Jack Hill’s penultimate directorial effort gets a lot of love from Quentin Tarantino, who re-released it on his Rolling Thunder Pictures label, and Sam Ashurst raved about it on the Arrow podcast, but Switchblade Sisters underwhelmed me.
The film opens with the Dagger Debs, a girl gang whose definition of tough involves cartoonish antics like cutting up their victims’ clothes, using a plunger on their heads, and stuffing them in trashcans. Robbie Lee plays their leader, Lace. Lee looks young enough to convince but lacks the underlying grit. Asher Brauner plays Dominic, Lace’s boyfriend and leader of the bigger male gang, the Silver Daggers. Joanne Nail plays Maggie, a new girl in town who proves her mettle by standing up to a Dagger Deb named Patch. Dominic takes a shine to Maggie. After an uncomfortable scene where rapes her, an Othello plot kicks in with Patch as Iago whispering in Lace’s ear to betray Maggie.
It’s not an awful film, but I struggled to buy into the world. Brauner and Nail both pushing 30 doesn’t help. Nor does the ludicrous Road Warrior third-act street battle. But it ends strong once the emotional stakes catch up with the narrative ones.