“SWITCHBLADE SISTERS” (A.K.A. “THE JEZEBELS“) (1975)
Films that purport to be Exploitation cinema but follow the routine thematic formulas of this breed of cinema without encompassing genuine prerequisite exploitation elements is simply trash without a reason to exist.
Jack Hill’s “Switchblade Sisters” (alternately titled “The Jezebels”, without any greater success) is such an animal; a mutt masquerading as an overbred canine- a compendium of drive-in trash cinema clichés encompassing a random Column A/Column B selection from gang films, blaxploitation cinema, vigilante films, drug films, teen films, sexploitation cinema and women-in-prison melodramas- with no apparent decision ever made on which avenue to focus on. Its a virtual “greatest hits” version of exploitation but on somnambulist cruise control.
The film follows the exploits of two high school gangs, though most of the participants look about a decade too old, one named the Daggers and their female counterpart The Dagger Debs, who later in a break from the male of the species, to become The Jezebels. The events that lead to this change bring about the only remotely interesting aspect of the film; an indelible feminist viewpoint of empowerment.
Despite the fact that the subordinate Dagger Debs are the girlfriends of the male gang, they are treated as shabbily and with the same lack of respect afforded their victims in the surrounding community. This has little to do with machismo or an innate toughness, but is a sloppy perspective perpetrated by director Hill who set a general standard in all of his exploitation films of celebrating the empowered woman by treating them as proverbial sexual objects as gratuitously and insultingly as possible.
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