Monday, May 24, 2010

Reform School Girls (1986)

Reviewed By: Billy

I remember how I felt in the first few moments after my initial viewing of Savage Streets; it was as though I’d just discovered life on another planet. Everything about it – the ridiculous plot, the horrifying costumes, the sight of a topless Linda Blair lounging in the bathtub – was just so new and wonderful that I knew my life of viewing movies would never be the same.

Well, folks – if Savage Streets gave me a glimpse of life on another planet…then Reform School Girls is like finding a peephole into a new dimension. This exciting, magical place includes 40-something-year-old women starring as “juveniles” in a reform school that appears to be set up in a deserted nuclear factory, and the butchest lesbian guards you’ve ever seen bossing them around and barking classy dialogue including, “You’re gonna be inspected inside and out…so get it clean!” It’s a place so perfect, so rapturous, that even Sybil Danning as the warden isn’t the best part. Because people, we’ve got this…
Oh, jeez...where to even start?

Well, first of all a huge thanks to our newest best friend, Tower Farm reader Scott, who suggested this movie. Scott is basically the most wonderful person on the planet for asking us to see this movie, which is kind of like Savage Streets mixed with Chained Heat – in other words, it’s a WIP (women in prison) film in which we’re supposed to believe the women are rebellious teenage girls. This requires a suspension of disbelief greater than accepting the elderly Sharon Stone as a sexpot in Basic Instinct 2, mainly because the lead “bad girl” of the reform school is played by rock star Wendy O. Williams (rock singer of The Plasmatics), who a quick Internet search reveals was 37 when this movie came out. My friends, here’s a glimpse of what 37 years of HARD living looks like:
Wendy stars as Charlie, whose “special” relationship with the earlier-pictured head matron Edna has her ruling the dorm and tormenting the other girls. I’ll let the image of Charlie and Edna in the midst of their “special” relationship sink in for a moment.

Anyway, new girl Jenny – played by Linda Carol – arrives on the scene and immediately begins challenging Edna and Charlie, which means we get lots of insanely choreographed girlfights, insults including “You butthole sisters better wash your things real good…cause we don’t want none of your crotch rot in our dorm,” as well as an honest-to-God ass-branding scene. On Jenny’s side is kindly new Dr. Norton, played by Charlotte McGinnis with such an inappropriate earnestness that I’m certain she was accidentally given the script for Norma Rae instead of this movie:
Soon Doc Norton is threatening to report the school’s inhumane conditions to the “Youth Authority Commission” – whatever that is – which doesn’t sit well with warden Sutter and head matron Edna. Sutter, of course, is played by the incomparable Sybil Danning, who for some reason is costumed in a black military jumpsuit and brandishes a riding crop. While Sybil’s…ahem…acting is generally the high point of any movie she’s in, here she unfortunately falls under the very generous shadow of Pat Ast as Edna. Pat is…well…umm…okay, there’s just no good way to describe this performance. To say Pat Ast is a force of nature is like saying a hurricane makes for a bad hair day. Looking a hell of a lot like Newman from “Seinfeld” in a bad red wig, Ast bellows her way through each and every scene as through she’s performing on the field at the Super Bowl without a microphone. Dialogue like “Just don’t stand there…bring me something’ to wipe my shoe,” coming from the lips of Pat Ast after she’s stomped a little kitten to death is the stuff of Tower Farm dreams.
It would take way more time and patience than I have to go through every wonderful character and performance in this movie, but suffice it to say the reform school is full of memorable girls who deliver their insane dialogue with gusto. There’s also, of course, several shower scenes which fully showcase the expected 80s T&A – and even one very awkward sex scene with this hunk, who we’re supposed to believe Jenny falls for on first sight:
Of course, we all know where this is going…if you’ve ever seen a WIP film, you know there’s gonna be a final riot and the evil lesbian guards are gonna get theirs. In this case, the amazing finale brings us Edna climbing up the prison watchtower while firing off a shotgun and cackling like the Wicked Witch of the West. During this sequence, Wendy O. also happens to be shot right through the boob, but still retains the energy hijack the prison bus, climb on top of it while it’s still speeding along (by itself?), and scream “Burn, you bitch, burn!” before crashing it into the watchtower and causing a massive explosion.
Freakin’ brilliant.

Clearly Reform School Girls is a pinnacle of filmmaking – an achievement in many ways still unmatched to this day. What makes it all the more amazing is that it was directed with style and a huge sense of humor by Tom DeSimone, who also directed the style-less and completely-devoid-of-humor Hell Night. Of course, he was also apparently a prolific porn director, so I guess doing this movie was a little more his speed. Anyway, if you’ve never seen this movie, you must. And Scott, we owe you. BIG time.


PS: Here's a little Wendy O. to get you primed for the movie!  Ah, the days of great theme songs...


  1. I want this movie so badly! Today is Sybil Danning's birthday, by the way.


  2. Oh man, I love this movie! Great write up.

    Oddly, I didn't even know it was Sybil's birthday. I just featured her in a post.

  3. This is why I love this blog. RSG is a guilty pleasure of mine for the past 18 or so years since I first witnessed its greatness on Cinemax. I never realized it before, but she will always be cross-dressed Newman forever in my mind now. And I know this is a tad evil but I love when the immature brunette becomes Charlie's bitch! No way she was 37. Couldn't have been.

  4. I still havent seen this one somehow, but I promise I will stop being a dick and check it out!

  5. Billy! I finally got to read this and couldn't be happier. I sent it to my folks who assured me that if Pat were still alive, she'd be mighty proud for any kind of accolades, especially this! Job well done and I'm glad you liked it.

  6. Like many of you miscreants,I too discovered this flick on one of the late nite skin channels in my youth.Despite being subjected to horror and its ilk from a very young age,I was unnerved by "Girls",esp the scene where the traumatized chick takes a leap off the water tower.
    I didn't recognize the campiness of the performances,and almost spoof-like tone of the movie.Its grown into one of my fave childhood (how f'ed up is that) flix I revisit on DVD from time to time.. photoshopped Sybil-in-shower artwork and all.

    Oh,to have only been blessed with a Pat Ast commentary.Bitch rocked it as Edna.