Alice, Sweet Alice appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a more than acceptable presentation.
Sharpness was mostly solid. Interiors could be a little on the soft side, but most of the movie seemed reasonably crisp and concise. No issues with jagged edges, shimmering, or edge enhancement materialized. Print flaws also failed to appear.
Colors looked positive. The film went with a fairly natural palette that didn’t dazzle but it seemed acceptably impactful.
Blacks were nicely deep and full, while shadows looked clear and smooth. The final product presented the film well.
Don’t expect anything memorable from the DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Alice, as this was a consistently average mix for its age. Speech sounded a little thin but the lines were always concise and easily intelligible.
Music lacked much range but seemed clear and didn’t suffer from any shrillness. The same went for effects. Though I failed to notice much dynamic range from those elements, the effects seemed acceptably distinctive, and they lacked distortion. This was a decent track for an older flick.
The disc includes a slew of extras, and we find two separate audio commentaries. The first features director Alfred Sole, editor Edward Salier and makeup effects artist Bill Lustig, all of whom sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, challenges related to low budget/inexperience, music, photography and other domains.
Recorded for a 1990s laserdisc, the commentary suffers from way more happy talk than I’d like, and the self-praise can become a drag. However, we get a lot of good information along the way, so I can forgive the indulgence, as we learn enough to compensate for the fluffy parts.
For the second commentary, we hear from film historian Richard Harland Smith. He provides a running, screen-specific look at the project’s roots and influences, cast and performances, story/character areas, sets and locations, and related topics.
For the most part, Smith delivers a good commentary, as he touches on the expected subjects in a concise manner. He does lose steam as the track progresses, so the movie’s second half becomes less informative, but I still think Smith provides enough useful material to make this a worthwhile chat.
Some featurettes follow, and First Communion offers an 18-minute, 42-second chat with Sole. He discusses his career as well as specifics about Alice. Some of this becomes redundant after the commentaries, but we still get a good overview.
During Alice on My Mind, we get a 14-minute, 59-second interview with composer Stephen Lawrence. He covers his music career and his work on Alice as he provides a nice take on his compositions.
In the Name of the Father goes for 16 minutes, two seconds and presents notes from actor Niles McMaster. He tells us about his time in movies and his experiences during Alice. Recorded via Skype, the quality of the interview stinks and he wanders onto tangents a little too much, but McMaster still gives us some decent memories.
With Lost Childhood, author Michael Gingold takes us on a 16-minute, two-second tour of the movie’s locations. Those elements seem a bit dull, but we learn of some deleted scenes, and those segments offer value.
Filmmaker Dante Tomaselli – also Sole’s cousin – appears via the 11-minute, 18-second Sweet Memories. He looks at their relationship and impact on his career in this decent collection of thoughts.
Two Deleted Scenes span a total of two minutes, 45 seconds. The first lacks audio and replicates the same clips already featured in Gingold’s location tour.
The second brings us a little exposition via a phone chat. Neither seems memorable.
We also see Alternate Opening Titles. These go for one minute, 13 seconds and simply substitute the title Alice, Sweet Alice for Communion. Given that this Blu-ray sells the movie as Alice, it seems odd that Communion gets billing on the film’s presentation, but I suspect Arrow did so out of deference to Sole’s preferences.
An Image Gallery presents 40 elements that mix production photos and publicity components. It becomes a good collection.
In addition to a UK TV spot, we find the movie’s trailer. Oddly, the Blu-ray calls this the film’s “original trailer”, though it actually advertises a 1981 re-release called Holy Terror.
This promo touts the involvement of Brooke Shields and strongly implies she plays the lead. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t!
For a longer look at that 1981 re-issue, we go to Holy Terror. Whereas the theatrical version fills 1:47:05, Terror runs 1:47:13.
This uses the aforementioned alternate titles and makes some minor edits but doesn’t differ much from the theatrical cut. Still, it’s nice to have for archival purposes.
Due to the screen premiere of Brooke Shields, Alice, Sweet Alice boasts a novelty factor. As an actual movie, though, it seems spotty and less than compelling. The Blu-ray comes with generally good picture and audio as well as an extensive collection of supplements. Genre fans might dig Alice but it doesn’t click consistently enough for me.