Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
4K UHD
International DVDs
In Theaters
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Savant
Horror DVDs
The M.O.D. Squad
Art House
HD Talk
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

Columns




Reform School Girl

List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Scott Weinberg | posted April 13, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Movie

Back in 1993 producer Debra Hill had a small degree of success with her made-for-HBO remake of Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman, so she scavenged through the endless vaults of cheeseball exploitation movies from the 1950's and hatched a plan: hire some name directors to remake these movies for cable, thereby delivering old-school salacious material … while also satirizing the goofy old morality tales.

This project resulted in a collection of ten movies, all of which premiered on cable in 1994. They were Shake, Rattle and Rock! (Allan Arkush), Reform School Girl (Jonathan Kaplan), Roadracers (Robert Rodriguez), Confessions of a Sorority Girl (Uli Edel), Motorcycle Gang (John Milius), Runaway Daughters (Joe Dante), Girls in Prison (John McNaughton), Dragstrip Girl (Mary Lambert), Jailbreakers (William Friedkin), and Cool and the Crazy (Ralph Bakshi). And having now seen more than half of the "Rebel Highway" movies, I'd assert that the filmmakers got caught up in the campiness and the titillation … and forgot all about that satirical edge that was supposed to make these versions, y'know, better than the originals.

Case in point would be Reform School Girl. Adapted from the 1957 Edward Bernds film of the same name, it tells the tale of a luscious young lass who flirts with the wrong greaser and ends up in an all-girl reform school. There she discovers that wardens are evil, that "bad girls" aren't nice, that showers are communal, and that, hey, lesbianism is pretty darn cool! Toss in a few seamy subplots about incestuous lechery, and a "track & field" finale that feels like it was hauled in from another film, and you're looking at a movie that apes the late-50's teensploitation craze without adding one single spin that could be considered clever or insightful. It's a new version with the same old stuff: horrific dialogue, telegraphed plot contrivances, characterizations that (barely) border on one-note, oh, and a few stray handfuls of nudity … just to keep you watching.

Trying to remake such atrocious movies is already a fairly questionable endeavor, but one has to wonder how a director of Jonathan Kaplan's caliber could deliver such a turgid affair. (This guy directed The Accused and Unlawful Entry, after all, but he also delivered Immediate Family and the hilariously bad Brokedown Palace.) Debra Hill's clever concept (to somehow "tweak" these cheesy old movies) resulted in a handful of remakes that pander to the same base instincts as did the original films, and a few talented filmmakers got caught up in a failed project.

Of minor (yet interesting) note is the appearance of Matt LeBlanc as a devious joyridin' greaser-boy. It's funny to see good ol' Joey with the black leather jacket as he tries to deliver what I can only assume are tough-guy lines of hard-boiled dialogue … but I was too busy giggling to catch many of his contributions. Plus he's only in the flick for maybe ten minutes, so none of you Joey Tribiani fans should feel the need to make a stampede towards the video store.

Longtime producer Debra Hill passed away earlier this year, and I felt a strong jolt of sadness when I read the news. Frequent collaborator (and long-ago girlfriend) of horror lord John Carpenter, Ms. Hill acted as a producer on films such as Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, Clue, and The Fisher King. And while I count myself among Debra Hill's many fans, I can't help but think her whole "exploitation remake" project was pretty much a dud. I've yet to see one of these remakes that's actually more entertaining than its original. The old flicks were entertaining by accident because they tried to be good. The new ones tried to be awful on purpose … and they succeeded all too well.

The DVD

Video

Full frame grunginess all the way. It's not the aspect ratio that bothers me here (this was a made-for-cable movie, after all) but the grimy and dry appearance. Then again I guess the mediocre visual style lends itself fairly well to the material...

Audio

Dolby Digital 2.0, and it's one of those movies where the dialogue's fairly quiet and then (suddenly) the music hits real LOUD!

Features

Nada, unless you're itchin' to see that "Dimension Favorites" trailer for the 54th time.

Final Thoughts

Lame gimmick, weak movie, unimpressive DVD release. Skip it.

Buy from Amazon.com

C O N T E N T

V I D E O

A U D I O

E X T R A S

R E P L A Y

A D V I C E
Skip It

E - M A I L
this review to a friend
Popular Reviews
1. A Dangerous Man
2. Love Jones: Criterion Collection
3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Paramount Presents)


Sponsored Links
Sponsored Links