• Switchblade Sisters (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: April 20th, 2021.
    Director: Jack Hill
    Cast: Robbie Lee, Joanne Nail, Monica Gayle, Asher Brauner, Chase Newhart, Marlene Clark
    Year: 1975
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    Switchblade Sisters – Movie Review:

    And here we have director Jack Hill's fantastic 1975 ode to bad girls, Switchblade Sisters. The film follows the exploits of Maggie (Joanna Nail), the quiet kind who more or less keeps to herself. Her life takes an interesting turn when she's hanging out at a hamburger stand one night and an all-girl gang called 'The Dagger Debs,' shows up. They try get everyone to leave, but Maggie stands her ground which leads to a fight with their tough talking leader, Lace (Robbie Lee). This little scrap lands all the ladies in a detention center where, in order to get back at the lesbian warden, Lace and Maggie put aside their differences. When they make it out of the big house, Maggie joins the gang at Lace's request.

    Lace is involved with a guy named Dom (Asher Brauner), a tough dude who leads a gang of his own called 'The Silver Daggers.' When Dom starts making eyes at Maggie, you just know there's going to be some serious tension - and Dom doesn't make it any better when he follows Maggie home and rapes her one night. Fellow 'Dagger Deb' Patch (Monica Gayle) learns about this and starts putting ideas in Laces head, ideas that indicate Maggie is actually to blame here. If that weren't bad enough, there's a rival gang called lead by Crabs (Chase Newhart) out to make things difficult for everyone. And then there's Muff (Marlene Clark), she and her crew are militant feminists (and communists!) with a serious axe to grind with any man who gets in their way. When Dom gets shot by Crabs' crew at a roller skating rink, Maggie winds up taking charge of the gang but Lace and Patch? They're not going to take to a change in leadership so easily, nor does anyone intend to let Crabs get away with murder.

    As wild and colorful as anything Jack Hill has made before or since, Switchblade Sisters is a ridiculously entertaining picture full of unexpected plot twists, questionable loyalties and more backstabbing and trash-talking then you can shake a pig sticker at. While yes, on the outside this is delirious exploitative insanity at its best, there's enough character development and genuinely well thought out plot devices here that, as trashy as it can get, it's still a legitimately well-made movie.

    Hill paces the pictures very well, it's never dull, and he keeps the action and violence coming regularly enough that we never seriously question the fact that our teenage characters are played by actors well past their eighteen birthdays. The acting might be subpar by most standards but you've got to admire the conviction shown by the leads, if not the delivery. It's all done with such obvious intent to entertain rather than impress that, warts and all, it's just a really fun way to kill an hour and a half. Throw logic out the window and don't think too hard on this one and just appreciate the fact that it offers up all the sex, violence, colorful characters and instantly quotable dialogue you could want from a seventies drive-in movie about girl gangs. Hill just takes the insanity inherent in the concept and runs with it, and we're all better off for his efforts.

    Switchblade Sisters – Blu-ray Review:

    Switchblade Sisters arrives on region Blu-ray from Arrow Video in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up 27.86GBs of space. Without the German disc from 2016 on hand to compare this release to, it’s impossible to say for sure but it’s a safe assumption that this transfer uses the same source as that release. Which is fine, as the transfer here is pretty nice. Colors look good, though contrast can sometimes look just a tad hot. The image is always nice and film-like, showing plenty of natural grain. There’s some minor print damage here in the form of white specks but nothing to ever really take you out of the movie at all. There are no problems to report with any noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement.

    The only audio option for the feature is a 24-bit LPCM Mono track, in the film’s native English. Optional subtitles are offered up in English only. No issues to note here, the audio is clean, clear and nicely balanced with the film’s fantastic score having some appreciable depth to it.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary by historians/critics Samm Deighan and Kat Ellinger. They talk about the juvenile delinquent themes of the film, the potentially feminist angles of some of Jack Hills work (even if it may have been unintentional), what sets this movie apart from other similar pictures, the parental situations of the main girls in the film and how it affects them, possible influences that worked their way into the picture, contributions of the different cast and crew members involved in the picture, the lesbian overtones of certain relationships in the movie, some of the logic gaps that occur in the movie and plenty more. It's a good mix of trivia and opinion and the pair are clearly having a great time dissecting the movie.

    The rest of the extras are archival, starting with We Are The Jezebels, a documentary featuring director Jack Hill, producer John Prizer, casting director Geno Havans, production designer B.B. Neel, stunt coordinator Bob Minor, and stars Joanne Nail, Asher Brauner and Chase Newhart. Here, over the span of forty-minutes, the featurette covers what it was like making movies in the seventies, how they came to be involved with Switchblade Sisters, the themes that the film deals with, what it was like on the set during the shoot and plenty more. This is very nicely put together and quite interesting.

    Gangland: The Locations Of Switchblade Sisters is a documentary in which Jack Hill and filmmaker Elijah Drenner revisit the shooting locations of Switchblade Sisters. Here, over seven-minutes, the pair explores the locations that were used for the film and we get a look at how they’ve changed over the years.

    Jack Hill And Joanne Nail At The Grindhouse Film Festival is a 2007 interview with the director and actor that clocks in at ten-minutes where the two guests of honor at a screening of Switchblade Sisters briefly field some questions about making the picture.

    The Interview With Jack Hill, Robbie Lee And Joanne Nail is a 1990s interview with the director and stars in conversation with Johnny Legend. In this eight-minute audio only interview, originally recorded for a VHS release, we get a quick recap of what the three participants got up to on set and their feelings on the film.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc are galleries of behind the scenes stills, international posters, video covers, and lobby cards, a few theatrical trailers, menus and chapter selection.

    As Arrow has only sent a test disc for review, we can’t comment on packaging or insert booklets. If finial product is sent, we’ll update this review accordingly.

    Switchblade Sisters - The Final Word:

    Switchblade Sisters is a legitimately great film, an exploitation classic and one of the coolest bad girl movies of its era. Those who already own the German Blu-ray release won’t find much new material here, but the new commentary is quite good and the presentation is solid. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Switchblade Sisters Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      Going to have to double-dip for the Kat and Samm commentary track
    1. Newt Cox's Avatar
      Newt Cox -
      Been wanting a better copy of this for years.All I have is the old ROlling Thunder Pictures VHS. Just pre-ordered this. Great review.