30th Apr2014

‘Sisters’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Jennifer Salt, Margot Kidder, William Finley, Charles Durning, Lisle Wilson, Barnard Hughes, Mary Davenport, Dolph Sweet | Written by Brian De Palma, Louisa Rose | Directed by Brian De Palma


Fans of Alfred Hitchcock movies will watch Brian De Palma’s Sisters and at the beginning notice that the music sounds a little like that out of Psycho. Then they’ll notice that the relationship between the two sisters is a little like Norman and his mother, before they are suddenly slapped in the face with a change in tone and suddenly it’s Rear Window. I guess you could say that De Palma was ripping off Hitchcock, it’s been said many times. In my view though this is of little importance when Sisters works so well. If you are going to take inspiration in your filmmaking from anywhere, why not copy off the master? Plenty of others have done so.

When Grace Collier (Jennifer Salt) witnesses a murder through her apartment window she calls the police.  Upon arriving at the murder scene they find no evidence of a body, only Danielle Breton (Margot Kidder) and her husband Emil (William Finley). As the police decide there is no case to investigate Collier delves into Danielle’s past to find the truth.

When looking at the obvious connections to Hitchcock’s work in Sisters, there are also other directors influence at work within the movie, that being Roman Polanski. To me this is not a case of actually stealing a person’s work but paying homage to the fact that these people were some of the best. The fact that Sisters touches on Psycho, Rear Window, Rope and Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby shows De Palma is a fan of what makes horror work at its best. Add the fact that his own style of using split screen to add tension to the scenes is prevalent and you have a movie that succeeds in being effective and disturbing. I particularly like the use of the split screen to show the police arrival as Emil rushes to clean the apartment and hide the body, the closer they get the more the tension builds.

The idea of Danielle and Dominique being conjoined twins is interesting in a horror setting, especially the fact they are two very different characters, something we often see in real life conjoined twins. It’s not hard to see what is taking place in Sisters, especially for people who have seen enough films of this type, but it’s the relationship between the two that creates the most interest and the mystery surrounding the events taking place. The connection between the two is not only represented as a physical one but mental, which is used to create the “monster” that is capable of murder. There is a reason for these killings, and of course this is part of the revelation at the end of the movie, so I won’t spoil it here.

Margot Kidder really plays the roles of Danielle and Dominique well, it is obvious that the character herself is based on Norman Bates from Psycho. Emil’s protection of her at at first across as obsessive, but as is typical in the movie is much more complicated. It’s interesting that while William Finley plays the character as a creepy stalker his intentions are not actually evil, although his past actions may be said to have been not particularly morally correct.

Arrow Video have kept to their high standard with the release of Sisters, and although I reviewed this using the DVD it still had a high quality transfer.  Not as good as the Blu-ray of course, but for a film its age Sisters definitely looks good.  With special features that are informative and interesting Arrow have shown their continued love of the movies they release, and for fans of horror and movies themselves this is another must own.

Sisters is out now on “dual format” DVD and Blu-ray from Arrow Video.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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