Girls Nite Out (1984)

Author: Josh G.
Submitted by: Josh G.   Date : 2008-03-27 12:52

Directed by: Robert Deubel
Written by: Joe Bolster
Starring: Julia Montgomery, James Carroll and Hal Holbrook

Reviewed by: Josh G.

“The next time you go to a fancy dress party...check who’s going with you.” A killer is stalking women on a college campus, and the red herring list is increasing by the hour. Who wants to see them dead, and why? If there is one reason why this slasher film has gained a small amount of fame among genre fans, it’s due to the fact that the killer wears a mascot costume. But it’s not just any getup. It’s an adorable bear with curly grey hair, a dopey tongue, and wide circular eyes that make it appear as if the old grizzly has been getting into Mama bear’s crack. In a time where slasher movies were seemingly churned out every day, Girls Nite Out brought with it some originality, leaving the ordinary ‘guy in a mask’ to die, and going all the way. Was this a good idea? And how did the film as a whole turn out?

At a mental hospital, an older looking nurse receives calls from a patient’s room. She walks into his cell, only to find him hanging in the bathroom. Suicidal Dicky Cavanaugh has finally taken the plunge of death. On a college campus not too far away, a heated basketball game is roaring to its conclusion. As the ending buzzer sounds, the home team cheers over a victory that has been long awaited. In the locker room, best buddies Teddy Ratliff (James Carroll) and ‘Maniac’ Krizaniac have a personal conversation. Maniac’s girlfriend Leslie (Lois Robbins) has dumped him, leaving the poor guy heartbroken. The coach comes in, congratulating the team on their win, and mentions a scavenger hunt that will take place the next day.

At the cemetery, two men are preparing to dump Dicky’s body in a grave. However, an unknown figure bashes them in the head with a shovel, and buries them instead. On campus, a kinky sorority party is being thrown. Teddy’s girlfriend, good girl Lynn (Julia Montgomery of Revenge of the Nerds) is enjoying herself, unaware that her drunk man is flirting around with other girls. In particular, Dawn Sorenson (Suzanne Barnes), whose boyfriend, Bud (Tony Shultz), is fast asleep. Sheila (Lauren-Marie Taylor of Friday the 13th Part II) and her longtime boyfriend Mike Pryor (David Holbrook, son of Hal Holbrook) have an argument, resulting in Mike flipping out and calling everybody “whores”. Mascot Michael Benson (Mathew Dunn) comforts her; the two are embraced, locking lips. Later that night, Benson is visited by an unexpected guest, and stabbed to death in the heart. The killer steals his bear costume, laughing demonically. Who will be the next to die?

The following day, Detective Mac (Hal Holbrook) confronts Pryor about the rumors going around from his outburst at the party. Mac is concerned about the situation because his daughter was murdered by her boyfriend years ago after she cheated on him. The boyfriend’s name was none other than the lunatic, Dicky Cavanaugh. Meanwhile, Teddy is flirting with Dawn at school and ends up securing a date for that evening. Bud and Lynn are completely in the dark about the affair. That night, the scavenger hunt is set, and many females who attended the party are out searching for items based on riddles given by the local radio station DJ. But somebody in Benson’s bear costume is also hunting. First Jane (Laura Summer). Then Kathy (Carrick Glenn). And soon, each murder is reported to the radio station by the killer themself. Is Pryor taking out his anger on the ladies? Or has Dicky returned from the dead? No one is safe, on this Girls Nite Out.

The depressing thing about this stalk-n-slash piece is that the ‘killer in a bear costume’ is about the only originality Nite has going for it. The mascot looks a bit unthreatening, but there is an innocence about it that, when mixed with a psychotic killer, is pretty creepy. The comedic relief is pretty pathetic. It falls flat a lot of the time, or you can't quite catch what the actor is saying. There are some funny parts, but some very annoying ones too. I congratulate it for trying to be realistic, but the randomness of some individuals just doesn’t come off well on film. The other characters are likeable enough. Even Teddy, who is a scumbag cheater, and Benson, who comes off as a bit of a sleaze, are easy to enjoy with their lively personalities. Pryor, on the other hand, is somebody with whom you feel no sympathy for. His girlfriend Sheila is moving on to another guy, but his arrogance and whining make it hard to not wish him death.

The weapon of choice is a collection of four blades tied to a block. Used in a combination with the bear costume, it’s a very creative way of furthering the mascot’s identity, with the four blades acting as claws for the beast. Predating A Nightmare On Elm Street's Freddy Krueger glove, it’s a new way to off somebody for that time. Even though they are simple knives, it feels as if it’s a completely different tool. The kills don’t appear bloody at first, but there is actually quite a bit of the red stuff. Benson’s stabbing looks like a blob of red paint, but there’s a handful of it delivered. The multiple girls who are killed by being clawed in the neck bleed and bleed, dripping with crimson goop. One scene, where a victim is claimed after the killer smashes through a window, actually pours out about a bucket of blood from their wound. Another is ripped to shreds, and left to die, chained up in a shower. It’s brutal, and at times, pretty graphic.

I wonder if the budget for Girls Nite Out was spent on Hollywood star Hal Holbrook, or the piles of famous music thrown in throughout. I’m guessing the latter. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s classic “Summer in the City”, the addicting “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, “Hanky Panky”, and so many more tunes from long ago get played on the radio over and over again. It’s one soundtrack that you can hardly compete with. The picture is colorful, with red hats, pink shirts, and bright lights in dozens of shots. Slow scenes are moved along with atmosphere, and despite the silly dialogue, you don’t want to miss much. An odd thing about the final girl in this flick is that she’s nice and wholesome, but she still drinks and sleeps with her boyfriend. Lynn doesn’t end up confronting the killer, but stays locked up in her room. Teddy is more of our final boy, and he does not fit the job description at all. He’s cheating on his girlfriend and shows little respect, yet he’s allowed to be in the last scene? How does that work?

The ending is both eerie and clever, but unsatisfying. You want to know what happens to specific characters and what the last shot exactly means. On the other side, it’s an effective leave, and the performances are the best when compared to any previous acting in the film. It’s nice to see Lauren-Marie Taylor acting again, and the school girls in the feature are so giddy, you can’t not love them. The problem is that the story comes to a halt after a slew of murders are committed. Students are questioned for about five minutes, which adds to the story, but subtracts from interest. Guilty Pleasures has released this slasher on a fair DVD, and I guarantee, Girls Nite Out has never looked better. If you’re up for a good mystery with average execution, this one is a must see. Sort of ridiculous and a bit tame, Nite still keeps up with the batch of fun filled stalk films from an inventive era. Go out right now, and Rent it!

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