Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Endangered List (Case File #11)


Sharon Saxon (Teresa)
Fred Pinero (Antonio Sanchez)
Velia Martinez (Carmen Alvarado)
Anita Crystal (Rita Alvarado)
Ramiro Gomez Kemp (Robert Fernandez)
William Marcos (Jose Rodriguez)
Beryl Taylor (Mrs. Hernandez)
Mildred Rodesky (Marta)
Babette Sherrill (Ester)
Toni Camel (Dolores)
Joan Jacobs (Victoria)
Nora Alonzo (Emilia)
Tammy Simms (First Girl)
Michael DeBeausset (Englishman)
Mark Harris (Henchman)

Director: William Grefé
Writers: William Grefé and John Nicholas
Producers: Joseph Fink and Juan Hidalgo-Gato
Cinematography: Julio C. Chavez
Editor: Julio C. Chavez
Music: Al Jacobs

Released by Thunderbird International
Release date: December 1966
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
90 minutes

[from the pressbook]

A thinly disguised treatment of a bizarre news story that made international headlines in 1964. The film is based on testimony given during the long trial of three sisters who operated a white slave ring throughout Mexico. They were charged with the deaths of more than thirty-five young girls. The enslaved women who numbered over two thousand ranging in age from fourteen to twenty-­five were subjected by the evil sisters to a tyranny of torture and depravity. Humiliated by the man she loves, Teresa (Sharon Saxon), young and romantic, leaves town to seek a new life in the city of Tijuana. Encouraged by a help wanted item in the morning newspaper, Teresa makes her way to a secluded hacienda at the edge of town. There she falls prey to the blandishments of Rita Alvarado (Anita Crystal). Believing herself employed as a domestic, she follows the manservant Jose (Bill Marcos) to a beautifully furnished room. Instead she discovers, soon afterward, that she is being held captive in the windowless room.During the days that follow, Teresa's spirit is broken. She is beaten and starved and eventually forced by Rita and Jose to accept the attentions of many men. Teresa is surprised one evening when among the visitors to her room one turns out to be the young man whom she had loved before coming to Tijuana, but whose indecent advances she had spurned. Antonio Sanchez (Fred Pinero) is a police officer now, and apparently corrupted by the powerful influence of the three sisters. There is a dramatic scene. Antonio is enraged to find the same innocent girl who had spurned him selling her favors in a bordello. Not wanting trouble with the police, Rita hurriedly packs Teresa off to "the barn," a lonely place in the country where sick, pregnant, and rebellious girls are emprisoned pending their sale to "girl buyers" who come from afar seeking new merchandise. Scourge of the place is Marta (Mildred Rodes), a sadistic, cigar-smoking tyrant. Along with the other girls, Teresa suffers daily privations and tortures. She meets Carmen Alvarado (Velia Martinez), who gives her stern warnings against trying to escape. Soon the time arrives when it is Teresa's turn to be "sold." Teresa and another girl are taken to the ranch house where Carmen exhibits them to a "girl buyer." While the man is inspecting them, the other girl cracks him over the head with an empty wine bottle. For this, the girls are whisked away. That night they are made to dig their own graves while Carmen watches. But the other girl makes her escape. She is run down with a truck, tossed in the open grave, and burned with gasoline. Teresa is returned to the barn. She is stripped and bound with barbed wire and left to die. The girls revolt. One of the guards is killed. Teresa makes her escape, but she is pursued by Carmen's chief executioner: After a long chase, she is caught in a swamp, turns in desperation and shoots the man. Teresa makes good her escape, reaches a small settlement. There she tells her story to the police. They immediately investigate. A fierce gun battle ensues. When Carmen's accomplices are slain, she escapes to the barn. She is overpowered by the girls, threatens then pleads with them, but is beaten to death before the police can reach her.

[The following is taken from Boxoffice, Bookin Guide, 12/12/1966, p.3080]

Humiliated by the man she loves, Sharon Saxon seeks a new life in the city of Tijuana. Falling prey to blandishments of Anita Crystal, she finds herself in a secluded hacienda at the edge of town, now a captive in a windowless room. She is beaten and starved, eventually forced to accept attentions of many men. After a corrupt police officer, Fred Pinero, turns out to be the man Sharon has been pining over, Anita hurriedly packs the girl off to "the barn," a lonely country place where sick, pregnant and rebellious girls are imprisoned pending sale to "girl buyers" from other locales. Condemned to death after a fellow prisoner is run down with a truck, tossed in an open grave and burned with gasoline, Sharon escapes to a small settlement, where she alerts the police.

Fast-stepping, Miami-based Thunderbird International has a "sleeper" motion picture of the first order in this no-holds-barred, dramatically realistic study of modern-day white slavery operations, loosely based on a bizarre news story that made international headlines in 1964. The Joseph Fink-Juan Hidalgo-Gato production, directed with swift and sure touches by William Grefé, from a John Nicholas-Grefé shooting script, stars Sharon Saxon as a young woman humiliated by the man she loves, making her uncertain way to Tijuana and subsequent involvement in a vast white slavery operation, the adventure climaxed by abrupt rebellion on the part of fellow "captive" girls and apprehension of the higher-ups by the arriving police. Significantly, the Nicholas-Grefé screenplay doesn't dawdle; it hits hard at the central storyline, giving their narrative a documentary-like flavor, and director Grefé has captured the merciless, devastating forcefulness of depraved ring kingpins, among them Mildred Rodes and Velia Martinez, in ruling the lives of girls falling prey to blandishments of Anita Crystal, initial Tijuana "contact" for wayward women seeking roots in life. Grefé's previous credits include "Racing Fever" and "Sting of Death."

Use teaser ads run-of-paper for several weeks ahead of opening. Use spot announcements on radio and television. Set up a lobby display with recent headlines on similar case studies.

They corrupted the Sweetest Sin Known to Man! . . . .A True Story – Torn From Today's Headlines! . . . Daring! Incredible! True! Take From True Life! The People Are Real! The Treatment Inhuman! … A True Story For Mature Viewers!

Grefé says
The distributor of STING OF DEATH and DEATH CURSE OF TARTU liked that package so much that he wanted me to do another film, and that's how THE DEVIL'S SISTERS came about. I based it on a true story that happened in Mexico, where these two sisters would go out into the rural areas and advertise for maids. They'd lure these young girls to Mexico City, then force them into prostitution and keep them as slaves. They killed over 150 girls and buried them on a ranch outside of Mexico City. We shot the whole film in Davie, Florida.

THE DEVIL'S SISTERS was re-released by Trans-International Films in 1968 as SISTERS OF THE DEVIL, as a K. Gordon Murray presentation

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Coming this fall from Ballyoo!

BEWARE! 'THE DEVIL'S SISTERS' WILL BE INVADING YOUR HOME THIS FALL! The long lost feature film from director William Grefé will finally be released this Fall on DVD, from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures and Film Artists, Inc! This exclusive DVD includes a storyboard reconstruction of the lost ending, a 'making-of' featurette, an audio commentary, and more! Ordering information will be available soon!