it, a rather unpleasant little boy sits imprisoned in a shadowy institution because his family believes him to be the victim of demonic possession. They’re right, of course, but the allegory is clear: this is a deeply troubled clan and devil or not, no child would likely emerge unscathed.
When the boy escapes his confinement with the aid of his gaggle of reverent followers, he grabs his kindly art teacher/therapist (the always intense Lynn Lowry who, as usual, delivers a layered, emotional performance) and hightails it to a looming castle complete with a torture chamber. The rest of the film sees images smash upon images as his teacher, family and anyone who attempts to track him get theirs on his body twisting devices.
Imagine Ken Russell directing a SAW film but secretly remaking SALO on the sly, and you get an idea of the eye-opening impact TORTURE CHAMBER has in store. Nobody smiles in Tomaselli’s world, no sunshine is allowed and Catholic guilt is a major allegorical force (no surprise that the director is remaking his uncle Alfred Sole’s hyper-Catholic giallo ALICE, SWEET ALICE next). It’s not an oppressive experience, however. From a purely cinematic standpoint it’s consistently energizing. In many ways, this film, in its own humble, economically budgeted way, is the film that Rob Zombie’s THE LORDS OF SALEM thinks it is: a complete and utter surrender to texture and a deep drop into an audio-visual rabbit hole. The performances run hot and cold, sometimes barely registering (again, save for Lowry who really is one of the genre’s most undervalued actors and an authentically gritty turn from THE SOPRANOS’ Vincent Pastore), but Tomaselli doesn’t dwell on these limitations, rebounding instead with another shuddery visage of wrenched flesh, psychosexual obsession, weird masks or wild-eyed stares coupled with Tomaselli’s own punishing music and wall to wall sound design.
Like any self-respecting nightmare, TORTURE CHAMBER traps its audience in an environment and won’t let them go until it’s finished with them. Many won’t connect with the film, searching for a clear point A-B-C thrust that is simply not there. But those who like to get lost in cinema and allow themselves to take a trip will find this film unforgettable. As of this writing I have no idea when or where you’ll be able to enter Dante’s meticulously designed inferno (I was given an advance screener) but when you get the chance, buckle in, turn down the lights and do it. And be warned…
"My favorite Harry Potter movie is Troll."