Roberta Findlay should be a household name to most filmgoing perverts. Her career began in 1964 with BODY OF A FEMALE, a film she photographed for husband Michael and close friend John Amero. Moving on from there, the husband-wife team produced some of the most outrageous, vile and entertaining roughies of the grindhouse era, including the FLESH trilogy (1967-1968), A THOUSAND PLEASURES (1968), THE ULTIMATE DEGENERATE (1969), and MNASIDIKA (1969). By the 1970s, the marriage had hit the rocks, yet they continued to work behind-the-scenes on low-budget horrors like SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED (1974) and INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS (1972). Their final film together, SNUFF (1976), resulted in Michael going his own way, photographing hardcore gay porn films for Amero before his accidental death in 1977. Where Michael seemed to have an aversion to diving into the hardcore genre, Roberta had already been going strong in the new freedom of pornography since the early 1970s! She had a special feminist quality to her hardcore films, including ANYONE BUT MY HUSBAND (1975), ANGEL ON FIRE (1974), A WOMAN'S TORMENT (1977), and MYSTIQUE (1979). It was her infamous cash-in on the tragic suicide of Shauna Grant, SHAUNA: EVERY MAN'S FANTASY (1985), which caused her to be tossed out of the adult film industry on her ear (though she did make one more porn film in 1987). After working for over a decade in sexploitation and adult films, Roberta turned to low-budget horror films, which were once again back in style thanks to the success of slasher films like the FRIDAY THE 13TH series. The same year as her exit from porn, Findlay directed her very best non-adult film, TENEMENT, which will be released by Shriek Show soon. BLOOD SISTERS, however, is one of her last gasps at filmmaking and is probably her least successful horror flick.
A little boy tries to pay a blonde classmate to show him her no-no place, but she screams "Pervert! Pervert!" and sends him running home, to his mother's whorehouse. Frustrated at being rejected by the eight-year-old hottie and constantly being seduced by his madam mother's coked-up hookers, he grabs a shotgun and blows away Mommie Dearest and her stoned Hispanic john (in a sequence shot entirely in POV, ripped from Carpenter's HALLOWEEN). Thirteen years later, a local college's sorority house invites their pledges to spend the night in the abandoned whorehouse, where one by one, they are methodically killed off. To make matters worse, a group of frat assholes have littered the house with pranks and scare tactics.
Where BLOOD SISTERS is its sublime cheesy 80s atmosphere. If tons of big hair, bad synth music, outrageous overacting, odd nudity, and goofy violence sounds like heaven, BLOOD SISTERS is a must-purchase. But for those viewers who want a little more to their bad horror movies, there is really very little to savor about this one. Sure, the dialogue and characters are entertaining, but the plot is very hard to follow, the music nauseating, and never once does the film click and make a lick o' sense. For prime Findlay horror, check out LURKERS (1988), her last film to date, shot entirely on-location in Manhattan and actually quite a creepy little timewaster (it's available in Rhino's HORRIBLE HORRORS VOL. 1). One point of interest is the fact that one of the pledges is played by writer Maitland McDonagh, who wrote the Argento book Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds and recently appeared on the Bravo miniseries "100 Scariest Movie Moments of All Time."
For such a smelly turd of a film, Shriek Show has done a bang-up job restoring the film. Considering it was made in 1987, the transfer shouldn't look too bad anyway, but colors are quite robust, grain kept to a minimum (Findlay shot on pennies), and letterboxed at 1.85:1, this is the best-looking Findlay film to hit disc yet. The mono audio is merely OK; the film is quite dialogue-heavy and the microphone tends to sound as if it's a good distance from the actors.
the disc really delivers (and why even those who hate the film will be glad they
picked this one up) is the extras. First up, hold on to your hats: Roberta Findlay
makes her DVD debut in a short, entertaining video interview! Roberta has aged
well, and her Jewish Yenta accent is as endearing as it was in her dubbing performances
from yesteryear. Dressed in a cute skirt, Roberta tells the real reason why she
made BLOOD SISTERS ("the accountant said we made a lot of money on the two
previous pictures"), how she adores lighting and camerawork, and audience
responses to the film. Also included in the interview segment, and not mentioned
anywhere on the disc or its artwork, is Jennifer Rose, who played uber-geeky 'Bonnie'.
Rose discusses how she was so happy to work with Roberta Findlay, the grunge filmmaking
techniques she experienced and some special facts about the shooting of her death
scene. Also included is the original theatrical trailer and previews for Shriek
Show releases HELL HIGH, DUCK!, FLESH FOR THE BEAST and SLAUGHTER HOTEL. Also
of interest is another Joe Bob Briggs intro and commentary. While his previous
involvement on INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES... was much-appreciated and a lot
of fun, his input here covers all the bases, from cast and crew background, commenting
on Roberta's cost-cutting and the on-screen results, and poking fun at the on-screen
shenanigans. However, Joe Bob makes the cardinal mistake of claiming that Mike
and Roberta made the OLGA series (Argh! That was Joseph Mawra!) and mentions Mike
was decapitated in 1977 (he in fact was not, but it was a helicopter accident).
Don't let it happen again, Joe Bob! (Casey
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