(Release Date: August 1977)
It's also about as well done and logical as a locally created commercial for a spiritless nightclub. Well, hell, it's an independent film, and it's lucky it got released. In more than one country at that, and on more than one DVD. Interesting, no? Not bad for a film directed by the Executive In Charge of Production for She-Ra: Princess of Power, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and BraveStarr! Yep, good old Joseph Mazzuca himself directed this one... though at least two of the varied DVD releases credit the directon of Sisters of Death to "John Kelly". Weird.
By any name, the director hadn't hit it big as an Action Cartoon executive when this film was being made. In fact, from what I've read, this thing sat in cold storage for five years after its 1972 wrap before it saw the light of any theatre.
Perhaps that's just keeping in track with the theme of the film. One dreary night three hot sorority sisters are inducting three hot pledges into their ranks. As a test of their mettle, they play a quick and friendly game of Russian Roulette... six girls, five chances for a miss... Hmmm...
Yeah, Elizabeth "Liz" Clybourn (Elizabeth Bergen) takes a live round to the head and the other five girls are shocked this happened. I actually thought it was kind of predictible until someone mentions there were only supposed to be Blanks in the gun.
Seven years have gone by and the five surviving Sisters have gotten on with their lives with relative success. For example, Judy (Claudia Jennings) is a successful and very famous fashion model (and she looks it) while Sylvia (Cheri Howell) has become a high priced and cynical Hooker (and she looks it). But right around the anniversary of that fateful night, both girls along with the other three, Diana (Sherry Boucher), Francie (Sherry Alberoni) and Penny (Roxanne Albee) are invited to a reunion at a secluded desert resort. For some reason beyond sanity, they all accept.
And when they meet up at some secluded truck stop, they even accept a ride from two strangers out to the final destination (Joe E. Tata's Joe and Paul Carr's Mark). Once there, the ladies do some partying and bikini modeling before the real inspiration behind this story kicks in. You see, it appears that writers Peter Arnold and Elwyn Richards have been watching a lot of Agatha Christie adaptations because right about then it's revealed that they're all trapped there and will soon be facing their crimes one by one. Well duh!
That's all in the hands of Liz' father Edmond (Arthur Franz), who planned the whole thing. Be aware, please, that all this happens in the first small part of the film, and there's no mystery surrounding this. Sylvia's demand to know which one of the girls is working with Clybourn is soon shared by the audience (those still watching). The "Who Done It" aspect is both found in who is killing the girls (if it's not Clybourne solo) and in what really happened that night years ago.
Sound interesting? Well, it is. Conditionally. First, one must accept that this film was made with not very much money with no stars and a primarily borrowed plot. The Sorority Angle adds a sexy little twist to it, but really one that could have spiced up an episode of Quincy. There's not quite enough spice here to keep it fresh.
That said, Sisters of Death does keep the viewer guessing somehow. The problem is that the guesswork takes an eternity, and there's not a whole lot to keep us terribly excited at each turn. Mazzuca's directing less builds tension than it does inspire a tad of boredom. It's not that bad and the women are very beautiful, but there's just not much there.
For those of you seeing this title and reading the content, expecting an Exploitation Flick, the title is as close as we get to that genre. There's no nudity and only sparse violence. Although it carries an 18 Rating in the UK, this is far from Video Nasty territory! In fact, it's rated PG in the United States.
The acting isn't so great and the writing is derivative. The directing is passable for the level this was, but it's also not the best. A few more twists and maybe gratuities and this could have been an all right film, if only for the TV Movie of the week. But there's little logic involved (one character dies from a bullet in the butt cheek) and not enough pay off. Taken for all with all, Sisters of Death manages Two Stars out of Five. I guess that's the difference between American and Italian trash from the 1970s. In Italy there would have been a drawn out skinny dipping scene with some lesbian sex afterwards and perhaps even a big evisceration scene done on a rubber puppet. But hey, ah? These are the Dog Days of Summer! See you in the Next Reel!
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