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Blu-ray Review: Brian De Palma's SISTERS Goes Criterion

Out now from the Criterion Collection, comes the Blu-ray release of Brian De Palma’s Sisters. It’s the director’s (CarrieRaising Cane, Scarface, Dressed to KillThe Untouchables) first film where he began to develop the style he became known for, with split screens, voyeurism, and Hitchockian shots and dread all on display.

Sisters is also the breakout performance and role of Margot Kidder (Superman, The Amityville Horror). Here, she plays Quebec twins Dominique and Danielle who have more than just minor issues. Fresh off a weird TV show called Peeping Tom, model/actress Danielle invites a man out for dinner and back to her home from the show, all the while followed by her creepy ex-husband.

It isn’t long until things go bad, and one of the twins stabs the guy to death in their apartment. Local report Grace Collier (Jennifer Salt) happens to catch the man painting “help” in his own blood on the window from her own apartment. Of course, she alerts the police who don’t believe her, especially since she’s written editorials about police brutality (not much has changed since then).

They find nothing, due to the nearly meticulous clean-up of Danielle and her ex, Emil (William Finley). De Palma’s awesome split-screen technique shows both the murder scene clean-up, as well as the interactions between Grace and the police at the same time, and how close the police come to running right into Emil.

As it turns out, Emil is also the head of a weird institute for Freaks-ish people and the insane, as well as a surgeon and psychriatrist of sorts who gaslights women in the most dangerous ways possible. When Grace comes sniffing around, he has her trapped with just a sentence to one of his orderlies. He then mesmerizes her, and as you can imagine, things no longer go well for the spirited reporter.

I won’t give anything else away, but  Sisters is worth the watch to see the beginnings of classic De Palma. There isn’t too much grain, and the 4K restoration makes the picture look excellent, especially for an early ’70s release.

The included deluxe booklet has an in-depth essay from critic Carrie Rickey, but the clippings from a De Palma interview and article written by the director himself — on working with the brilliant, but rage-filled composer Bernard Herrmann are both illuminating and hilarious.

Special Features: 

  • New 4K digital restoration, approved by director Brian De Palma, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with actor Jennifer Salt
  • Interviews from 2004 with De Palma, actors Bill Finley and Charles Durning, editor Paul Hirsch, and producer Edward R. Pressman
  • Audio from a 1973 discussion with De Palma at the American Film Institute
  • Appearance from 1970 by actor Margot Kidder on The Dick Cavett Show
  • Photo gallery and radio spots
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Carrie Rickey, excerpts from a 1973 interview with De Palma on the making of the film, and a 1973 article by the director on working with composer Bernard Herrmann
  • New cover by Jay Shaw

For the trailer and for more info (the Blu-ray and DVD are currently on sale), head on over to Criterion here.

Sisters

Director(s)
  • Brian De Palma
Writer(s)
  • Brian De Palma (screenplay)
  • Louisa Rose (screenplay)
  • Brian De Palma (original story)
Cast
  • Margot Kidder
  • Jennifer Salt
  • Charles Durning
  • William Finley

 

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