You know how when you go to the video store and they have like a 7 movies for 7 bucks for 7 days sort of deal and it takes like 5 minutes to find the first 6 tapes and the best part of a frickin' hour to find the last one? Well, I was in that position about 10 years ago and happened upon a copy of Switchblade Sisters. I'd seen it there several time before but had always passed it by for one main reason: Movies with titles that good and cover art that good would always disappoint. But this time I was desperate and my hour long parking had almost expired.
Anyhoo, about 90 minutes after popping that tattered old Starbase cassette into the VCR, I almost shat myself over how frickin' amazingly good Switchblade Sisters was. Despite being low in gore and nudity, I was totally gripped from beginning to end. It turned out that well-written, well-performed characters, and a good story are enough to make a movie entertaining. All the more surprising because exploitation movies of the early seventies were usually devoid of such qualities.
It's the story of Lace, leader of the Dagger Debs, and newcomer Maggie, who's friendship with Lace leads fellow Deb, Patch, into a campaign of jealousy and deceit. Switchblade Sisters improves on Shakespeare's Othello in the same way that West Side Story improved on Romeo & Juliet, but without the need for musical numbers.
Thankfully, this is an excellent transfer. There's very little evidence of film grain or damage and no compression artifacts to speak of. Colours are very solid and natural. Apart from the fact that this transfer isn't anamorphic, I can't really see any room for improvement here. It's even very difficult to pick this as an NTSC disc.
The mono sound, given the nature and age of this film is perfectly well presented. Don't expect anything special, but do expect dialog to be perfectly clear without distortion. Like with the video, you really couldn't do better than this.
Now before I go on about the extras, let me just get something off my chest about this DVD's cover. Just because Quentin Tarantino's Rolling Thunder was responsible for this movie's revival (and God bless Tarantino for that), it doesn't mean that his name and face should be plastered all over the cover. Hell, the way it's presented, you'd forgive the uninitiated for believing that Tarantino actually had something to do with the production of Switchblade Sisters. This is a shameless marketing ploy to sucker naive Tarantino fans into buying something that has enough merits to sell itself.
Speaking of Tarantino, he pops up a few times in the extra features on this disc as well, but these are far more welcome appearances than those on the packaging. Firstly, he chats away with director Jack Hill on a very good feature length commentary. Here Tarantino takes the position of Switchblade Sisters fan and prompts Hill with many questions that us fellow fans would be wondering about. He also presents an intro and outro to the film, the outro being quite a good little presentation about Switchblade Sisters, and Hill's other films. There are also trailers and selected scenese from many of Hill's exploitation pictures (including Coffy, Spider Baby and The Big Doll House), as well as Hill's student film 'The Host', which to be honest, is a one-watch affair.
Overall, Switchblade Sisters is a fantastic blend of classic exploitation film elements (including sluts-in-slammers, blaxploitation and teen-gang-warfare) and masterful story-telling and direction. It's definitely one of the finer moments in exploitation film history and deserves the fine treatment that Buena Vista have given it.