Savage Sisters (1974)
Hi all, Nate here. This is a bad movie. Not only a bad movie, but a nasty, brutal, distasteful movie full of gruesome death and wanton violence (and none of the good kind). Filmed in the Philippines with a mostly American cast, it's at all points a film about Commie revolutionaries, about women in prison, about authorities with a sickening contempt for human rights, and about bouncy boobs of all ethnicities and races. Plus everyone is so damned sweaty. I realize it's near the equator in August, but still, there's an inordinate amount of perspiration in this movie, which just plays hell on all the polyester and Aquanet.
The story is a simple one, in some Banana Republic stand-in for the Philippines, the sudden appearance of 1 million US dollars in cash makes everyone freak out. The money is chased, caught, lost, and re-taken by local boonie-hat guerrillas, by ruthless brigands, by white girl mercenaries, and by all stripes of politicians and soldiers. Everyone wants it all, or a cut, and everyone is perfectly willing to murder anyone who gets in the way. In the end, the money winds up with a white girl (who let her friends get shot to save her neck) and a black girl (who earlier was a paid torturer for the army), and damn near everyone else ends up dead. The movie closes before we learn where the two girls go with the cash, but we can assume that one of them (probably the black girl, she's cold) killed the other and took all the money for herself.
The case holds the ca$h.
Can I give you all a few rocksolid reasons why you shouldn't waste your valuable time on Savage Sisters? First off, it's a very formulaic action movie with a plot that you've seen a hundred times before (assuming you've already watched a hundred poorly-made cheaply-shot jungle exploitation movies, that is). The money is the MacGuffin, the Ronin briefcase that everyone is chasing and killing for, but people just end up doing terrible things just because they are terrible people. There are a few “twists”, but nothing that comes as a surprise, or wasn't obviously telegraphed, and you can guess with 99% accuracy who will live and who will die long before the closing credits.
I hate this guy so much.
The combat scenes are chintzy and amateurish, like something ten of your frat buddies would do with a GoPro, some Airsoft guns, and a lot of alcohol. The weapons are clearly props, the foley'd in gunshots are laughably off, the stuntmen fall down off cue for no reason, and they couldn't even afford blood squibs. Since so much of this movie is scenes of dudes (and chicks) shooting at other dudes (and chicks), it really becomes noticeable early and often that they weren't really going for “realism” (or, more likely, couldn't afford realism). I applaud their willingness to mow down countless innocent civilians, blow up bridges, murder guys in wheelchairs, and riddle Cadillac DeVilles with bullets, but the action scenes are so poorly staged that you end up wishing they would all just sit down together over some watered down Japanese beer and talk things out. Maybe they could just put the money in a 401k account with multiple beneficiaries?
Amazingly inaccurate machinegun.
The dialogue is terrible, some of the worst I have ever heard on screen. And not just the broken English of the native Filipino actors, that I can excuse, or even the dead-man-walking monotone drone of the frequent ADR voice loops, those rarely work in any movie, but the actually lines spoken by the ex-pat American actors and actresses are on the level of a 500 dollar porn movie scripted by a deaf-mute child. A good actor can read a bad line and make it sound better, and a good script can make a bad actor sound like a professional, but when you have neither then you are left turning down the volume on your speakers and just halfheartedly reading the subtitles to follow along. The subtitles are also terrible, btw.
Let the guns do the talking.
The female leads are completely wasted in this movie. Sure, collectively they drive the plot along and are the nominal stars, but if you really think about it they aren't given much of any chance to become anything other than one-note cardboard cut-out characters. There's the white girl, the black girl, and the Asian girl, all with predictable cultural and ethnic stereotypical behaviors and ways of speaking, and at no time do any of them do anything unique or surprising. The white girl is going to be a snooty, imperious blonde, the black girl is going to be a jive-talking Black Power hipster, and the Asian girl is going to be smart and sassy and overtly sexual with men. Boring.
She's about to pull his dick off with that rope. Really.
Lastly (but by no means finally), there are no likable or sympathetic characters you can root for. Everyone is motivated by the desire to get the money and will kill, maim, insult anyone who gets in their way. Our three female leads are all especially odious people, former torturers and bloodthirsty mercenaries and backstabbing whores, all of whom will and do double-cross each other at the drop of a hat. The few male characters we follow are all universally detestable as well, corrupt soldiers and moneygrubbing carpetbagger Americans and child-murdering psychopaths, not a one you hope will make it out of this film alive. It's like Seinfeld with machineguns and a de-sensitivity to violence. I hate all of them.
Yes, even the hot chicks.
Now, all that said, there are actually some reasons why you should watch Savage Sisters. Just get really drunk first. Are you drunk yet? Good. First off, despite what you might be expecting, there's an amazing lack of nudity. Even boobs are rare as a full set of teeth in Kentucky here, I think I remember maybe one nipple the entire film. There's a LOT of cleavage and bras and miniskirts, but seen through modern eyes, it's no more racy than any episode of The Bachelor. In fact, you can tell the director went to great pains to frame shots so as to hide any bare naughty bits, while giving you the impression that they are really there, juuuuust behind that strategically placed palm leaf or desk lamp. In a movie filled with such horrendous violence it's such a Catholic thing to hide the boobies from us like that.
Obligatory forced shower scene. Sigh.
Even though the nudity is kept to a minimum, there's some weird sex stuff going on here. A gay dude's penis gets yanked off (literally), a girl is tortured with a spiky dildo on a cordless screwdriver, chunky hookers smother tiny guys with sex, three chicks line up to have sex with a Texan with a mustache, and our lead bad guy military officer turns out to be a furry, demanding that he be treated like a dog while being whipped. There's hardly any traditional “normal” sex, and certainly no lesbian make-out sessions (boo!), but all the weird, kinky stuff sure keeps it interesting. It's just really odd to have all that without nudity, like a PG-13 Fifty Shades of Gray.
He likes it!
Assuming you find a guy getting run over by a jeep humorous, there are a lot of surprisingly funny comedy moments sprinkled throughout. No one is telling corny jokes, or even stupidfunny one-liners, the comedy comes from some genuinely witty lines and the physical performances of several of the actors. These are just over-the-top enough to be funny but not too Mister Bean to pull you out of the movie. Since more time and effort was put into the script's funny parts than the serious action parts, you wonder sometimes if Savage Sisters was originally written as a parody spoof of exploitation films, before some killjoy studio executive decided to play it straight, and a few hints of the old script still remain in the final print. Stranger things have happened in the back offices of dodgy Filipino production companies.
Finally, the single best reason to watch Savage Sisters is Sid Haig, the semi/sorta/notreally famous American actor, who here is playing the deranged head of the bandit gang. Apparently the director told Sid to just wing it and act as wild-eyed, hooker-shooting, batshit crazy as he could. Either that or Sid was high as fuck on LSD the entire shoot and was just going with it. It doesn't matter, though, because what he gives us is one of the greatest kill-nutzo kooky gonzo performances of all time. Imagine Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow, but with 645% more cocaine and 0.000009% of the payroll and you have a pretty good idea of what you'll see. I should do a super-cut of just his scenes, that would be the best movie ever (but I won't).
Sid, on the right, with his manservant One-Eye (really).
So, more than enough ink spilled on this miserable movie. Go read a book.
Got a little muffintop going on there, girl.
Written in May 2015 by Nathan Decker.
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