Switchblade Sisters [1975]

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Jack Hill's 1975 drive-in opus, Switchblade Sisters, has all the requisite cheese and then some: girl fights, gun duels, sex-starved reform school guards, flashes of nudity, and even African-American-Maoist-revolutionary-butt-kicking chicks who don't take nonsense from anyone. The story is a prime example of how the influence of great filmmakers can be reprocessed into pure exploitation: Maggie (Joanne Nail), a smart, new member of a distaff gang, presents a threat to the group's established leader (Robbie Lee). The intricacies of their subsequent relationship--love, betrayal, and a battle for control--has numerous echoes of the films of Nicholas Ray and Howard Hawks, and Hill plays it all with a seriousness that underscores the heart within this trash classic. No wonder Quentin Tarantino became this film's latter-day benefactor, promoting its 1998 theatrical re-release under the auspices of his revival imprint, Rolling Thunder Pictures. --Tom Keogh

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