Sunday, July 11, 2021

Switchblade Sisters – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1975
Director: Jack Hill
Writers: F.X. Maier, Jack Hill, John Prizer
Cast: Robbie Lee, Joanne Nail, Monica Gayle, Asher Brauner, Chase Newhart, Marlene Clark, Kitty Bruce, Janice Karman, Don Stark

Release Date: April 19th, 2021 (UK), April 27th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Time: 90 Minutes 11 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: £24.99 (UK), $39.95 (USA)

"Lace (Robbie Lee), the leader of inner city girl gang The Dagger Debs, meets her match when new girl Maggie (Joanne Nail) moves into the neighborhood. Mistrust and conflict turn to friendship as the girls end up in Juvenile Detention together at the mercy of abusive guards. Meanwhile, The Dagger Debs' male counterparts The Silver Daggers have to contend with the arrival of a new gang, led by the villainous Crabs (Chase Newhart). But when the girls get back on the streets, a planned retaliation strike in tandem with The Silver Daggers backfires and puts Lace in hospital. Maggie assumes control, teaming up with Muff (Marlene Clark) and her gang of African-American militants from across town to declare all out war. But there's a traitor in their midst..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "The film was restored from the best available archival elements by the filmmaker. The HD master was supplied by Subkultur Entertainment."

Switchblade Sisters comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 45.2 GB

Feature: 27.3 GB

Considering the limitations of the source used this transfer looks very good. Image clarity, colors and black levels look strong throughout. That said, there are some minor density related issues.

Audio: 4/5

This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. There are no issues with distortion or background hiss, dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and ambient sounds/the score are well-represented.


Extras for this release include reversible cover art, Still Galleries: Behind the Scenes, Promo Stills, Lobby Cards, Posters and Home Video, trailers for Switchblade Sisters (3 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), The Jezabels (3 minutes3 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Spider Baby(3 minutes 7 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Pit Stop (2 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Coffy (1 minute 56 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Foxy Brown (2 minutes 1 second, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles) and The Swinging Cheerleaders (2 minutes 37 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), an archival interview with director Jack Hill, actresses Robbie Lee and Joanne Nail (7 minutes 48 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with Jack Hill and Joanne Nail at The Grindhouse Film Festival (9 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), a featurette titled Gangland: The Locations of Switchblade Sisters (6 minutes 54 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an archival making of documentary titled We’re The Jezebels! (39 minutes 19 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an audio commentary with film historians/critics Samm Deighan & Kat Ellinger and a thirty-two page booklet with cast & crew information, Operation Butterfly Eyepatch: An Interview with Jack Hill, an essay titled On Maggie’s Rape written by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, an essay titled You Can’t Stop the Children of the Revolution written by Heather Drain and information about the transfer.


Though Jack Hill is most remembered as an exploitation filmmaker, most notably who worked in two of American cinema’s bigger sub-genres in the 1970’s Women in Prison and Blaxploitation. To simply write off his films as by the numbers genre filmmaking would be doing them a great disservice, since Jack Hill was a maverick filmmaker who has many films that remain as powerful today as when they were first released.

Case in point Switchblade Sisters, a film that has many elements that Jack Hill explored in Coffy and Foxy Brown. Only this time around instead of a film that revolves around a streetwise female protagonist who can go toe to toe with any man, Switchblade Sisters revolves around a girl gang named The Dagger Debs. Reportedly, William Shakespeare's Othello greatly influenced Switchblade Sisters.

From its opening moments there is a level of intensity that does not let up. Along the way the narratives' many peaks and valleys give key moments an ample amount of time to resonate. With the finale providing a perfect climax to the events that have unfolded.

When discussing Switchblade Sisters one must overlook or undervalue just how good the cast are in their respective roles, especially the female characters. With the most memorable performances being Robbie Lee in the role of Lace the leader of The Dagger Debs and Joanne Nail in the role of Maggie, a new member of The Dagger Debs that Lace see’s as a rival.

Jack Hill’s rock solid direction fully exploits Switchblade Sisters limited resources. The fight scenes are well-executed and there’s an ample amount of moments that explanation cinema fans should thoroughly enjoy. Ultimately, Switchblade Sisters is a highly entertaining film where everything falls into place.

Arrow Video gives Switchblade Sisters a solid audio/presentation and a wealth of insightful extra content, highly recommended.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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