Alice, Sweet Alice is a film that I’ve waited on watching for many years. I don’t want to date myself, but I had it on VHS, and yet I still didn’t watch the film. There was no reason behind me not popping it in besides laziness. However, I had to ruin my streak when Arrow Video released the film on a stellar Blu-ray package. I’m currently split down the middle right now, with one part wishing I had never seen it and the other part glad to have watched it. Why do you ask? Read on to see.
Alice, Sweet Alice was released in 1976 and directed by Alfred Sole, whose previous directorial credit was a porno named Deep Sleep. Why do I mention that? No reason, but come on, it’s pretty cool to have a XXX movie under your belt (or in your pants). Anyway, the premise behind Alice, Sweet Alice is like most slashers. It features a masked killer stalking people for reasons unknown. This time around, we are led to believe the killer could potentially be the little girl Alice (Paula Sheppard), who teeters on the edge of sanity for the most part. She is the oldest daughter in the family, her father has split with her mother, and her sister is the most annoying child (played expertly by Brooke Shields). However, Alice swears she has harmed no one and her parents do believe her, but should we? Unfortunately, when the time comes to reveal the killer, it lands with a lacklustre plop. The reveal of the killer also opens up potential plot holes that are never filled and never explained.
Let’s not let that spoil our opinion on Alice, Sweet Alice, though, as the film has a whole lot of other great stuff happening that makes up for many negatives. Some of the attacks are brutal, with lots of cringe-worthy moments that will make any gorehound squeal. The cinematography is phenomenal-looking, with a standout scene involving a slowly expanding pool of blood in the rain. Composer Stephen J. Lawrence deserves applause as well for the memorable and haunting soundtrack. I also need to give props to Paula Sheppard, who delivers a wonderfully unhinged performance as Alice.
I mentioned above that I was torn between being glad I’ve seen it and being upset that I finally did watch it. The reason for this is sometimes a film ends up being better in your head, and Alice, Sweet Alice was one of those movies, thanks to a memorable poster. Still, the other half is happy to finally have seen it as I did end up enjoying it, especially on Arrow Video’s excellent Blu-ray.
Comprehensive screenshots from this Blu-ray release
Alice, Sweet Alice saw a previous Blu-ray release from 88 Films, and even with a solid effort from that company, Arrow Video saw it fit to go back to the original camera negative and do a new scan in 2K, resulting in a video transfer that rises above any previous releases. The film’s grain is solid for a good 90% of the movie, with only a few scenes cropping up where it becomes a bit heavy and the contrast seems to have been bumped up. Most likely this is a result of the negative and not something Arrow Video had a hand in causing. Audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Mono with an average bitrate of 1033 kbps. English subtitles are optional. I heard no glaring issues with the audio track.
Alice, Sweet Alice has been exclusively restored by Arrow Films and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with mono sound.
The original camera negative was scanned in 4K resolution at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging. Additional film elements were scanned in 4K for the alternate title sections.
Picture grading and restoration were completed at Silver Salt Restoration, London.
The mono soundtrack was remastered from the original optical negative at Deluxe Audio Services.
The alternate Holy Terror TV cut was constructed using the same restored materials and was archived by using tape reference materials.
When it comes to Extra Features, Arrow Video goes all out. First up we have the packaging, with a nice cardboard sleeve cover featuring the newly created artwork. Inside the case, we have a 22-page booklet featuring an essay by Michael Blyth, and a poster with the new artwork. Flipping the sleeve around reveals the original poster. Popping the disc in we are treated to an abundant array of new features. We have a new audio commentary with film and book critic Richard Harland Smith, four new interviews with the director Alfred Sole, actor Niles McMaster, composer Stephen Lawrence, and cousin to Alfred Sole, Dante Tomaselli. Next is a 16-minute tour of the shooting locations with author Michael Gingold, newly found deleted scenes (the scenes are mute and a bit on the dull side), and finally an alternate cut titled Holy Terror. This cut of the film offers a new credit title card and a few reworkings of the scenes. No new scenes are provided in this cut. Rounding everything out is a previously released commentary with director Alfred Sole and editor Edward Salier, trailers, image gallery and the original screenplay accessible with a BD-ROM. Whew!
NEW Reversible cover artwork
NEW Limited edition booklet
NEW Audio commentary with Richard Harland Smith
NEW Interview with Alfred Sole (HD; 18:42)
NEW Interview with Stephen Lawrence (HD; 14:59)
NEW Interview with Niles McMaster (HD; 16:02)
NEW Locations of Alice, Sweet Alice (HD; 16:02)
NEW Interview with Dante Tomaselli (HD; 11:18)
NEW Deleted scenes (mute; HD; 2:45)
NEW Alternate cut – Holy Terror (HD; 1:47:13)
Alternate opening titles (HD; 1:13)
Audio commentary with Alfred Sole and Edward Salier
Original trailer (HD; 1:44)
UK TV spot (SD; 0:16)
Image gallery (chapter breaks; 6:40)
Original screenplay (BD-ROM; PDF)
Alice, Sweet Alice will forever play in my head as one film that I made up and the other, real film that fails to deliver an interesting killer reveal. Nevertheless, the film has plenty of cool scenes to keep you invested and of course, the Blu-ray from Arrow Video is jammed full of goodies.