Switchblade Sisters (1975)

“Stop that fighting, girls.”

It’s 70s. It’s camp. It’s sexploitation, but to categorize Switchblade Sisters as just these three things simply doesn’t do this film justice. I’ve had a copy of Switchblade Sisters on my unwatched film shelf for some time, and I finally decided to take the plunge and give the film a go. I loved it!!

The Dagger Debs are an all-female gang led by the pixie-like, leather clad Lace (Robbie Lee). Lace’s man is Dominic (Asher Brauner) the leader of the Silver Daggers. When new girl, Maggie (Joanne Nail) arrives on the gang’s turf, she fights her way into the gang, and a short stint in the local jail bonds Maggie and Lace. As Lace says, “it ain’t healthy to lone it,” and Maggie soon becomes Lace’s best friend and one of the more aggressive gang members.

Meanwhile another gang led by “capitalist gangster” Crabs (Chase Newhart) is about to muscle in on the Silver Daggers’ action, and the stage is set for a major showdown. When the male gang members fail to match the aggression of their female counterparts, the Dagger Debs stop being just arm decorations and seize control.

A communist Mao-quoting, all-armed-all-girl gang, a corrupt principal called Mr. Weasel, a food fight, frumpy, boozy housewives, and a war between sadistic female wardens and female inmates using toilet plungers as weapons–yes, it’s all here, and it’s all marvelous entertainment. Switchblade Sisters had me hooked from the beginning to the very last brutal scene. The film has its extremely clever moments–in one scene, for example, a timid high school teacher tries to teach the gang members a lesson on the theory of “laissez-faire” government.

Most professional film critics pan this film, but Quentin Tarantino selected Switchblade Sisters as a serious, solid film from a much-slammed genre–and he’s right. Switchblade Sisters, from director Jack Hill is a wildly entertaining cult gem–and it really should not be missed.

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