Girls in gangs camp it up with over-the-top performances in trashy B-movie

by Joey Guerra

Daily Cougar Staff

Leave it to Quentin Tarantino to salvage a trashy treasure like Switchblade Sisters out of the junk heap. This 1975 gem, directed by Jack Hill, was initially released to empty movie houses everywhere. Thanks to Tarantino (who is releasing the film under his Rolling Thunder production company), the Switchblade Sisters are back, and ready to rumble.

Switchblade Sisters focuses on a group of no-good girlies who brandish dangerous weapons under the name the Dagger Debs. Leading the pack is Lace (Robbie Lee), a half-pint pipsqueak who insists on uttering every word through gnashed teeth.

We are introduced to the dastardly Debs on an elevator, where they strip a landlord and take his money. From there, we travel to the Debs' usual malt-shop hangout. After clearing the place out and rough-housing with the guys in the Silver Blades, their male gang brothers, Lace notices one customer is still there.

Maggie (Joanne Nail) is the new girl in town, and she isn't about to leave for a bunch of lowlife losers. She stands her ground, and after she successfully humiliates one of the Debs, Lace decides that Maggie is top-quality material.

Plot really isn't the main focus here, but the girls go through initiations, cat fights, love triangles and a showdown between rival gangs that involves a tank. All the while, Lace, Patch (Monica Gale), Donut (Kitty Bruce) and Maggie engage in some of the most unbelievable developments ever seen on the big screen. Lace is fighting hard to retain control; Patch, besides having lost an eye in a fight, is wary of Maggie's intentions; Donut is the butt of many fat jokes, and Maggie just wants to fit in.

Actually, she fits in a little too well after Lace's boyfriend Dominic (Asher Bauner) rapes her. Maggie finds the experience a little rough, but soon decides she is in love with Dominic. Go figure.

The heat between Lace (who looks like an angry gerbil) and Maggie (a Charlie's Angels' reject) rises, and the girls conclude with a hilarious, silhouetted-in-the-shadows blade fight you have to see to believe.

Switchblade Sisters is not a movie to be taken seriously on any level. Cries of sexism may run rampant, but the movie's value comes from the seemingly unintentional humor that emanates from practically every scene.

Roller rink shoot-outs, lesbian prison matrons, cowering principals and even flying breasts are present, making sure every possible group is offended. This is camp of the highest order, and the laughs come one right after another.

If you're tired of high-quality, character-driven films with harrowing plot lines and unforgettable performances, go see Switchblade Sisters with a bunch of your closest friends. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder where they got those deadly chain-link belts.

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