They were joined at birth by the devil and the evil never left them!
1h 33min | Horror, Thriller
Directed by Brian De Palma
Brian De Palma
Edward R. Pressman
16 mm (flashback sequences)
American International Pictures (AIP)
Murder, Siamese twins, mental hospitals, and a witness that no one believes. That’s the action in short without spoiling too much for the film Sisters from 1973 (it had the more promising title: The Devil's Blood Ties (djävulens blodsband) in Swedish).
The absolutely most intimidating with Brian DePalma's Sisters film, is the music. Already in the highly unpleasant opening credits, with pictures of the fetus inside a womb (which could have been quite evocative with more soft ambient music), you understand that the intrusive sharp music will have a prominent role. And it would be strange if the music didn’t take place when it is composed by the great Bernard Herrmann, Hitchcock's favorite composer. The thing is, that the whole movie is like an homage to Hitchcock, especially those of clear voyeuristic scenes where the protagonist spying on a house with binoculars. But the thefts are well-made and De Palma masterfully builds up tension in the scenes where the action takes place in different locations simultaneously (sometimes using cross-cutting and sometimes split screen). But the style is used a bit too often, making the tension decrease slightly during the movie.
Another clear influence that De Palma must have had, are the Italian Giallo movies from the 60-70 century (with Mario Bava and his protogé Dario Argento in the lead). It figures a clear fascination with the knife (or meat ax for that matter) in Sisters, in the same way as in the Italian films. The psychological overcomplicated explanation for the killings, was also widely used in the Giallo genre.
So, what’s the verdict your honor? The film feels better now when I write about it, than when I saw it. But I still enjoyed most parts of the film and the discovery of all references to Hitchcock and Giallo movies makes me feel smart;)
So if you are interested in the 70s "New Hollywood" movies, Giallo, Bernard Herrmann and sliiiiiightly to bright red blood, it’s a good watch. Otherwise, see Brian De Palma's Blow Out 1981 with John Travolta for a more blockbuster-like feel (that's right, even that film has a great deal to thank Italy for ...)
One last piquant detail is that Margot Kidder (Louis Lane in the Superman films), which has a maximum unhealthy split personality in Sisters, in real life became crazy and was found with a shaved head in a garden screaming that she was being followed (insert Twilight Zone theme here ...)