Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sisters of Death (1977)

Sisters of Death starts off rather intriguingly, where two girls are getting initiated into a sisterhood. At first glance, this looks like an occult thriller, as the initiation takes place in this huge gothic set, with a large fireplace, and the girls are decked out in these magenta gowns and veils. Then for the coup de grace, in the final piece of initiation, they play Russian Roulette with a Derringer pistol! The gun sadly does fire into the heads of one of the girls, blood flies onto the magenta garments, roll credits.

But sadly, this flick doesn't offer much of the same fireworks after that. The movie, looking like it could've been a Friday night thriller shot for ABC television, is an easy to watch, but flyweight "Ten Little Indians" ripoff, which would become a standard plot device for such slashers as Prom Night. We flash forward to the present, "seven years later", when the girls are each given anonymous invitations to attend a reunion. They all meet in the parking lot of a hotel and then are approached by two guys who are to escort them to the actual reunion location. Sure, the guys are total strangers, and their car's windows are frosted in, but it's the 70's right? So naturally off the fun-loving gals go. Finally, they arrive at a mansion with a "Welcome Sisters" sign at the pool, bathing suits and booze laid out for everyone. But the party doesn't last long, as this reunion is part of a revenge plot hatched by the father (Arthur Franz) of the girl who was shot in the initiation years earlier.

The production history of Sisters of Death eerily resembles the structure of the film itself. It was shot in 1972, yet stayed on the shelf for several years before getting released. Therefore, drive-in fans in 1977 would be surprised to see Claudia Jennings, the Queen of the B's in a minor role, despite that she's second-billed. Perhaps her's is given the most development among the women in peril, since she's the one most haunted by the gruesome initiation gone wrong (as seen in a nifty double exposure), but largely the characterizations are two-dimensional (despite their amusing hedonistic ways) thus we don't much care what happens to them. It's apparent the scenario finds Franz the most interesting person, as we follow him dashing from secret compartments, and playing the flute! This mild good time is full of such ingredients as electric fences, spiders, and slashing, and while it's all a pleasant night at the ozoner, it's still average. As a vehicle for Claudia Jennings, her fans will be disappointed to see that she's given little to do. (Trivia note: one of the two guys who escort, and later help the girls out of danger, is recognizable character player Paul Carr, seen in dozens of television appearances. He would co-star with Ms. Jennings again in Truck Stop Women.)

RATING: 2 mosquito coils out of five.

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