Reform School Girls

Review by Shawn Harwell

Reform School Girls  (1986)
Anchor Bay Entertainment

Length:        94 mins.
Rated:          R
Format:       Anamorphic Widescreen · 1.85:1
Languages:English
Subtitles:    None
Extras:        Commentary Track
                     Trailers
                     Still Gallery
                     Biographies

Anchor Bay has taken the lead in the DVD industry in providing good discs for lesser-known movies and their recent release of "Reform School Girls" is no exception. Remember all those T & A movies you watched on HBO and Showtime in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s late at night? Well, "Reform School Girls" was probably one of those. Entirely exploitational and proud of it, the film from former porn director Tom DeSimone has its moments of pure campy fun and crazy characters with memorable lines. They may not be particularly good lines, but hey memorable is memorable.

"Reform School Girls" naturally tells the story of a group of scantily clad girls in reform school. The film begins with young (though obviously older than 18) Jennifer Williams (Linda Carol), as she plays getaway driver for her boyfriend who attempts to rob a store. Stunned at the exchanged gunfire, which her boyfriend promised would not happen, Jenny takes off in the car with her wounded boyfriend only to ram head first into another car.

The title card comes up in a ridiculous freeze frame that is almost worthy of renting this disc alone, with Jenny staring at us wide eyed and centered in the middle of the broken windshield. So anyway, Jenny is sentenced to reform school and it takes less than ten minutes for her and a paddy wagon full of other girls to be in the school and naked in the shower. I know what you’re thinking, it took them ten minutes?!? After being stripped and sprayed with disinfectant, Jenny and the other new fish are taken to their bunks. Jenny has become attached (no, not that way) to one of the new girls Lisa, who is extremely shy and not exactly right in the head.

When Lisa heads to her bunk, she finds someone is already there – the notorious Charlie, (Wendy O. Williams) the toughest girl on the block. Jenny stubbornly tries to stand up for Lisa, which immediately puts her at odds with Charlie and her gang. The real threat of reform school, however, is the huge and nasty Edna (Pat Ast), a warden of sorts, who rather enjoys being called Eddie and being as mean and unfair as possible. The only help the girls have on the inside is the guidance counselor, who does her best to be kind and provide a sanctuary for the girls. That’s pretty much all you truly need to know about "Reform School Girls". Jenny, Lisa, and the other girls on their side do what the can to keep Charlie and her gang off their backs, while they all try to get the best of Eddie and the pigs that have put them in lockdown. Shockingly, there’s no more nudity after the first ten minutes! Yeah, right. Catfights and panties aplenty, "Reform School Girls" is a classic B movie.

Anchor Bay has done a really nice job with the video transfer for this film. Presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), the film looks pretty darn good considering the shoe string budget it was obviously shot on and the fact that I’m quite certain there’s no large movement trying to get AMC to do a complete restoration of this beloved classic. The colors look quite good here without any noticeable bleed, in particular a scene where some of the girls are outside in the daylight doing field work, though most of the film takes place in the dark bluish prison. The transfer is free of digital artifacts, and aside from a grainy opening, the print looks remarkably sharp. Dust, dirt, tears, and scratches are all but non-existent here. Nice work on such a small film.

Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono and sounds okay, though obviously isn’t a bombastic experience. Dialogue is clean and clear, and the score comes through without distorting. Nothing to knock your socks off here, but then again does it really matter with this film? You’ll still enjoy it completely if the movie’s up your alley.

In the special features section, Anchor Bay has given us a running commentary with writer/director Tom DeSimone and humorist Martin Lewis. I’ll be honest when I say I have not the slightest idea who Lewis is, but the track is surprisingly informative. DeSimone is well spoken of, explaining how he had to fight to keep the guidance counselor a female role, despite the fact that we do not see her breasts in the film. And then this British Lewis comes in with nice timing after such informative speech, to ask DeSimone about his experience making the world’s first gay adult film in 3-D. The two feed off each other well and create a very amusing commentary that I would recommend more than listening to the actual film itself! Also on board here are two theatrical trailers for the film and a nice sized still gallery. To round the disc off, we have a bio for director DeSimone.

If you like these kind of movies enough to buy them on DVD, boy are you going to be pleased with what Anchor Bay has done for "Reform School Girls". It’s not for everyone by all means, but it’s an entertaining bit of B movie exploitation that is given more than proper treatment in this DVD.

This title is scheduled for release on 3/13/2001
For more information on this title, please click here.
    

April 27, 2001

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