Movie still from 1975's "Switchblade Sisters".

Switchblade Sisters April 25, 2015

“You can beat us, chain us, lock us up. But we're gonna be back, understand? And when we do, cop, you better keep your ass off our turf, or we'll BLOW IT OFF! Ya dig? We're Jezebels, cop — remember that name. We'll be back!” Switchblade Sister Maggie (Joanne Nail) screams at a policeman.  She is covered in blood, the survivor of a knife fight in which the other participant wasn’t so lucky.  She is perhaps too hysterical to realize that she’s most likely going to die in prison. But it makes for a hell of a closing statement. And this film is all about statements.

 

This rabid speech falls at the end of Switchblade Sisters, coming in the wake of gang wars, rapes, roller rink shoot-outs, and gory revenge.  For a sleazy throwback of a thursday, it’s a laughable nightmare of low-budget tackiness; for an exploitation flick, it’s a slow day. 

 

It follows Maggie, the new bad girl in town who joins the Dagger Debs after a violent meeting. The bond between Maggie and her cohorts grows tight in a snap, post-arrests and all, but things get messy rather quickly. The leader of the pack’s (Robbie Lee) boyfriend (Asher Brauner) rapes Maggie, causing tension, and a rival group viciously attacks the Debs and their male duplicates seemingly out of nowhere.

 

Switchblade Sisters is a gut-busting assortment of atrocious writing, poor acting, and dreadful directing, but all those things are charms rather than obstacles. We cherish  the one-liners (“Freeze, greaseball!”), the way the majority of the actresses like to speak through their gritted, yellowed teeth, how Jack Hill injects life into even the most putrid of scenes.

 

It touches on issues like gang rape and murder and sexism and miscarriage, but the tendency to only prick each item as a sort of prelude to the eventual bloody retribution, though, can be disconcerting.

 

Much of the attractiveness of Switchblade Sisters is accidental. It means to be badass, but the film is better when it’s attempting to be serious and ends up going down the shitter. Switchblade Sisters is pretty bad, but at least it’s fun bad. C+