Owen Gleiberman
June 21, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Switchblade Sisters

Current Status
In Season
Robbie Lee, Joanne Nail
Jack Hill

We gave it a B

Sultry, trash-talking delinquent high school chicks brandish teeth, blades, guns, and (mostly) insults at one another in Switchblade Sisters, Jack Hill’s rude, crude whitesploitation extravaganza — a box office failure when it came out in 1975, but now being given a national rerelease under Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder label (after the execrable Chungking Express). It’s a true time-warp sleazefest — The Wild One starring the Manson girls after a makeover at the Jaclyn Smith Finishing School. The madly convoluted gang-war plot, which jams in everything from teenage drug and prostitution rings to inner-city Maoist guerrillas to a bloody roller rink massacre, pits Lace (Robbie Lee), the street-urchin leader of the Dagger Debs, against Maggie (Joanne Nail), a newcomer out to take her place. Lee, a snaggle-toothed nymph, delivers her shrill, taunting threats (”If you go, it’s gonna turn out baaad!”) in a voice you won’t soon forget — a snarl with a squeak in it. The rest of the ”actresses” seem to take a stoned pause before every line of dialogue. Yet that’s part of the lurid fascination of ’70s exploitation films — how nakedly the seams show. You can tell what the young Tarantino must have cherished in movies like this one: the spectacle of characters (especially women) spitting out raw, uncut aggression, with very little art to get in the way. B

You May Like