Tuesday, November 15, 2016

GIRLS NITE OUT (1982) (DVD Review)


Label: Guilty Pleasures 

Rating: R
Region Code: 1 NTSC 
Duration: 96 Minutes 
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0 
Director: Robert Deubel
Cast: Julia Montgomery, James Carroll, Hal Holbrook, Suzanne Barnes, Rutanya Alda, David Halbrook

Girls Night Out (1982) also known as The Scaremaker opens creepily at the Weston Hill Sanitarium where inmate Dickie Kavanaugh hangs himself. Afterward a pair of knuckleheaded gravediggers are digging his grave in the dark of the night hen they are killed by someone with a shovel who then hides their bodies in the plot. Afterward a killer wearing a team mascot bear costume with a claws made of serrated knives stalks college teens during a campus wide scavenger hunt at nearby Dewitt College.

Turns out that Dicky Kavanaugh had been committed to Weston Hills twenty years earlier after having murdered the daughter of the chief of campus security named, a guy named Mac played by actor Hal Holbrook (Creepshow) who is seriously slumming it in this slice of z-grade slasher, surely only appearing to support his son who was cast in the movie as a tubby and frustrated student with a bad temper named David Prior. Prior's girlfriend Sheila dumps him at a school costume party after a victorious basketball game, dumping him for the school mascot, a nice guy named Benson. Prior leaves the party in a bit of a  rage shouting “You’re all whores!... I won’t forget this!"... what an asshole.

Not long afterward someone stabs Benson to death and makes of with his bear mascot costume, whispering "Sorry, but I need this more than you do". The killer then fashions a set of killer-claws from serrated steak knives which he slips into the paw of the bear costume. Afterward the killer in the bear costume begins killing off co-eds one by one during a campus scavenger hunt hosted by the campus radio station, with a disco-era looking DJ who wears a lot of shiny satin clothes and spins old time rock and roll tunes throughout the night. The DJ Chimes in throughout the night offering a new riddle to the whereabouts of the the next item to be sought - which sends co-eds to all ends of campus in search of the coveted objects. However, the killer is also listening to the radio and arrives at each of the locations to kill the first person to arrive, usually a young woman.  After each kill the murderer calls into show to announce each kill cryptically, not unlike like in the movie New Year's Evil (1980). 

Eventually The DJ gets weirded-out by the creepily cryptic phone calls and calls Mac the campus security guard to let him know what's happening, and soon enough the killer calls Mac and says that he is Dickie Kavanaugh and he's out for revenge. The incensed Mac calls the Weston Hill Sanitarium and is informed that it cannot be Dickie because he died several days ago. In true detective fashion Mac is reading through an old stack of newspapers for clues, at one point doodling onto an image of someone from which draws his suspicion of who the killer might be. Noteworthy is that Holbrook appears to have only showed up on set for a day of filming and most of his scenes are not shared with anyone, they're edited to appear as though he does, thought the end result is not exactly seamless, with the actor only sharing screen time with other actors in only a few shots. 

When the killer strikes he usually hiss the words "bitch, slut, pay a price you whore", whoever they are they certainly have some pent-up anger towards women. The killer seems to prefer throat slashes with those cool serrated claws but they aren’t opposed to a traditional stabbings from time to time.

The amount of characters is this one is a bit of a head-spinner, in fact there's no final girl per se, which is sort of weird for an early 80s slasher movie. There are way too many faces but they're a fun assortment who are more likable than the usual 80s slasher offered, which also sets it apart from the usual 80s stalk and slash movies. We have a couple of stoned dorks who love to joke around, a pair somewhat homo-erotic jocks who hang around shirtless a bit too much for straight guys, and kinky girls looking to get laid which again is a bit of a deviation from the norm. Aside from the familiar face of Hal Holbrook the movie also stars Julia Montgomery who will forever be remembered as nerd-obsession Betty Childs from The Revenge of the Nerds (1984), as well as the 80s comedy Up the Creek (1984) and the horror under-seen 80s horror gem The Kindred (1987)

The movie has a surprisingly cool soundtrack stuffed with oldies from The Lovin' Spoonful, 1910 Fruitgum Co, I can only assume that the producer’s must have had some nice connections in the music industry to score them - and could perhaps be a reason the movie has not arrived on Blu-ray et, sometimes those music rights are the hardest part of a movie to clear,. . 

The movie struggles with a weird tonal duality, at times it has a fun Porky’s sort of teen sex-comedy feel with loads of horny teen shenanigans but it also has a weird dark side which borders on sleazy and sorta cheesy at the same time, which not unlike the killer the movie is a bit schizoid, it doesn't feel like the director has a good idea of what sort of movie he wanted to make at the time, his name was Robert Deubel and he only directed a handful of movies, none of which I've watched. As for the kills they are kind of brutal but not very gory, with plenty of blood but they're obscured by the furry paws of the killer bear costume. The movie also suffers a bit because there's a definite lack of tension, the movie doesn’t really offer much in the way of suspense, but as a lover of goofy 80s slasher schlock I think this is a blast. 

The movie comes to a weird close when the killer abducts the side chick of one of the nice jocks who runs after her, tracking the killer to the cafeteria kitchen at the campus student union where all is revealed in a jarring and off-beat finale that stands apart from the rest of the movie with a bizarre shocker of an identity crisis infused finale. I found this to be a ton of fun even if it zips up a bit too fast for my tastes. This is definitely a movie full of what the WTF-ery and some goofy 80s awesomeness, but it is not a great slasher movie, just a weird one with a notable killer that stands apart from the rest of the pack. 

The movie is long overdue for a HD upgrade, I would love to see a distributor like Arrow Video, Vinegar Syndrome or Scream Factory pick this up and give it an upgrade with some cool extras, if just to see some new artwork with the killer-bear on the cover.  The way I see it is that if schlock like Evils of the Night (1985), Blood Rage (1987) and The Mutilator (1984) are Blu-ray worthy then I can only assume this won't be far behind.