Picks and Pans Review: Reform School Girls

UPDATED 09/15/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 09/15/1986 at 01:00 AM EDT

This B flick about babes behind bars, directed by Tom DeSimone, was inspired—if that's the word—by such cult favorites as The Concrete Jungle and Chained Heat. Indeed DeSimone was responsible for The Concrete Jungle and the similar Prison Girls. This film could have been fun, and it does start out sassy enough. At the Pridemore Juvenile Facilities, the monster matron (played by the buxom Andy Warhol star Pat Ast) munches on chocolates and checks out her newest novitiates. "My name's Edna, but the girls just call me Eddie," she sneers. The rest of the movie never becomes the we're-bustin'-out-of-this-genre send-up you want it to be. Instead it gets bogged down in gross-out bathroom humor. And not many people are going to get laughs out of a scene that centers on stomping a kitten to death. The dialogue has its camp hoots—"Your time's just been doubled, sweetie"..."Yeah, and so's your chin!" And it's almost nostalgic to see those prison stereotypes, such as the ice witch of a warden (Sybil Danning, who has played so many similar roles straight in these low-life films that she's rivaling Linda Blair as Queen of the Junkpile). But the film's one true inspiration is to cast nihilist rocker Wendy O. Williams as the foulmouthed cellblock leader. Playing what must be the eldest juvenile offender on record, Williams emotes by gnashing her teeth, flexing her tattooed biceps and bulging out of her underwear. When she turns Terminatrix and goes on a demolition derby rampage inside the reformatory, the film heats up. Unfortunately it also ends. This is the kind of movie you'll want to leave before the lights come up. You're as likely to want to bother with its credits as you are with those of roller derby reruns. (R)

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