Thursday, April 25, 2013

Switchblade Sisters (1975) Review

AKA The Jezebels, but I like "Switchblade Sisters" better.
It's hard to review movies like this. When it comes to grindhouse cinema, almost every film is totally unique. You judge them like typical Hollywood films-- if you did, you probably wouldn't enjoy many "cult" movies.

To me, the biggest difference when it comes to these low budget gems is the writing. In Switchblade Sisters, almost every scene has something to like about it. There's always a quirky, odd thing going on, combined with over-the-top characters and great dialogue... all in all, it's something you haven't seen before. But in full, the film is pretty messy. There are a lot of little things to like, and it keeps your interest-- but the film as a whole is all over the place. It's like they were making it up as they went along.

That's what I'm saying about these films, and how different they are. There's no three act structure, no midpoint, no resolution. Screw that crap. You notice the same thing in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and even in Coffy. The stories are almost told in this free-form style you would never see in a Hollywood production. And sometimes it works for the film... but more often than not, it doesn't. Despite everything there is to like about Pussycat, the film as a whole feels messy and padded. But does this free-form style work for Switchblade?

The film follows a gang of women-- women with names like Lace, Patch, and Donut-- and their endeavors. They get thrown in jail, recruit new members, clash with rival gangs, and that's about all there is to say. There's really no plot to speak of-- it's just one event after the other until the film ends. Yet, to me, this actually works for the film. It's the hodgepodge of incidents and over the top characters  that adds to the feel of the film. It's something you have to see to really understand.

Switchblade is something else, a film some have tried to emulate over the years-- most notably Quentin Tarantino. I noticed a couple similarities to Reservoir Dogs here-- from the rhythm of the dialogue to the violent finale in the gang's warehouse. Makes sense, since this film was recently rereleased by Rolling Thunder Productions, Tarantino's own production company.

So overall, is it worth the watch? Yeah, sure. I feel like it's good for writers-- screenwriters especially-- to take a break from cookie-cutter Hollywood films and check out some of cinema's oddballs. It's a good way to learn for yourself why conventional story structure is a good thing-- and why you don't always need it.

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