2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 29: Sisters (1972)

29. DOUBLE TROUBLE: There’s gotta be some twins in there somewhere. 

Brian De Palma was inspired to make Sisters after reading an article in Life magazine about how Soviet conjoined twins Masha and Dasha Krivoshlyapova were separated. A photo at the end of the article — along with a mention that the girls were developing psychological problems — struck him, as one twin looked happy and the other appeared to be deranged. And, as always, Hitchcock loomed large, as the script that DePalma wrote with Louisa Rose was directly inspired by his films Rope — the tracking shot that follows the murder of Phillip — and Psycho, as the main character shifts during the movie. He even got Bernard Hermann to come out of retirement and record the music for the movie.

In fact, DePalma had cut his movie to another Hermann score. When he showed it to the composer, he answered back, “Young man, I cannot watch your film while I’m listening to Marnie.”

The film has since influenced countless others. I can see echoes of the documentary within this film on the film within Get Out that details another sinister operation.

An operation is behind much of the horror in this film, as Danielle Breton and Dominique Blanchion (Margot Kidder, as always perfect) were separated and perhaps one of the two did not survive. Then there’s Emil Breton (William Finley, the literal Phantom of the Paradise), who is either Danielle’s ex-husband or the doctor who helped take the twins apart or both. And an investigation into the murder that starts the film and the hypnotic suggestions that perhaps there was no real murder at all.

DePalma has a career that some would say is filmed with misogynistic films, but here, this is the rare slasher with female killers and male victims. Of course, you can also read into this that women’s liberation — somewhat literally — has caused all of these issues.

This is the film where DePalma found his way. Of course, he found it by following in the footsteps of someone else, but if anyone could be the next Hitchcock, he made the best attempt.

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