Teenage Jenny Williams (Linda Carol) is in deep trouble when her outlaw boyfriend involves her in one of his criminal getaways, and now she is being sent to reform school. She arrives in the bus with a collection of her fellow delinquents, including Lisa (Sherri Stoner) who is only there because she kept running away from home and clutches a toy bunny for comfort. But Jenny is made of sterner stuff, and doesn't wish to be pushed around, yet after the girls are disinfected and given their prison uniforms she is sent to her dorm and it hits her what she has now gotten into...
There were about a billion women in prison movies during the seventies, but writer and director Tom DeSimone, an ex-porn director who had followed similar territory with The Concrete Jungle at the beginning of the eighties, apparently thought there was room for one more. Only this time, he made a spoof, or that's the reputation the film has at any rate, but how funny is it? Reform School Grils sticks very closely to the template that had been set in stone the previous decade, and not much of it will have you laughing out loud.
In fact, there's a lot of the routine in this movie, so if you've seen a W.I.P. effort before you'll know pretty much what you'll get with this one. Notable amongst the inmates is Plasmatics singer Wendy O. Williams as Charlie, notable because not only was she not a teenager when she appeared in this, but she was thirty-six years old and looked older. Suspension of disbelief isn't entirely necessary however, and Williams throws herself into the bad girl role, dressing as the others do in lingerie to lounge around on their bunks in, and snapping off anyone's head when talked to.
Charlie isn't the only volatile one, as these inmates riot at the drop of a hat - you can almost set your watch by the frequent uproar that occurs regularly throughout. The prison is split into the goodies and baddies, with the girls on Jenny's side our heroines, and the ones on Charlie's side the villains. This is because Charlie and company have the backing of evil matron Edna (Pat Ast), a scenery-chewing performance of evil if ever there was one. Edna rules with an iron fist, all with the permission of warden Sutter (Sybil Danning dressed like a officer in the S.S.).
But not all the authority figures are bad, as the resident psychologist Dr Norton (Charlotte McGinnis) is an understanding liberal keen on reforms. However her style is overwhelmed by the oppressive nature of the guards, and Jenny suffers indignity after indignity in her attempts to receive reasonable treatment. Some of this is obviously meant to be over the top camp, such as Edna stomping the pet kitten that Lisa secretly keeps when her toy bunny is destroyed, and it's all amusing enough, but that uncertainty over how far to go for laughs, or simply to turn this into a by the numbers prison thriller, sabotages the film somewhat. It also can be noted that Stoner ended up being the model for Disney's Little Mermaid and Belle from Beauty and the Beast, so if you want to see her cracking up then this is the film for you. Music by Dan Seigel.