Savage Sisters (1974) DVD Review: Filipino Exploitation Madness

How does one even begin to describe Savage Sisters? Well, first off, it’s a film from the one and only Eddie Romero — the infamous Filipino schlock auteur responsible for the Blood Island movies — so that might give some of you reading this a clue as to what the movie will be like right then and there. Like several of Romero’s English-language exploitation productions, Savage Sisters features the late, great John Ashley in a prominent role.

Here, Ashley (who also co-produced) co-stars as W.P. Billingsley, a shady Southern boy in a Banana Republic who introduces the story (as well as himself, amid a trio of ladies), and who is clad in the best ‘70s clothing imaginable.

And what a story he tosses us into, too! Billingsley, as it turns out, is one of several key players in this sleazy rat race wherein the prize is a million dollars in U.S currency. The money is originally stolen by a gang of revolutionaries, who are then double-crossed by the gang they have joined up with to finish the job (as well as finish off the men in possession of the moolah). Said gang is led by two of the finest, hammiest actors ever: Sid Haig and Vic Diaz — who exaggerate every single expression, exchange, and execution to the max.

The main characters here — the Savage Sisters that the title of the movie refers to — consist of policewoman Lynn Jackson (Gloria Hendry) and Mai Ling and Jo Turner (Rosanna Ortiz and Cheri Caffaro, respectively — the latter of whom is second-billed, but nonetheless credited as a “Guest Star” owing to her success in the Ginger films), the two revolutionaries she busts out of stir from the evil Capt. Morales (Eddie Garcia, another Romero regular) and his squad of goons once she learns of the cache of cash that’s ripe for the picking.

Surprisingly, despite all the sexual and violent content depicted in Savage Sisters, it emerges as a relatively tame flick. The girls appear nude in several scenes, but are always covered up to the point where nothing is really “shown.” The same goes with the violence: a thug chops off the hands of two corpses (the poor schmucks that were handcuffed to the briefcase full of money), and the bloody act is almost entirely bloodless.

The reason for this “less is more” way of doing things is attributable to the heavy Filipino censors (or maybe the print used in this transfer was a severely edited one) — and it makes the whole movie extremely weird: imagine a brutal action film with loads of dark humor; a lack of socially-redeeming values, morals, and logic; and with a heap of sex thrown in, too, but without any of the action. Indescribable? Hard to put into words? Now you know how I felt.

Of course, I’m not trying to say Savage Sisters is a bad film. It is, as you can very well imagine (it’s an Eddie Romero flick, after all!), and the movie’s attempts at dark humor are almost as skimpy as the onscreen sex and violence. Nevertheless, despite an overall deficiency in terms of coherency, meaty stuff, and reasons to watch the movie in general, Savage Sisters almost emerges as being enjoyable. MGM adds this class-ick to their Limited Edition Collection lineup of Manufactured-on-Demand DVD-Rs in an admirable presentation with a campy theatrical trailer included as the disc’s sole special feature.

Recommended for a night in with a case of beer and a couple of pizzas.

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Luigi Bastardo

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