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Sisters (1973)

Verdict: Not recommended, unless you’re a De Palma junkie or a big fan of late night B-horror weirdness. 

I’m going to watch all of Brian De Palma’s films, starting with this one, which was made in 1973 and is basically a B-movie with some Hitchcockian touches.

Investigative reporter Jennifer Salt is certain she witnessed a murder through her window in the apartment across the street, but the police find no evidence of foul play, and don’t take her seriously.  So she begins following Margot Kidder, only to discover that she is one half of a pair of separated Siamese twins – the other half died during the operation.   But she turns into her evil sister when sexually aroused.   Kidder’s in love with her psychologist, who wants to marry her, but only after they can figure out how to have sex.

There’s not a ton to recommend “Sisters.” It has some ingenious use of split-screen, the “Rear Window” and “Cat People” references, and a chance to watch Margot Kidder fake a French-Canadian accent years before “Superman” made her famous.  It’s vintage late-night cable fare, and belongs there; it’s cinema trash, but not bad if trash is what you’re in the mood for.   But there’s hardly anything here that would communicate, in ’73, that its director was going to be commonly associated with names like Spielberg and Scorsese.  But I guess a guy has to start somewhere.

I wanted “Sisters” to end differently – it gets all weird at the end, where Salt is having dreams where she’s the evil twin sister, but then it resolves rather suddenly.  De Palma should’ve kept going with that thread – how cool if the psychologist was able to convince her that she WAS the twin sister, thus ridding the good sister of her evil half and allowing the doctor and the patient to get married and live happily ever after, at the expense of the reporter.  Not a happy ending, but a delightfully creepy one.  Maybe that kind of thing wouldn’t have flown in ’73.  If anyone ever remakes this movie, I hope they read this blog first.  My ending is better, don’t you think?


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