When Alfred Hitchcock was still alive during the 1970’s, a young indendepent filmmaker named Brain De Palma directed a fantastic-made low-budget cult horror mystery classic in tradition of Hitchcock’s films, titled SISTERS (1973).
SISTERS tells the story of a model name Danielle Breton (played by Margot Kidder of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE (1978) and THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (1979) fame) who happens to have a crazed Siamese twin name Dominique, for which they have been separated for years now. The film opens with, at first, a man (played by Lisle Wilson) watching a blind woman (but not really blind & is Danielle) undressing in a locker room, and switches to a TV show titled “Peeping Toms” (a game show on voyeurism). Then, we move to this couple falling in love. It seems to look like a pleasant picture from start, it actually isn’t. The next day, Danielle’s lover listens to a conversation between Danielle and Dominique while in his sleep & runs to pick up some things for them (including a birthday cake, since it’s the girls’ birthday). Once he arrives home, he brings the cake to (who might be Danielle but isn’t) Dominique, to wish her a “happy birthday”. Dominique doesn’t look too happy and unlike Danielle, she stabbs this man to death leading to signaling help to their neighbor Grace Collier (played by Jennifer Salt), a newspaper reporter. She goes on a case to solve this murder mystery with the help of a detective while Danielle’s ex-husband (played by Bill Finley) decides to clean up the murder and hide her lover’s body in a couch, for which nobody would ever find. The mystery gets deeper as Grace’s partner finds a profile on both Danielle & Dominique, only to discover their history and leads to an unforgettable surreal twist like anything you’ve seen.
In SISTERS, De Palma makes his first tribute to the works of Hitchcock that led to directing other thrillers such as CARRIE (1976) and DRESSED TO KILL (1980). The filming was shot in 8 weeks under a budget of half-million, De Palma uses a split-screen techinque for certain scenes on one’s point of view along with the other. When you are watching the split-screen scenes, it feels like you are watching two different scenes at the same time. This film reminds me of PSYCHO (1960) because of the storyline is simliar and how it is made (except SISTERS is De Palma’s film), like the first murder scene and the ending, for some examples. Another fact is that Bernard Herrmann (who was Hitchcock’s composer) composes the film’s startling-amtospheric score (simply at one of his best). Both Kidder and Salt played some interesting characters that stay true to their performances as Danielle & Grace (but not to mention Finley as her creepy ex-husband as well). Yet, this is De Palma’s best thriller I have recently seen, next to DRESSED KILL, that keeps me guessing from start to finish as we witness the mystery that surrounds the characters’ world.