- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Horror meets art house by way of New Jersey neo-realism in Alfred Sole’s enduring 1976 cult classic Alice, Sweet Alice ($24.95), new this week in a fresh edition from Hen’s Tooth Video (henstoothvideo.com). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

When a pretty young Paterson, N.J., Catholic girl (Brooke Shields in her unlikely big-screen debut) is slain just before receiving her first Holy Communion, suspicion initially points to her jealous older sister Alice (Paula Sheppard). Even as Alice’s divorced parents temporarily reunite to deal with their grief, more murders follow, all committed by a mysterious masked figure. Is it Alice, or is another perpetrator to blame?

Miss Sheppard is alternately pitiful and chilling as the disturbed Alice, while Linda Miller, daughter of Jackie Gleason, gives a wrenching performance as her tormented mother; both receive able support from a secondary cast composed of regional actors along with such veteran thesps as Lillian Roth and Tom Signorelli.

Director/co-writer Sole, accompanied by film editor Edward Salier and production assistant/future director William Lustig, supplies the low-budget indie’s fascinating backstory in a bonus audio commentary.

With its vivid, nearly verite portrait of small-city Italian-American working-class life, “Alice, Sweet Alice” (originally titled “Communion”) boasts appeal far beyond the chiller genre. The film’s digital arrival should not only appease impatient fans but win new converts as well.

Tele-video

Walt Disney Home Entertainment leads the week’s busy TV-on-DVD comedy slate with the Jim Henson-created series Dinosaurs: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons (four-disc, $39.99), offering audio commentaries and featurettes, while Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents Kevin James as The King of Queens (three-disc, $39.95) and Warner Home Video bows the Manhattan-set series What I Like About You: The Complete First Season (three-disc, $39.98).

In new documentary developments, the History Channel debuts the air combat series Dogfights: The Complete Season One (four-disc, $49.95), WGBH Boston Video releases the “American Experience” documentary Geronimo and the Apache Resistance ($19.95) and BBC Video packages the epic Planet Earth: The Complete Series (five-disc, $79.98), augmented by the companion series Planet Earth: The Future and multiple featurettes.

Elsewhere, Paramount Home Entertainment continues two glitzy youth-oriented series, the 28-episode Beverly Hills 90210: The Second Season and the 31-episode Melrose Place: Second Season (eight-disc, $61.99 each), both bolstered by bonus featurettes.

From across the pond, Acorn Media introduces the fact-based British tele-drama Wallis & Edward ($24.99).

Collectors’ corner

20th Century Fox puts the accent on vintage action with its Tyrone Power Collection (five-disc, $59.98). The swashbuckling star holds forth in the bullfight drama Blood and Sand (1941), co-starring Rita Hayworth, Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Beake (1942), Captain from Castile (1947), Prince of Foxes (1949) and The Black Rose (1950).

The same label unearths five new entries in its ongoing Fox War Classics line ($14.98 each), highlighted by Sam Fuller’s hard-hitting 1951 Korean War winner Fixed Bayonets! The WWII adventures Tonight We Raid Calais (1942), The Purple Heart (1944), Sailor of the King (1953) and Man in the Middle (1964) complete the lineup.

BBC Video emphasizes classic drama with The George Eliot Collection (five-disc, $49.98), assembling BBC adaptations of that 19th-century author’s Adam Bede, Daniel Deronda, Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe, along with bonus material.

Also out in new editions are An Officer and a Gentleman (1982), the Diana Ross vehicle Mahogany (1975), Pauline Collins as Shirley Valentine (1989) (all Paramount, $14.99 each) and Fletch: The ‘Jane Doe’ Edition (1985) (Universal Studios, $19.98).

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical releases making their digital debuts, Paramount rolls out the red carpet for Dreamgirls (two-disc, $34.99), starring Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, complete with a full-length documentary, featurettes, extended musical numbers and more.

New Line Home Entertainment introduces Todd Field’s Tom Perotta adaptation Little Children ($27.95), with Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly and Patrick Wilson, while Kino Video counters with Kelly Reichardt’s indie drama Old Joy ($29.95).

Universal Studios contributes a pair of titles — Justin Timberlake, Sharon Stone and Bruce Willis in the drama Alpha Dog and Sean Bean in the serial-killer remake The Hitcher ($29.98 each).

In a lighter vein, Cedric the Entertainer plays the titular secret agent in the spy spoof Code Name: The Cleaner (Warner, $28.99), while Lionsgate Home Entertainment releases the animated fable Happily Never After ($29.98).

Video verite

A&E Home Video gets into the spring baseball swing with the gala seven-disc The New York Yankees World Series Collector’s Edition ($69.95), packed with digital diamond extras galore.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Searching for a ‘50s B movie called The Screaming Skull.

Martin Barrett, via e-mail

That 1958 chiller is currently available ($5.98) via Alpha Video (www.oldies.com).

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at phanmedia@aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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