“You’re just the shit stain on the panties of life.”
The 1970’s and 80’s supplied diverse titles to the WIP (Women in Prison) sub-genre, many of which aired frequently on USA’s Up All Night and Skinemax. These films typically targeted the universal male audience, satisfying their sexual fantasies. The very definition of class with a heavy dose of gender politics.
Reform School Girls is one of the more frivolous efforts in the herd but its comedic undertone transcends its silly premise – A batch of misfits join the reform school aka prison where they feel the torturous wrath of the tawdry prison gang, cantankerous guards, and wicked warden. Sybil Danning portrays the bible thumping wicked warden who sports a buttoned black jacket and riding crop as Pat Ast steps in as her dyke henchwoman, Edna, who carries out the dirty work. The leader of the prison gang is Charlie (Wendy O. Williams.) Williams Is what we like to call Butter Face. She has a rockin’ bod but her face has been forced through some harsh times and that nasty tongue wagging doesn’t help to make her any more attractive.
Alliances are made as the newcomers are abused by the other girls and the staff. It seems solitary confinement is the only way to catch a little peace. Thankfully, there’s a kind-hearted psychologist who aims to shut the school down. This woman is the only ray of hope these girls have. The ending is excessive and asinine but the explosive visuals make up for the radical chain of events.
So let’s break this down. Much to be expected from campy films, the acting is downright atrocious. Especially from Williams, the punk Queen of the Plasmatics. Her ‘gang’ which consists of Darcy DeMoss (Can’t Buy Me Love, Friday the 13th Part 6,) and Tiffany Healm (Friday the 13th Part 5) outshines Williams easily. The dialogue is perpendicular with the acting. You find yourself sinking your teeth into one corny shit sandwich. Quotes like, “You are just a shit stain on the panties of life,” followed by, “You should know, you lick them every night,” shows the film doesn’t always take itself too seriously. It’s hard to watch Williams struggle through her lines. Especially towards the end when she grunts, “See you in hell, Edna.” With all the shit flinging here, it’s still GOOD shit. Several scenes frightened people like me when I was an 8-year-old. For instance; fire hose spraying with Edna’s evil laugh, the ‘accidental’ suicide, kitten stomping, and burning of the stuffed bunny.
This film was made so men could enjoy nubile girls bouncing around half naked which reminds me, in what prison or reform school are girls allowed to frolic around in lingerie from a Victoria Secret catalogue? Not that I am complaining. Better yet, why are some of these girls still in reform school when they’re clearly 40?
Regardless of the inconsistencies, RSG has a killer soundtrack, girl fights, stabbings, shower scenes, sex scenes, and this VHS release is crisp clean. Former porn director Tom DeSimone caught me by surprise. For Danning fans, I regret to report that her screen time is limited and she remains fully clothed. Chained Heat for the win.