Plot Outline: Lace is the leader of The Dagger Debs, one of the roughest and toughest female street gangs walking the city. When they stumble upon a tough customer in the form of Maggie, big things begin to happen between themselves, their male role models The Silver Daggers and a rival gang trying to take over. With Lace’s boyfriend, the leader of the Silver Daggers taking a liking towards Maggie, the whole group is left in a bad position. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and feeling scorned by her friend Maggie and her greatest love, Lace could be trouble.
The Review: It’s about time I took some time out to view and write some words out on Switchblade Sisters. I don’t think anyone would consider my being a fan of Quentin Tarantino a secret, and with his promotion of this film along with my general intrigue of the film work of Jack Hill – I’m surprised it took as long as it did for me to get around to checking this little diddy out. Switchblade Sisters I think is pretty deserving of all the praise it tends to get, and I don’t just say that as a Tarantino fanboy following in his footsteps or something along those lines. I’m far from that friends and neighbors. Switchblade Sisters can’t really be tagged as just one particular style of film, it’s really unlike anything I know of Hill doing in his time. The pacing, the plot advancement, the beat of the drum that follows is all Jack Hill; no denying that. It has that same malaise, laid-back feel that Coffy and Foxy Brown (though, Coffy more than Foxy) where the plot doesn’t feel so much like a “plot” as it does a day in the life of this average female street gang – who just so happens to get wrapped up in a tense situation that is resolved in the third quarter of the movie. They say every film has it’s own beat, it’s own rhythm and it’s judged by the dialogue, plot interaction and trademarks of any given writer and I think Switchblade Sisters is a testament that such a thing is true. If there’s any film that just screams Jack Hill; it is this one. Even though the out of this world costume design and bigger than life characters remind me of another Hill, Walter Hill and his film The Warriors; Jack Hill, who retired from the movie business way too early in my opinion, left us with what might speak the very loudest for his career even if he has never really felt that way. People really are their toughest critics, and if you listen to the Tarantino/Hill commentary on the DVD it becomes pretty clear that Hill is just your every day perfectionist but it’s good that he has lightened up to the film over time.
As a Tarantino fan, and you may notice this is true since I have a link to the Tarantino Archives loud and proud on my front page, I’ve had conversations with a lot of different types of movie fans. Even if we are an assorted group, the thing we have all shared in common with the man himself is that we’re all movie geeks who live and breathe this sort of stuff. Although this article isn’t about Tarantino and I don’t think it’s fair to talk that much about the man in the discussion for a film completely unrelated to him other than through distribution – I just want to point out where this film is coming from as opposed to what you might consider, being that Tarantino is so big on it and took part in getting the film re-released here in the states. Basically, I think the term “exploitation” is thrown around a lot here lately and in many cases it really isn’t deserving. Most “blaxploitation” flicks really aren’t exploiting anything anyway, and a film such as Switchblade Sisters which may be a bit crude in some areas (the un-PC way of depicting lesbian prison guards, which by the way I find to be a breath of fresh air), but in no way would I really consider it exploitive. So, take that stereotype out of your mind. The second thing you might consider since Tarantino is so heavily involved in such a film is that it might be some kind of deep allegory for some greater cause, or it might be a high concept but low budget piece of artistic brilliance. Well, I don’t think it’s that either. What Switchblade Sisters is to me, and it fits into a mold of cinema that I think is far too underrated in this day and age when every film has to either “say something” or feature an outrageous amount of money spent on it – Switchblade Sisters is just: fun. It’s a fun film, made in a time when audiences were fickle, followed dozens of trends and when things were a little more simple. A time before we the audience weren’t so demanding, when the average movie-goer pretty much lacked the ability to tell the difference in quality of the bigger studio pictures (you know, excluding the really big stuff) and the smaller independents. Putting in Switchblade Sisters is a definite throwback, and although some might be rolling your eyes and saying “sounds like an excuse”, it really isn’t. Hill’s film is as fun today as it was during it’s release and although it is of course dated by today’s standards, it still stands the test of time and offers an awesome little action picture wrapped up in some brilliantly played storytelling and one adventure-filled script. That sounds a bit “TV-Guideish” for my standards of promotion for a film, but what can I say, Switchblade Sisters really is a throwback flick.
If ever I saw a definitive “exploitation” film that defined the seventies, I’d have to say Switchblade Sisters fits incredibly well in that category. It simply is the time that it was made put down on celluloid. Seemingly taking place in a somewhat futuristic scenario (as per what the director was going for), it is an outlandish and amusing film. It has a decent amount of flaws, like any of these films are going to have but we the film audience that such a movie was intended for easily look past the budget issues and some of the acting involved. Although, to get technical, the only real problem I ever had with Switchblade Sisters would probably be a slightly disjointed mid-section within the film. Although it adds to that malaise feeling I mentioned earlier, some times you find yourself wondering where all this adventure is leading. Regardless, I am a fan of Jack Hill and Switchblade Sisters is certainly a stand-out film in his cannon. If you can get your hands on it, I hope more people out there can pick it up and enjoy its greatness.