“Sisters – Criterion Collection” (Brian De Palma)

I’ve never been much of a Brian De Palma fan, and was surprised the Criterion Collection would release one of his films, but maybe I’d rent it anyway [Netflix]. Sounds like fun, in a certain kind of mood.

Sisters, 1973, directed by Brian De Palma, screenplay by Brian De Palma and Louisa Rose, story by Brian De Palma.

When is a travesty not a travesty?

When it’s a De Palma movie.

Actually, the right answer is when the travesty succeeds on the same terms as its model, no matter how over-the-top and exaggerated it is. That’s what makes Starship Troopers a parody of dumb action movies and an effective summer blockbuster; that’s what keeps the soundtrack to This Is Spinal Tap on the shelves. And that’s what makes Sisters so enjoyable to watch, even if it’s a travesty of Psycho: it’s also creepy and suspenseful in its own right. Here’s Brian De Palma on his obvious debt to Hitchcock, circa 1973:

I have found that people who like and are knowledgeable about Hitchcock also like Sisters—they know the references I am making to his films and they seem to appreciate it all the more for that. Which is good, because you could so easily be attacked as a tawdry Hitchcock rip-off.

The question isn’t whether or not Sisters is a tawdry Hitchcock rip-off, the question is, why does De Palma think that’s an attack? Sisters is certainly tawdry: it’s about siamese twins, one of whom has the unfortunate habit of stabbing men in the crotch with a chef’s knife.

[Click to continue reading The Criterion Contraption: #89: Sisters]

According to the Netflix suggestion engine (remember this discussion?), people who probably would like Sisters liked:

Touch of Evil

The Wicker Man

Blood Simple

Blue Velvet

Mulholland Drive

Since I’ve seen all of these films, and and enjoyed them enough to give a star rating, maybe I’ll like Sisters after all…

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