Celebrating Brian De Palma’s 45th Year Anniversary of ‘Sisters’

 

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I saw a murder, and I’m going to prove it!

Brian De Palma’s seminal masterpiece and his first foray into the Psycho thriller is a welcome addition to any film fans collection. Hypersensitive cinematography and dripping with Hitchcock allurement, Sisters is just important today as it was yesterday.

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Having directed only political comedies by this point, most notably greetings, and Hi Mom with Robert de Nero. Movie goers in the seventies must have had their minds blown when capturing and captivating Sisters for the first time. A sort of precursor to Stephen King’s masterpiece, Carrie, which De Palma helmed in 1976, in which he reached near-perfection in the horror genre, heightening and altering the tension into an orchestrated blood-bath of telekinetic terror.

SISTERS MOVIE TRAILER

Sisters was directed by Brian De Palma, in 1972. It was produced by Roger Corman’s American international pictures. Brian De Palma is something more than just a Hitchcock imitator… he is a master of the thriller and horror genre.

The story is bizarrely plotted with many sub-stories weaving throughout Jennifer Salt as the lead journalist, who witness a murder from an apartment window. The owner of the apartment just happens to be a French Canadian female played by Margot Kidder. Black Christmas and Superman are also worth noting. Black Christmas references Sisters, and could have possibly inspired the slasher film as we know it.

Salt, the reporter, is then led on a wild goose-chase as she believes this may be just the story she needs to become a breakout reporter. From the opening title sequence to the still images of conjoined twins and the ever accumulative score of master composer, Bernard Herman – the viewer is reminded that he or she is going to be lost in a forgotten parallel universe with Daphne Du Maurier and Alfred Hitchock’s love child.

Whilst writing the story, It is relatively well known that De Palma was inspired by Life Magazine – Rare Study of Siamese Twins in the Soviet. It is also worth noting the profound influence Du Maurier has and had on De Palma’s storytelling. The doppelganger… the fear of the past… and the separating of self, and In some ways, one can almost feel and experience that De Palma is rehearsing and exercising his directing chops for Carrie, which I might add – Carrie and Sisters makes for the perfect double bill of psychological fear.

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While without spoiling anything for anybody who hasn’t seen this rare gem masterpiece, the film itself introduced a new type of technicolour thriller into the seventies with the European stamp of approval, But also, shows some evidence of the first elements of body horror. The murder sequences and De Palma’s continuous slow raised tension is what really drives this movie from libido driven terror sequences, and sub text that can be read as schizophrenia.[ads2]

Sisters should be watched and adorned by every horror fan – old and new.

SOME MOVIE TRIVIA

  • Brian De Palma said the film’s producer doubted anyone could be stuffed into a sofa bed, but the director recalls, “I shot it in one shot to show that you can in fact fit somebody into the sofa bed.”
  • To indicate the musical effects he wanted, Brian De Palma put together an edit of his film that was dubbed with music from the films of the composer he most wanted to hire, Bernard Herrmann. While he was showing it to Herrmann, the composer stopped him with, “Young man, I cannot watch your film while I’m listening to Marnie (1964).”
  • According to Brian De Palma, [Bernard] ‘Herrmann ‘s contribution to Sisters (1972) was a major one and he’s the master of movie music who I thought was dead and never dreamed would work on a film of mine. He’s very difficult, explosive, but always right. [Alfred] Hitchcock has suffered a lot by not working with Herrmann of late.’
  • The film was shot in eight weeks following a month of rehearsals.
  • The climatic dream sequence where a drugged Grace discovers the disturbing past of Danielle and Dominique was inspired by the surreal dream sequence from Rosemary’s Baby (1968). Brian De Palma was a big fan of the Polanski film and felt an homage was perfect for the eerie sequence in Sisters.
  • Stars Charles Durning and William Finley would appear together again in another Brian De Palma thriller: 1978’s The Fury.
  • The tracking shot of Jennifer Salt walking up to the experimental hospital was influenced by the tracking shot of Martin Balsam walking up to the Bates house in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho(1960).

 

Be sure to get your Blu-ray copy of Sisters and feel free to leave a comment below.

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