Sisters of Death | Starring Arthur Franz, Claudia Jennings, Cheri Howell, Sherry Boucher, Paul Carr, Joe E. Tata & Sherry Alberoni | Written by Peter Arnold & Elwyn Richards | Directed by Joe Mazzuca | 87 minutes | 1976
An occult-tinged sorority initiation leads to the death of a pledge in a prologue that teases a different sort of horror experience than the film actually delivers.
[I watched Satan’s School for Girls. Satan’s School for Girls was a friend of mine. Sisters of Death, you’re no Satan’s School for Girls.]
Seven years after the hazing death, the surviving sorority members receive an anonymous invitation to a reunion in Paso Robles. Why Paso Robles; why NOT Paso Robles? Seemingly unfazed by their tragic past—or irresistibly drawn to the prospect of a full welcoming champagne brunch—they gather at a remote estate, only to find themselves trapped and isolated inside an electrified fence.
“I really don’t think you should take a shower.”
The purported culprit of this proto-slasher reveals himself early, as the sisters begin to be killed one by one. For a seventies horror, the film is remarkably tepid, almost playing like a made-for-TV project. The kill sequences are mostly bloodless, and the most suspenseful scene arguably involves a tarantula crawling across a bed. Later, the film resorts to another potential animal attack, this time a rattlesnake, to wake up its audience. Even after abandoning all pretense of reason with a laugh-inducing set-up involving a character announcing that—in the middle of all the murders—she intends on taking a shower, the ultimate payoff fails to generate any shock or titillation.
Logic unravels completely at the finale, but the unexpected introduction of a gatling gun almost compensates.