savage sisters 1974

Grindhouse Fest: Savage Sisters (1974)

-Grindhouse Fest is the special section in Celluloid Dimension where you can discover all the goodies…and baddies from the golden age of exploitation cinema. Have fun!

Savage Sisters (1974) Directed by Eddie Romero

Intertwining casuistry and consequentialism, Savage Sisters directed by B-movie virtuoso Eddie Romero – the Filipino equivalent of Jack Hill – reinforces one of the most ubiquitous political motifs in the rich exploitation filmography of the Filipino director: demythologizing the romanticized ideology of Third World faux-democracies and the concomitant perils of a militarized society. As in many of his other forcefully caustic exploitation escapades, Eddie Romero’s Savage Sisters takes place in some nameless fictitious corrupt tropical country existing under the atavism of an autocracy masquerading as a democratic nation.

The three kick-ass feminist heroines of this offbeat take on the women-in-prison genre are Gloria Hendry, Rosanna Oritz and Cheri Caffaro, the badass subversive combo who put all their efforts into getting their hands on a briefcase containing $10 million purloined by Malavasi, an unsavory felon played by Sid Haig – his wackiest performance ever – the tragicomic scenario is that the $10 million belongs to the illegitimate military regime, so the biting gag delivered as an amoral irony is that there is no compunction in stealing money belonging to another thief, no culpability, this is a treasure hunt where the wrongdoers are the ones who participate, not characters of unblemished ethics.

American beach boy John Ashley – in one of his last major production team-ups with Romero – plays a suave charlatan also chasing after the million-dollar briefcase, his exhilarating pantomime of self-important masculinity amps up the film’s more uproarious humorous side; though the prurient flavor of the satire stems unequivocally from the theatrics of Eddie Romero, who dramatizes this sleazy escapism with the far-fetched façade of a political pop art commercial, thus bringing a hysterical spin to the women-in-prison routine by rendering the implausible proceedings as a grand gesture of political awareness.

If you ever had any doubts about the genius of Eddie Romero – arguably the greatest Filipino exploitation entertainer – Savage Sisters will convert your skepticism into rapt attention, whether you’re a genre aficionado or not, this is peak pop entertainment. “Sex, politics and money” says in a cartoonish tone John Ashley’s hedonistic character speaking to the expectant audience about to witness Savage Sisters, as you can tell, Eddie Romero incorporates politics into the customary equation of exploitative Americanisms, and the outcome here is bombastic fun.


Matteo Bedon

Written by

Editor and Official Film Critic at

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