Exploitation Alley: SWITCHBLADE SISTERS!!
It all started one afternoon, when I decided to spend one dollar on a random VHS tape at a video store sidewalk sale. I was interested in the title. It didn’t have a cover, but it sounded cool so I bought it anyway. To this day I still believe it was the greatest purchase ever. This movie has everything you could want in an exploitation film, everything from a funky theme song (guaranteed to get stuck in your head), a wild female juvenile detention center fight (darn, those juvie gowns just don’t stay on properly), and leading all the way to a sweaty knife fight. Oh yes, It is very groovy. So let’s pull on those skin tight bellbottoms, grab our switchblades, and take it back to 1975…it’s time for SWITCHBLADE SISTERS!!!
Directed by the one and only Jack Hill, this movie is already set for greatness. It was originally released in 1975, and re-released in 1996 by Rolling Thunder Pictures. I highly suggest checking out the commentaries on the re-release by Jack Hill and Quentin Tarantino, good stuff. From the very beginning, you know it is going to be awesome. It has the typical, yet fun theme song with great pictures that set up the general theme of the film: cool, hot, bad ass chicks. After the song, we meet Lace who looks way too young to be scary, oh but she is. During the whole film, she goes from sweet to crazy in a matter of seconds. In the first ten minutes, Lace and the other Dagger Debs are up to no good and they attack and rob man in an elevator. With the stolen cash from their attack, they treat themselves and the male version of their gang the Silver Daggers to some burgers. It is there that they decide to mess with the wrong girl: Maggie. As Maggie is sitting and minding her own business, Patch (yes, she happens to be a hot chick with an eye patch) harasses her, and gets her ass handed to her. Lace is mesmerized by Maggie’s skills, and immediately takes a liking to her. Maggie earns Lace’s trust and they become close when they both get sent to the juvenile detention facility, which leads to one of the coolest fight scenes in the film. By cool I mean boobs, lots of boobs flying around. After a while, you forget why the fight is even going on. Lace clears Maggie’s name, and admits she had nothing to do with the elevator attack. Lace gives Maggie a letter she wrote for her boyfriend Dominic, who is also the leader of the Silver Daggers. Maggie delivers it to him in the Daggers/Debs hideout and the guys (being the jerks they are) made Dom read the love note out loud. The whole time, Dom seems interested in Maggie, which causes some serious problems for the gang.
Another serious problem for the gang involves a rival gang member disguised as a Politician who goes by the name of Crabs. Not only does he have a terrible nickname, he is a very unpleasant fellow. When Patch gives Maggie orders to steal the medallion around Crab’s neck for her initiation into the Debs, it ignites a huge turf war between the gangs. I won’t go into detail because it is pretty bad, but the Daggers and Debs have no choice but to get dirty and publicly set up retaliation against Crabs. Then things go wrong. Terribly wrong. An injury causes Lace to take a break from the gang, and Maggie takes over. The Daggers can’t take all her awesome and craziness, so they bail. The gang becomes the Jezebels. Under Maggie’s rule, the Jezebels team up with another group of vicious females who have only one thing in common: to bring Crabs and his boys down. Oh, how it is great.
Things tend to get super intense as the film goes on. It is not something to miss; it has to be seen because it is quite glorious. By the end, you find yourself cheering for the Jezebels and marveling at how tough they are. The film does not disappoint, and leaves off on a very eerie note. I think everyone should watch it at least once; it is truly a great example of what an exploitation film should be.