Die Sister, Die! (1978) Poster

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Reasonably entertaining.
Scott LeBrun13 January 2014
It's not hard to see why some viewers might mistake this for a TV movie, for it does have that sort of feel, except spruced up a little bit with mild use of gore. The story is nothing special, and in fact is pretty familiar, but it does entertain: the dialogue actually isn't bad, and the performances are definitely solid. Written by Tony Sawyer (based on a story by William Hersey) and adequately directed by Randall Hood, it doesn't exactly offer any surprises as its twists are revealed, but one could still do far worse than this.

One thing that does it make worth watching is the work by Edith Atwater ("True Grit", "Family Plot"), who's affecting as the haunted Amanda Price, who's attempted suicide as the movie opens. Amanda's younger brother Edward (Jack Ging, "High Plains Drifter", "Sssssss") hires a woman named Esther Harper (Antoinette Bower, "Prom Night", "The Evil That Men Do") to be the supposed nursemaid and companion to Amanda, but he really wants to convince Esther to let the old woman kill herself so they can split the family estate. As it happens, Esther comes to like Amanda as she gets to know her, and doesn't really want to contribute to the woman's death in any way.

Fine supporting performances by Kent Smith ("Cat People", "The Spiral Staircase") as the family doctor and Robert Emhardt ("The Intruder", "It's Alive") as the deceased patriarch (seen in flashback) are an asset, and the music score composed by Hugo Friedhofer is very good as well. Ging is appropriately smarmy and Bower does alright as the troubled accomplice. The movie's pace is acceptable and Hood manages to keep the viewer watching through the assorted twists and turns. The ending is basically satisfactory.

Worth a look if one is hungry to discover low budget obscurities from decades past.

Six out of 10.
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What a great film!
shanek-24 April 2002
It is amazing that the people behind this film haven't gone on to make many more films, they did well.

It has a good story, interesting characters, and they did a pretty convincing job of pulling it off.

It is refreshing to see characters in a film who are intelligent enough to figure out what is going on as it happens, and confronting each other with their knowledge. It seems they all have their secrets but not for long... and yet there are still some surprises at the end. I'm not talking the obvious.

Wonderfully gothic with good performances. Maybe todays horror films could learn some small lessons from this. Horror films can still work without a sexy young cast of TV stars.
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A somewhat unfairly maligned thriller
Red-Barracuda2 September 2012
A troubled old woman is saved from suicide by her brother and the family doctor. Her brother's concern is purely for show though and he hires a nurse with a shady past to 'look after' his sister, i.e. to ensure she definitely dies next time she tries to kill herself. But once the nurse begins work things change.

This psychological thriller has the definite feel of a TV movie. I can find no definitive evidence that it is but I would not be surprised in the least to discover it is one. It seems to have been promoted as a horror movie. The title is quite in-your-face and the poster art is somewhat misleading. It shows a nubile scantily dressed young woman running away from an ominous house while being terrorised by several brutish hands that reach out to grab her from crumbling walls. It combines imagery of Gothic horror with Roman Polanski's Repulsion. It's a great poster! But, it's hardly accurate in terms of describing the actual content. First and foremost, this is not a horror film. It's pretty solidly a thriller. It's about family secrets and greed within a Gothic setting. It has occasional spooky moments such as nightmarish dream sequences and secrets in the basement.

Despite some of the negativity directed at it, I found Die Sister, Die! to be perfectly enjoyable. It's well acted, including a turn from Kent Smith who starred in the classic Cat People (1942). It's just probably not going to appeal to people who get their expectations up by checking out that cool poster in advance of watching it.
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Gothic melodrama in the vein of DIABOLIQUE
capkronos31 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Really a nice little surprise we have here, despite the little attention it was given and the mediocre to bad reviews I've read pretty much everywhere.

Edith Atwater stars as Amanda Price, a troubled, depressed old spinster who's just attempted her second unsuccessful suicide ("I'm alive... Oh damn!"), but was saved in the nick of time by the family doctor (Kent Smith). It turns out that Amanda has an even worse enemy than herself to deal with as her outwardly caring sibling Edward (Jack Ging) is conspiring against her. While at a bar, Ed meets Esther (Antoinette Bower), a desperate, discredited nurse now working as a waitress because she was cheated out of a load of money after her 90-year-old sugar daddy died. Edward offers her 25,000 dollars to 'keep Amanda company' (i.e. speed along her death so he can get the inheritance) in a large mansion home full of locked cupboards and doors. Once Esther is hired on as the nurse, she starts to appreciate and enjoy the company of the eccentric Amanda, and refuses to continue conspiring against her. But by the time she has a change of heart, she discovers there's more than one skeleton hidden inside this families closet... and one is behind a cracked wall in the basement! 

The screenplay (by Tony Sawyer, from a William Hersey story) has its share of twists and turns and most of the acting (especially the amusingly self-deprecating Atwater) is good. There's also an effectively nasty flashback and a great nightmare sequence involving birds, incest, severed limbs and a decapitation. If you don't mind slower paced thrillers, you can do much worse than this one.
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Gothic psychological thriller with few horror bits.
HumanoidOfFlesh9 March 2015
Edward(Jack Ging)wants to murder his own severely depressed sister Amanda(Edith Atwater)to get his inheritance.He hires a discredited ex-nurse Esthe(Antoinette Bower)to control Amanda's suicidal tendencies.Esther doesn't want to kill the old woman, though and she is curious about the secrets held in the house including a mysterious third sister Nell."Die Sister,Die!" is relentlessly talky and rather subtle Gothic thriller from early 70's.There is pretty gruesome and grotesque nightmare sequence and two suicide attempts,though.The script is quite surprising and the acting is solid.6 basement walls out of 10.If you liked French "Diabolique" from 1955 give this one a chance.
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Passable thriller
Woodyanders9 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Conniving wealthy heel Edward Price (a deliciously smarmy portrayal by Jack Ging) hires nurse Esther Harper (a solid and credible performance by the attractive Antoinette Bower) to take care of his sickly, but mean and snippy sister Amanda (adroitly played with spot-on snarky bitchiness by Edith Atwater). However, Edward really wants Esther to help him kill Amanda so he can inherit the family fortune all for himself. Although director Randall Hood does an adequate job of crafting a brooding gloom-doom Gothic mood and makes the most out of the opulent mansion setting, both the sluggish pacing and Tony Sawyer's overly talky and uneventful script ensure that this movie is quite a heavy and rather tedious slog to sit through. Fortunately, the sound acting by the sturdy cast keeps this picture watchable: The three leads all do commendable work, with fine support from Kent Smith as kindly and concerned family physician Dr. Thorne, Robert Emhardt as domineering patriarch James Lendon Price, Rita Conde as friendly housekeeper Mrs. Gonzalez, and Peg Shirley as sneaky missing sister Nell. Moreover, there's a few decent twists and turns in the narrative along the way, plus a truly spooky dream sequence and a perfectly macabre conclusion. Both Michael Lonzo's sharp cinematography and Hugo Friedhofer's spirited shuddery score are up to speed. An acceptable time-waster.
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Tolerably Tolerable
gavin69426 January 2011
A registered nurse named Esther (Antoinette Bower) is summoned to an eerie Gothic mansion and feels a lurking menace in the place, as if it bears a terrible secret. When she meets Edward (Jack Ging), he tells her that he wants to hire her to care for his difficult, ailing sister Amanda (Edith Atwater). She does not realize his true intent.

Produced and directed by Randall Hood, who has done little else in his career. Jack Ging gets top billing in this film, with his name prominently on the cover of the DVD. Who is Jack Ging? A television actor, who also appeared in a couple early 1970s Clint Eastwood films.

The Treasure Box Collection features the film in full frame with decent video quality for the time period. No extra measure was given to spruce up the picture, and there are no features at all (not even subtitles), but for watching the film it works fine. (The film is also only 84 minutes, not the 88 that the box says.) As far as horror films go, this one is pretty light. More like a slightly tense thriller, as there is not much blood and an extremely low body count. Horror films can be successful on atmosphere rather than gore, certainly, but this one relies very heavily on an atmosphere I do not know if it can deliver.
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More Columbo than Horror
bensonmum228 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I don't care that this movie is listed as a horror on IMDb or that the video cover art features hands coming from a wall to grab a woman or that the film is included on just about every budget horror set, Die Sister, Die! has little in the way of horror to offer. There are moments of horror to be sure, but it's really more of a drama/mystery. If you're a fan of Columbo/70s style mysteries, this movie might appeal to you.

My problems with the movie have nothing to do with the way it has been incorrectly categorized over the years. Instead, I see weaknesses in the script and acting. Too much of the movie is just plain dull. Die Sister, Die! might have been much more enjoyable with a tighter script and a shorter run time. There's just too much in the way of padding for my taste. As for the acting, Antoinette Bower is dreadful in the pivotal role of the nurse. She plays the role as a woman who appears on the verge of going comatose at any minute.

The plot is standard 70s made-for-TV stuff. An older woman wants to commit suicide because of some unknown guilt. Her brother, seeking to inherit the family's fortune, would like to see her succeed. He hires a nurse to look after his sister and to make sure the next suicide attempt is the last one. The family doctor plays detective and puts the pieces together. There are some fairly entertaining twists and turns along the way, all leading to a satisfactory, if not predictable, conclusion.

Fans of 70s Movie of the Week fare should definitely check this one out.
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'Almost like an act of mercy'
Cristi_Ciopron25 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Antoinette Bower, the delicious B actress of English origin, was 40 yrs when she played 'Ester' (nicely sounding Biblical name, symbolical), a frightening nurse, the sexy widow of a senile old millionaire, in Die Sister, Die!, an already (by the time it was shot) old—fashioned shocker about family secrets, the strangeness of old puppets, revenge, traumas, family rancor, destabilizing other's mind, greed, old mysterious houses, Freudian overtones, domineering father, rivalry, jealousy, putrid souls.

The father in the movie is an 'old bitchy Brando'—type; the physician belongs to the old Olivier—type.
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An above average made for TV suspense flick
rixrex31 October 2004
Other than a mundane performance by Antoinette Bower, this made for TV suspense melodrama has a lot going for it. It's definitely a made for TV movie of the week which was so popular in the 70s, and from which many good films come. This is obvious in the way everything is shot, meaning a lot of close ups for the smaller screen and framing for the old style TV ratio - no widescreen or pan and scan here. The other giveaway is the moody music, just right and not intrusive, and done in 70s TV style. I know, I've seen many dozens of these 70s TV flicks and they have a definite pattern. Of course, most of these got foreign theatrical release, so there's a few well-placed curse words. The whole setup is such that there's not much to make for surprises but there's a nice twist at the end. I just wish that Ms Bower had used a few more expressions than her constant forlorn look. She really is able to do that as she's shown on her hundreds of TV show appearances.
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A decent film but what does the poster shown on IMDb have to do with this movie?!
MartinHafer30 April 2012
If you look at the poster currently shown on IMDb for this film, you'd think the film is about zombies and nubile creatures running about in various states of undress. Well, if that's what you're looking for, then "Die Sister, Die!" is not the film for you. Despite the poster, the film is a murder mystery--and the solution to the mystery isn't all that difficult to deduce. But, it does set a nice, spooky mood--so it is worth a look.

The film begins with a crazy old lady trying to kill herself. She is saved but the doctor (Kent Smith) talks to her brother about either committing her or getting someone to look after her and make sure this doesn't happen again. The loving brother isn't so loving and finds someone--someone he assumes will do nothing to stop the sister from killing herself next time. Then, it seems, he'll inherit the family fortune. Why he hates her and why she hates herself is something you'll soon learn in this spooky but not especially deep film. It really sets a nice mood but that is all. A bit obvious but enjoyable nonetheless.
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Forget the cover, this is a dull murder mystery.
DigitalRevenantX711 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
CAUTION: Plot spoilers present.

Rich siblings Edward & Amanda are feuding over their late father's estate. Amanda is also suicidal since she is grief-stricken over her involvement in the death of her father & the disappearance of her sister. Edward hires Esther, a former nurse who has some dark secrets of her own, in order to watch over Amanda – and to ensure that if Amanda, who has a history of suicide attempts, tries to kill herself again, that she must succeed. As Edward secretly tries to kill Amanda due to her knowledge of their family's ill fortune, Esther discovers that the pair have been responsible for the fate of their family members.

This B-grade mystery thriller was notable for being released with a lurid poster which featured a woman in red negligee being pursued by hands that come from walls around her. The reality is that the film is nothing more than an average mystery thriller with some reasonably good acting.

Director Randall Hood did not live to see his film being released – he died of cancer while the film was still in post-production & a long-running rumour has it that Clint Eastwood had stepped in to oversee the production as a favour for actor Jack Ging.

As far as mystery thrillers go, Die Sister, Die! is okay, although not good enough to warrant more than one viewing. The actors do their roles professionally – Jack Ging has some fun in his role as the sinister brother who tries to get his fortune by killing his suicidal sister – and the production values are okay. But in saying that, Die Sister, Die! has nothing to say about the thriller genre other than to use the old 'feuding siblings' plot that has been around for a while. Inexplicably, the film was remade in 2013.
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Seen on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater in 1981
kevin olzak14 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
1972's "The Companion" was among several genre titles that sat on the shelf for years before being picked up for distribution by indie outfit Cinema Shares International Distribution Organization Ltd. (that's quite a mouthful!). Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater broadcast no less than nine of their films during its last days on the air- "Web of the Spider," "Track of the Moon Beast," "Godzilla on Monster Island," "Godzilla vs. Megalon," "Godzilla vs. the Cosmic Monster," "Creature from Black Lake," "Dynasty," and "Blue Sunshine," all still rather obscure decades later. Many believe this to have been a TV-movie, but that is not so, director Randall Hood simply had some television experience and knew what to do on an obviously low budget, gathering together a cast well known for their small screen work. Scriptwise, it's strictly routine 'skeletons in the closet' stuff, with Edith Atwater ("The Body Snatcher") in the central role of Amanda Price, like Bette Davis in both "Baby Jane" and "Sweet Charlotte" (or even Agnes Moorehead in "Dear Dead Delilah"), an unmarried spinster devoted to the memory of her dead father. Jack Ging plays brother Edward Price, who hires a discredited nurse, Esther Harper (Antoinette Bower), to look after his sister, in the hope that her suicidal tendencies will reach fruition, enabling him to take over the estate. Esther discovers her charge to be sharp as a tack, not the 'mental deficient' that Edward described, and comes to regret becoming his 'partner in crime.' The entirely predictable skeletons in this closet can be found in the basement, and are thrown away two thirds of the way in, leaving very little to follow. Veteran Kent Smith does well as the concerned Dr. Thorne, but Antoinette Bower's performance is sadly lacking, making her scenes opposite the fiery Atwater fizzle rather than sizzle, blunting the film's overall impact. Producer/director Randall Hood's early death in 1976 preceded the release of his final film, his only previous feature a 1961 children's fantasy called "The Two Little Bears." It remains his modest efforts, and a mostly game cast, that make this ideal late night viewing, not the horror film promised by the criminally misleading ads for its theatrical title "Die Sister, Die!" (which totally gives the game away). "The Companion" aired twice on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater, Apr 4 1981 and Dec 18 1982.
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