Girl's Nite Out (1982)
Directed by: Robert Deubel
Written by: Anthony N. Gurvis, Gil Spencer Jr., Joe Bolster, Kevin Kurgis
Starring: Carrick Glenn, David Holbrook, Hal Holbrook, James Carroll, Julia Montgomery, Laura Summer, Lauren-Marie Taylor, Lois Robbins, Mart McChesney, Rutanya Alda, Suzanne Barnes
GIRL’S NITE OUT (1982)
Directed by Robert Deubel
Available on Arrow Video Blu-Ray
After winning a basketball game at the last second, Dewitt University are on cloud nine leading into the night’s festivities where the sorority girls are planning to do their annual scavenger hunt. However, someone is keen to put a stop to the frivolities, decades after a young woman was murdered on campus by her jealous boyfriend. With the girls and boys of the college bedhopping, someone spies the opportunity to teach the promiscuous young women a lesson they’ll never forget.
80’s B-movie slasher GIRL’S NITE OUT, also known in the UK as The Scaremaker, isn’t that scary for a film of this genre but there’s a certain charm to it that is endearing to horror movie fans.
When the film opens up, we’re introduced to the basketball team who’s star player, the towering Pete ‘Maniac’ Krizaniac (Mart McChesney), is not playing his best due to having been dumped by his girlfriend. He’s not the only one having woman trouble. Mike Pryor’s (David Holbrook) girlfriend seems to be very much into Michael Benson (Matthew Dunn), who dons the team’s mascot costume during the basketball games. She has no qualms snogging him in front of Pryor so it’s not surprising when he kicks off with her at a party following the winning basketball match. However, it’s not just the university girls having fun with others. Teddy Ratliff (James Carroll), another basketball player for the university, also seems to try and get into the pants of other women despite being comfortable with the sweet and stable Lynn who adores him. In his mind the grass is always greener on the other side as his head gets turned by Dawn Sorenson (Suzanne Barnes) who herself has a longterm boyfriend and a rich one at that! The only person who doesn’t seem to be bedswapping is nerd Ralph Bostwick (John Didrichsen) who seems just happy to not go to the party alone.
All this lust, jealousy and flirting raises the tension at the university with stories re-emerging about a young woman on campus who was killed by her ex-boyfriend decades earlier. The student was the daughter of the current campus security officer, Jim MacVey (Hal Holbrook). Unfortunately, old wounds will be reopened this night as the university plays host to murder once again.
Despite the promiscuity of all the students, regardless of gender, this particular killer seems to have it in for the female students and only ever kills male ones if they get in the way. Uttering derogatory slurs as it slashes the throats of its victims, the killer stalks and slices its prey disguised as the Dewitt University’s bear mascot (complete with tight grey perm!). Whoever is inside the costume has cleverly taped four blades together which they’ve inserted into the paw of the costume, ready to maul any teenage girl, loose or not, who may cross their path. With the girls taking part in the night-time scavenger hunt, where they tune into the campus radio to receive clues about hidden objects they need to find to win a prize, they’re often isolated and alone in the dark, making the perfect opportunity for the bear to pounce.
The kill scenes themselves aren’t gory or scary compared to other slashers of the era, but there’s something creepy when a student comes across the body of their school friend. POV shots of the bear watching their prey ramps up the tension and fear as it’s not case of if the killer will strike, but when.
Despite being a slasher movie, the film is laced with humour too, particularly with the characters of nerdy Bostwick, two best mates who can’t stop doing funny voices and even Teddy who likes to flirt and try his luck with every lass he meets. Another humorous aspect of the film is the songs which feature. I’m assuming they could only afford or only had the rights to play a couple, as we hear “Yummy Yummy Yummy” by Ohio Express and “Summer In The City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful at least twice each throughout the film. That itself began to tickle my funny bone.
Looking at the movie as a whole, GIRL’S NITE OUT leaves a lot to be desired but, without a doubt, there’s elements that work that could be more effective if honed. The bear mascot as the killer costume is quite unique and makes the film stand apart from the rest. Unfortunately, the film has such a loose feel to it that its impact, in all areas, is lessened that it goes out with a whimper rather than a scream. I’d have liked to have seen more gore and the fear factor turned up somewhat. The abundance of characters involved also got a little too much. At one point as I was losing track of who’s who, especially when we get to the scavenger hunt as most of it is shot in darkness. A tighter bunch of characters would’ve helped to keep the focus, especially on a sprawling campus location which I must say is a pretty effective setting for a horror!
Whilst it might not be a major slasher highlight of a film fan’s collection, GIRL’S NITE OUT retains some merit that deserves to be seen.
In Arrow’s Blu-Ray release, they’ve took the best quality footage they could from the prints available to have what we see here. The visual is clear enough but retains the lines and blemishes of a film of this age which help to give it that raw feel reminiscent of watching on video. I’ve personally never been a fan of films looking overly polished, especially horrors such as this, so was happy enough with the print that is on offer.
The disc itself is loaded with extras, mainly new video interviews with the actors involved in the film, including Julia Montgomery, Lauren-Marie Taylor and John Didrichsen (who met on the film and subsequently got married!), Laura Summer, Lois Robbins, and Paul Christie. There’s also an archival interview with Julia Montgomery and trailers to the film. Genre film critic and author Justin Kerswell, and film historian and author Amanda Reyes provide insight into the movie in the Blu-Ray’s audio commentary.