Below is a wonderful clip of 60’s starlet Tisha Sterling as one of a trio of psychotic sisters in the twisted film The Name of the Game Is Kill! (1968) directed by former actor Gunnar Hellstrom.  The movie has reached cult status due to the appearance of female impersonator T. C. Jones, who played the girls’ crazy father pretending to be their murdered mother.  In the film, Jack Lord (just before he landed Hawaii Five-0) played a Hungarian immigrant named Symcha Lipa who meets beautiful Susan Strasberg, the “normal” sister, while wandering the highways of Arizona.  Susan operates a family-owned gas station and invites him to stay with her and her sisters: child-like, spider-loving Sterling and masculine Collin Wilcox, plus dear old mom Jones.  All three sisters try to seduce and then kill Symcha.

The Name of the Game Is Kill! was beautifully filmed on location in Jerome, Arizona by Vilmos Zsigmond.  His remarkable cinematography and Stu Phillips’s haunting theme “Shadows” sung by The Electric Prunes are the film’s high points.  “Making this film was an extremely wild experience for me,” recalls Tisha.  “I have never seen the film in its entirety and would love to see it one day.  It was a really hard shoot because we had to work long hours in this weird little town called Jerome—it was not much more than a ghost town.  The temperature was close to 120 degrees and it was horrendous.  We also all hated Gunnar Hellstrom. He was mean and we all wanted to mutiny. Anyway, I thought I did pretty well in this movie.”

“I worked with Jack Lord prior to working with him on this movie,” continues Sterling.  “Jack was really weird but he was a terrific fellow.  He lived in the same building that I lived in.  He was a very serious guy.  He was always kind to me and looked after me like a father.  Jack was also a very good artist and had a lovely wife who took care of him.  Susan Strasberg was a Method actress so her technique would drive Jack crazy.  T. C. Jones played our father.  He was nice but also a bit weird.  Collin Wilcox, on the other hand, was wonderful!  We stayed friends for years after doing this movie.  She introduced me to a macrobiotic diet.  We lived close by to each other in Topanga Canyon.”



Comments: 3

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  • John Black

    THE NAME OF THE GAME IS KILL opened the day after Robert Kennedy was assassinated, which sunk it’s prospects at the box office. Very few Americans were in a mood to see a film with such a title.

    I first saw it in 1973 on TV, under the title THE FEMALE TRAP. The color was fading even then, so it must have been filmed on cheap film stock. The only prints of it today are horribly faded bootlegs which even have a seven second reel change on view. There are some film buffs who are seeking better 35MM materials, but they apparently haven’t been successful in their search. They have produced a “making of” featurette, but are still seeking a good quality print of the fllm itself. I wish them luck.

    • Thanks for sharing. Wonder who they interviewed for the Making of featurette. Believe Tisha Sterling is the only main cast member still alive.

  • John Black

    I’m not certain when the interviews were conducted. It’s possible that Colin Wilcox was still alive at that time. I wish they could have interviewed T.C. Jones!

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