Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sisters of Death (1977)

This silly horror picture begins with a weird ritual scene in which several robed women, part of a group called “the Sisters,” test the mettle of two acolytes with a game of Russian roulette. The gun goes off and one of the would-be sisters dies, cueing a string of freeze-frame screams over the opening credits. Seven years later, the survivors of the ritual receive invitations to a reunion party in the California desert, which they happily accept. So, in the course of about 15 minutes, Sisters of Death raises a multitude of questions it never answers. Why were the women surprised death was a possibility when playing Russian roulette? Why didn’t they just go on about their business after the acolyte died? Why, if the ritual were traumatic enough to break up the group, would they cheerfully reunite? And what, exactly, was the purpose of their organization in the first place? Satan worship? Avon sales? Instead of answers, Sisters of Death presents a goofy revenge plot in which the crazed father of the dead girl traps the survivors in a private estate so he can figure out which one pulled the trigger on his sweet little girl. Also thrown into the mix is pair of horny young dudes hired to drive the women to the estate; they linger afterward because they’re hoping to get lucky. To its very limited credit, the movie features a few colorful deaths (by electric fence, Gatling gun, rattlesnake bite, scissors), plus occasional weird details like the scene in which the villain takes a break from killing people in order to practice his flute playing. (Really!) However, Sisters of Death isn’t exploitative enough to thrill fans of trashy cinema, so the only point of interest is the presence of leading lady Claudia Jennings, a sexy strawberry blonde who turned her status as Playboy’s 1970 Playmate of the Year into a decade of B-movie stardom before dying in a car crash at the age of 29.

Sisters of Death: LAME

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