Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Twisted Sisters: "Sisters of Death" (1976)



This 1970's relic is a clever little thriller with plenty of twists and turns and the over-the-top finale is fun. Too bad the film makers don't make the best of the nubile female cast and fantastic setting, instead dwelling in technical mistakes and iffy pacing.

The film opens with a ceremony inducting two new members into a group called the Sisters. One of the initiation rites involves putting a gun to the newbie's heads, and it goes off, killing Liz (Elizabeth Bergen). The other half dozen Sisters are rightfully horrified. Cut to seven years later, and all of the Sisters receive invitations to a reunion. They gather, and are driven out to the location by two hired men (Paul Carr and Joe E. Tata), who have never met their boss. The Sisters are obviously intimidated by the mystery, and the guys hang around hoping to score with the women. Soon, the partygoers find themselves trapped in the remote mansion by an active electrical fence, and the murderous Sisters are slowly being picked off one by one.

I collectively refer to the women as the Sisters, because aside from Claudia Jennings as model Judy, none of the other characters stuck out in my mind. The two brunettes looked so much alike, and Jennings resembles another brown haired Sister, I thought everyone might be related in real life. Just when you think you know who is creeping off with who, who might be in on the murderous plot, and who just got killed, their doppelganger pops up and you think "oh, wait, I thought that was who died." Old pro Arthur Franz plays a good bad guy, and the location is wonderful. The screenplay does generate some tension here and there, but an over-enthusiastic boom microphone will suddenly fall into a shot and kill the mood. By the time the climax rolls around, where a very large gun makes a laugh-worthy entrance, my patience had run out as well. As with many of these public domain films, this screenplay is screaming for a remake.

Star Claudia Jennings should have had a big career in television and films, but her life was cut short three years after this film was released (she fell asleep at the wheel and died in a car accident). Her charisma comes through onscreen. She found herself trapped in many exploitation films (she had been a Playboy Playmate), but seemed to be on the cusp of bigger things at the time of her death. "Sisters of Death" serves as a reminder of what could have been. The film is MPAA rated (PG) and contains physical violence, gun violence, some gore, some adult situations, and some sexual references. (* *) out of five stars. Buy it here!: Sisters of Death

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