Switchblade Sisters (1975)

So easy to love. So hard to kill. Man, if there’s such a thing as a perfect movie, put Switchblade Sisters on the list.

Maggie (Joanna Nail, the mother of The Visitor!) has moved to a new high school run by the Silver Daggers and their women, the Dagger Debs. Maggie gets caught up in an arrest and when she’s in hail, she attacks a lesbian warden (Kate Murtagh, The Car) and gets the Dagger Debs on her side.

While Lace, (Robbie Lee, who went on to do voices on cartoons like Rainbow Brite and The Smurfs) the leader of the gang, is in juvenile hall, Maggie runs errands for her. One of them, delivering a love note to Lace’s boyfriend Dominic, leads to that boy assaulting Maggie. And the second-in-command of the gang, Patch (Monica Gayle, the star of Nashville Girl!) already doesn’t trust her. After all, Patch gave her eye to be a Dagger Deb.

Once Lace gets out, she gets back with Dominic. She’s thrilled to tell him that she’s pregnant and he all but drives her to get an abortion. Her payback comes in selling him out to the new gang in town, one run by Crabs. She wants them to hurt Dominic and kill Maggie, but one of the girls gets assaulted and Lace herself gets attacked and loses the baby. Only Patch knows the secret that the gang’s leader went against the gang.

Maggie kicks the boys out, adds in black girls* that she grew up with and deals with Maggie in the only way possible: she stabs her in the throat. The new gang, the Jezebels, are soon arrested by the police, including a maniacal Maggie, face covered in blood and screaming at the cops. It’s an amazing visual and even more striking when every girl yells that they are a Jezebel and that Patch doesn’t belong.

Our heroine screams that the Jezebels will be back, but sadly, there was never a sequel. That’s a shame because I could ten more of these films.

I love every movie that Jack Hill has ever made. From his work with Boris Karloff (House of Evil, Fear ChamberThe Snake PeopleAlien Invasion) to Spider BabyThe Big Doll HouseThe Big Bird CageCoffyFoxy Brown and Sorcess, he’s always someone who can reliably make something entertaining.

The girls in this feel real, even if they have names like Donut (that’s Lenny Bruce’s daughter) and go to school to basically have a place to beat up men. My favorite scene in the movie is when they roundly thrash a guy just so that the teacher can finish teaching a lesson on the meaning of laissez-faire.

This is a movie that has its roots in the teenage girl gang 50’s, but it’s brain and heart in the end of the world 70’s, as these girls have nothing and everything to live for all at the same time. It’s pretty obvious why Quentin Tarantino would choose to champion this movie.

“You can beat us, chain us, lock us up, But we’re gonna be back, understand? And when we do, cop, you better keep your ass off our turf or we’ll blow it off! You dig? We’re Jezebels, cop. Remember that name. We’ll be back.” – Maggie

*Marlene Clark from Ganja & Hess!

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