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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Holy Terror" or "Communion")

 

directed by Alfred Sole
USA 1976

 

When young Karen Spages (Brooke Shields, ENDLESS LOVE) is murdered on the day of her first communion, suspicion naturally points towards her troubled older sister Alice (Paula Sheppard, LIQUID SKY) who stalks her apartment building in weird masks and plays cruel pranks on her family and neighbors. The only people who do not seem to suspect Alice are her beleaguered mother Catherine (Linda Miller, AN UNMARRIED WOMAN) and her estranged father Dom (Niles McMaster, BLOODSUCKING FREAKS) who returns for the funeral. While the police focus on Alice - especially after her domineering aunt Annie (Jane Lowry) claims Alice stabbed her - Dom carries out his own investigation with the help of his former brother-in-law Father Tom (Rudolph Willrich, NINE 1/2 WEEKS) with Annie's own troubled daughter Angela (Kathy Rich) as his prime suspect. When another murder occurs while Alice is under psychiatric observation, she is released but returns to her old tricks even as the killer continues to stalk her family. Is she the final victim or a kindred spirit?

An ambitious New Jersey-lensed period sleeper that has justifiably become a cult classic (in part due to the presence of a then-unknown Shields and the film's unfortunately public domain status throughout the years after Allied Artist changed the title from COMMUNION without copyrighting it), ALICE, SWEET ALICE has been considered an American giallo due not so much to its knife-wielding stalker as its exploration of the twisted psyches of seemingly obvious red herring characters - including Alphonso DeNoble (NIGHT OF THE ZOMBIES) Fellini-grotesque apartment building landlord, as well as Peter Bosche as a senile monsignor driving Mildred Clinton's (SERPICO) parish housekeeper understandably batty - and the religious and familial pressures that shape monsters. The first of three mainstream films of writer/director Alfred Sole (TANYA'S ISLAND), who graduated from the University of Florence with a degree in architecture and would later became a production designer.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 13 November 1976 (USA)

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Comparison:

88 Films - Region 0 - PAL vs. 88 Films - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

Box Cover

 

Distribution

88 Films

Region 0 - PAL

88 Films
Region
'B' Blu-ray
Runtime 1:42:06 (4% PAL speedup) 1:42:06
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.69 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Disc Size: 21,291,505,518 bytes

Feature Size: 17,500,557,312 bytes

Average Bitrate: 21.17 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Bitrate Blu-ray

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono D
Subtitles none none
Features Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
•  Audio Commentary by director Alfred Sole, editor Edward Salier, and assitant make-up effects artist Bill Lustig
• Alternative 'Communion' Title Sequence (16:9; 1:00)
• 'Holy Terror' 1981 Reissue Trailer (16:9; 1:40)
• Stills Gallery
• 88 Films Trailer Park

DVD Release Date: February 17th, 2014
Amaray

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: 88 Films

 

Disc Size: 21,291,505,518 bytes

Feature Size: 17,500,557,312 bytes

Average Bitrate: 21.17 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• The studio that conquered a continent - An overview of Shaw Bros. with Bey Logan (23:12)
• Bey Logan on Hong Kong Movie language (6:36)
• Trailer (1:11).

Second disc DVD


Blu-ray  Release Date: June 11th, 2018
Transparent Blu-ray case

Chapters: 8

 

 

Comments

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

88 Films' transfer is on a single-layered, Blu-ray and the beginning has colors that look muted (not dissimilar to Black Magic). But eventually things perk-up a bit although the film seems like the dark appearance is an intentional look. The 1080P presentation is fine in-motion looking thick, heavy and film-like. I wouldn't say stellar but adequate and probably the best HEX may get. While I prefer a brighter visuals, the gray-cast seems to suit the film's supernatural elements.

 

The audio transfer in a linear PCM 2.0 channel (24-bit) is in 'Chinese' but I can't determine if it is original Mandarin but I suspect it's the Cantonese DUB. The film doesn't have the usual whiplash sound effects but sports a creepy score credited to Eddie Wang (The Bride From Hell, Killer Constable, Return of the 36th Chamber). There are optional English subtitles (see below) and the disc is a Region 'B'-locked Blu-ray.

 

Extras include two featurettes with Bey Logan. 'The Studio That Conquered a Continent' is a 23-minute overview of Shaw Bros. then he does a 6.5-minute piece on Hong Kong Movie language. There is also a trailer and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring an alternate poster plus some liner notes by Dr. Calum Waddell (limited to 2000 copies). There is also a second disc DVD included.
 

The unusual thing about Hex is the lengthy naked dance sequences at the conclusion - it is all at once misplaced, erotic, bizarre and artistically beautiful. This was another very cool Shaw Brothers genre film experience with all the simplicity and transparent effects that give it a unique charisma. 88 Films Blu-ray package has plenty of value for fans of these sexy-ghost-stories. Recommended! 

 - Gary Tooze

On THE DVD: 88 Films' DVD features the first anamorphic issue of the film (even the recent American release from Hen's Tooth Video uses the laserdisc master). The 16:9 image sports some unattractive edge enhancement throughout and only fair detail (Warner Bros. apparently has the negative and have not been helpful to companies inquiring about the title, while the source for the previous versions was the director's own print). Although the title sequence features a 1998 copyright notice, this is the original uncut version and not the shorter director's cut which appeared on the 1997 Roan Group laserdisc (which ran 101 minutes and 20 seconds in NTSC). Despite it's shortcomings, the 88 Films release would appear to be the preferable option for British viewers for which the film is uncut for the first time in the UK (not only in terms of not being the director's cut but also suffered minute trims in its past two video releases).

The audio commentary with director Alfred Sole, editor Edward Salier, and make-up effects assistant Bill Lustig (now president of Blu-ray/DVD label Blue Underground) dates back from the laserdisc release, so it does include mention of the director's cut re-editing even though the footage is present. The film's original COMMUNION title sequence is provided as an extra as well as the 1981 HOLY TERROR reissue trailer (which capitalizes on the presence of Brooke Shields to the extent of suggesting that it is she who plays main character Alice). The disc also includes trailers for other 88 Films releases including other non-Full Moon releases like TWO MOON JUNCTION and the films of Ted V. Mikels.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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Box Cover

 

Distribution

88 Films

Region 0 - PAL

88 Films
Region
'B' Blu-ray

 


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