"There’s nobody to hear your scream…except your killer! During an all-girl secret society initiation, one of the new members is killed playing Russian roulette. Many years later, the survivors are invited to a reunion at a lavish estate, which turns out to be owned by the crazed father of the girl who died."
An obscure entry in the sorority prank gone wrong genre best epitomised by 1983’s HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW. Sisters of Death is not a traditional ‘slasher’ film. No mystery killer, no point of view stalkings and precious little bloodshed.
The film opens effectively with a sorority initiation going horribly wrong. A live bullet somehow makes its way into a phoney game of Russian roulette, leading to one unlucky pledge getting her brains smeared all over the carpet (If only they’d thought of simply getting interested parties to fill in an application form.) The film then cuts to 7 years later as the five girls who witnessed that night all receive mysterious ‘I know what you did last summer’ type notes, inviting them to a reunion. Judy (Claudia Jennings) is our lead, an upstanding young woman who is engaged to the Governors’ son. Sylvia, the girl who pulled the trigger that fateful night, has been so traumatised that she’s become a lady of loose morals, earning her living on her back. There’s hippie chick Penny, who’s like a more fragile version of Phoebe from ‘Friends’. Her initial concerns about attending are put to one side as her mystic guru informs her “There is no truth anywhere, the true is nowhere to be seen, you think that you have seen the true, then your seeing is not a true one” (this is the early 70s don’t forget). And completing the quintet there’s feisty Diane and the girl racer Francie who gets out of speeding tickets by pretending she needs to urinate. The five ladies are met at the rendezvous point by two men, Mark & Joe, who have been hired by some anonymous employer to escort the women to his very rural retreat. The escorts take a shine to the girls and decide to gatecrash the party. However, the mysterious invitee has diabolical plans in mind and locks everyone within his grounds courtesy of a very lethal electric fence. He soon reveals his identity to the 7 hostages. He is the father of the ‘murdered’ pledge and wants to know who planted the live bullet that night as he’s convinced it was a deliberate act and gives them until the following day to deliver the guilty party.
This is where the cheese really begins to set in. With the knowledge that an insane madman plans to kill one, if not all, of the group, the girls react to this news in varying degrees of idiotic ways. Francie's top priority, amidst all this mayhem, is to take a shower. Sylvia decides to sleep in her skimpy underwear, only to be menaced ‘Bond’ style by a tarantula. The rest of the gang just hang out aimlessly with no real sense of urgency to escape whilst our lunatic passes the time by playing his flute in the attic (oo-er missus). It’s at this stage you’ll make up your mind if you love or hate this movie. The slow, meandering, nonsensical middle section can test your patience to the limit. Add to this the fact that the movie looks VERY like a made for TV effort. This means no gore, no nudity and no swearing - so if they are the necessary criteria for you to enjoy a horror flick then I’d give this one a miss.
Still, I found myself enjoying SISTERS OF DEATH upon my second viewing. It has a grimy grindhouse 16mm look to it, an effective opening and a cynical denouement that is wonderfully 70s and seems almost out of place considering how the rest of the film is so by the numbers. And for cheese fans, there are numerous slasher-esque lines of silly dialogue such as “This would be a great place for an orgy” & “I’d like to freshen up in case I run into a good looking evil spirit”. The boom mike invades the screen from time to time to add to the unintentional mirth. The male lead wears a particularly obscene tight blue polo neck that will have most of us counting our lucky stars we weren’t old enough to be ‘fashionable’ in the early 70s. And when the men squash the tarantula that’s pestering Sylvia I was very surprised to learn that its innards consist mainly of whipped cream.
There’s definitely a much better film in here somewhere, waiting to get out. The scenes that should have your heart pounding seem rushed and ineffectual – whether this is the down to the lack of money or lack of talent is anyones guess as its difficult to track down any background information on this title (which probably is due to its general mediocrity). Still, you may recognise two of the cast members, lead actress Claudia Jennings was a bit of an exploitation veteran in the 1970s, appearing in cult favourites like UNHOLY ROLLERS (1972) and GATOR BAIT (1976). And Joe Tata (who plays Joe) went on to face the real horrors of acting alongside the apparently psychopathic Shannon Doherty in BEVERLY HILLS HILLS 90210.
BODYCOUNT 8 female:5 / male:31) Female shot in head