To some, exploitation cinema is trash. Badly made, thrown together, piles of garbage out for a quick buck that sometimes oversteps the mark called bad taste.
To others they’re a veritable goldmine that involves first swimming through piles of garbage to find a gem that transcends the genre.
It’s all a matter of opinion. Mine being that Switchblade Sisters is that transcendent.
It doesn’t take much to get me excited when it comes to girls kicking ass on screen. As long as they’re doing it, I’m easy money. And Jack Hill gave me a whole gangs worth to get behind.
The Dagger Debs as they are known, are all going steady with the guys who run the town, The Silver Daggers. The Silver Daggers are the power and see The Debs as accessories at best. Using them as props. Gaining money from prostituting one and just generally treating them like dirt.
This isn’t the Silver Daggers story though. This is the rise, fall, and final rise of The Dagger Debs baby. And rooting for them is a joy.
Lace (bottom, middle) is the leader of the Debs. Played by Robbie Lee, this lady is a phenomenon. Robbie Lee has a real “nice girl” look about her. The fact that she pulls off the brutal, take no shit, badass leader so effortlessly is a proof of how much this lady can run.
(I want this photo framed)
Lace is an awesome leader. Though her power-hunger and jealousy would inevitably be her downfall. I love how far Robbie takes the character too. She’s intense enough when she’s on top. But she just goes wayyyyyy off the chart when her place at the top of the Debs is in jeopardy.
Having a rotten-to-the-core boyfriend Dominic, who is also the leader of the Silver Daggers, Lace and her girls are always second in command while she continues to take shit from her “love”
Maggie has other ideas.
Maggie joins the Debs after refusing to take any shit from THEM, the authorities, and, well, just about anyone. Maggie was always going to be the eventual leader.
Caught in a triangle with Lace and Dominic after Dom has his cake and eats it (bleurgh), his rotten ways start the ball rolling on Lace’s jealousy and inevitable downfall. Maggie doesn’t so much rob her place at the top of the Debs. She does what should have been done from the beginning. And that’s to dethrone the Silver Daggers and show that the power lies with the girls.
This internal conflict is going on while they’re all at war with the Crabs Gang. It’s marvellous stuff.
Joanne Nail is remarkable. Taking Maggie to the top with a performance so full of guts and fury that it’s one of those iconic characters that stays with you forever. Joanne is my kind of actress.
There comes a turning point in this movie that gets me so excited and gleeful that it never gets any less reaction from me no matter how many times I see it.
Maggie gets tired of being the Silver Daggers bitches. Tired of what the name Dagger Debs stands for in this sense. Renaming the girls The Jezebels (evil and scheming), she takes the girls to new heights.
Removing the Silver boys from the picture altogether, she sets out for war with the Crabs Gang armed with her contacts in the underground and The Jezebels. It’s Boys v’s Girls. It’s The Jezebels time to shine. It’s fucking amazing.
Under the surface of all this fighting and betrayal is Patch (Monica Gayle).
Always in Lace’s ear with paranoia and lies, her quest for her best friend/obsession to remain on top is what is actually tearing the girls apart. As well as Dom and his despicable Dom-ness. (spits)
I despised Patch on first viewing. Still do. Hats off to Monica Gayle. Because not only does she play it so well that I could feel such a disliking for her. But she is so effing cool and comfortable in her role that you can replace all the negative words above with “adore” and it would adequately convey how far across the spectrum this woman makes me feel. What a star.
(I love this photo of Jack Hill and the girls)
Rounding off the front and centre of The Jezebels are Donut (Kitty Bruce, left) and Bunny (Janice Karman, far right).
Both bring a brilliant game, and I adore each of them as much as the others I’ve mentioned. Both are kind of the whipping girls for Lace when she needs to remind people who’s in charge of the Dagger Debs. In contrast, both are accepted and trusted gang members under Maggie and The Jezebels. Love it.
Director Jack Hill would launch Pam Grier off into goddess territory with his movies Coffy & Foxy Brown. Mix that together with his kickass girls in Switchblade Sisters and it’s safe to say that the guy likes to write his women strong.
Jackie Brown would get me interested in who this Pam Grier chick is. Jack Hill would cement her as my Queen. It’s safe to say I love the guy. And Switchblade means as much to me as Pam’s two films do.
I don’t know how to praise the guy any higher.
The solidarity of the ending (SPOILER INBOUND) is mind-blowing to me. Throughout the entire reign of the Dagger Debs, every time the police come a-knocking, the Debs claim they know nothing of the gang that the 5-0 speak of. It’s a form of solidarity that always makes me smile, knowing they will be out of jail in a week or so.
When the final scene unfolds and a murder is involved, the Jezebels realise it may not be such an easy ride.
Rather than rat Maggie out to save ass, the girls band together as one and proclaim themselves to all be a part. All of them a gang. The final shot above of a bile-spewing Maggie telling all in hearing range that the girls will be back and to watch out gives me goosebumps. It could be considered a sombre end that the game is up if not the fact that, under Maggie’s leadership, the game is only just beginning.
I fucking love Switchblade Sisters
Thank you for your time xxx