Girls Nite Out
The next time you go to a Fancy Dress Party.... check who's going with you.
Year of Release: 1982
Also Known As: The Scaremaker
Running Time: 96 minutes (1:36)
Director: Robert Deubel
Julia Montgomery ... Lynn Connors
James Carroll ... Teddy Ratliff
Suzanne Barnes ... Dawn Sorenson
Lauren-Marie Taylor ... Sheila Robinson
Mathew Dunn ... Michael Benson
David Holbrook ... Mike Pryor
Laura Summer ... Jane
Carrick Glenn ... Kathy
Mart McChesney ... Pete 'Maniac' Krizaniac
Lois Robbins ... Leslie Peterson
John Didrichsen ... Ralph Bostwick
Rutanya Alda ... Barney
A scavenger hunt game is planned one night for the Dewitt University sorority. The game takes the girls from graveyards to belfries and from beds to bathtubs. The terror begins as one by one, each girl is mysteriously murdered by a sadistic maniac.
After each killing, the murderer telephones the local radio station and recites a clue to the disc jockey about the evil things he is doing to each girl.
The suspense and tension mounts as the sinister clues are deftly pieced together by ex-cop Mac McVey, in a truly original surprise ending, the sadistic killer is cleverly trapped in his own game.
Girls Nite Out, remindin' us that nothin' melts a scorned woman's butter like a good Dutch ovening.
An speakin' of things that'll make your head hurt - normally I'm about as intellectual a guy as you'll ever meet, but after last night's poker game I may hafta hang up my id for good cause I don't think I'll ever understand women. Most women I mean, Sadie Bonebreak I understand perfectly; walk up behind 'er in the bowlin' alley an slap 'er on the hinder, she chokeslams you through the air hockey table - that's what I like about 'er, you always know where ya stand... or lay... gasping for air. I can even understand Sadie's attraction towards 'er basket case of a girlfriend, cause at its core it's the same faulty reasoning that winds up costin' ya 30% of your take-home in back child support after your brain tells ya what a great idea it'd be to go home with that Starla gal you just met after six pitchers of Pole Cat beer. As for Sadie's other half though (or Mrs. Sadie as we've taken to callin' er ever since they decided to exercise their right to marry an be just as miserable as us straight people), she's nuttier'n the underside of Cleave Furguson's couch cushions, an I ain't just sayin' that cause of how she whines about the way Sadie looks at the Queen of Spades in our nudie deck, or how she asks to see a movie about bunnies an gets P.O.'d when ya put Night of the Lepus on. Lemme just set the scene for ya an you tell me whether this's normal adult behavior: it's me, Sadie, Billy Hilliard, Tetnis, an Duke Tankersley hangin' out eatin' deep fried heavily-salted snacks, arguin' about which final gal from the Friday the 13th series was the hottest (as you prolly already know, it was Melanie Kinnaman from Part V, but you know how dense some people can be about this kinda thing), an like usual Sadie's takin' all our money.
Now, I'm tryin' to be a good host even though Mrs. Sadie's makin' noises like somebody just turned the shut off valve on the air compressor at Fred's Retreads cause she's hated poker ever since Billy bluffed 'er outta $5 the one time we let 'er play with us - as I recall, it was "dishonest" an he was a "buttwad" for doin' that. Anyway, like I said, I aim to please, so when she said she wanted to watch a "love story" I sat out a hand an fished Frankenhooker outta the closet for 'er, but there's just no pleasin' some people, an by the time Zorro the Pimp explains that his woman just blew up on 'im, ole cranky crotch gets up an heads to the can without so much as a giggle. Well, needless to say, time flies when you're havin' fun, an with her gone the game actually got that way for the first time that evenin' - so much so that it was about an hour'n a half before we realized she'd never come back, an when Tetnis went to check on 'er he found the crapper slowly overflowin' (I think she tried turnin' the valve off but couldn't quite get it) an the window wide open. That ain't the half of it though, cause we've been in the middle of a nasty cold snap the last week or so, an it was about -20 outside at the time, so before Tetnis can fully assess the situation he instinctively goes for the valve an ends up slippin' on the quarter inch of ice that's built up on the floor in the 90 minutes since what's-'er-name pulled the ole clog an jog. Fortunately Tetnis managed to grab the sink on his way down; unfortunately, Tetnis is about 6'2", 275lbs, an he pulled that sumbitch loose like The Chief in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, so by the time the rest of us got in there to see what was goin' on there was so much liquid sprayin' around the room that it looked like the '86 Mets' locker room after Game 7 of the World Series. Come to find out later Mrs. Sadie only made it a block an a half before Juanita Hernandez found 'er buildin' an igloo in 'er tube top an picked 'er up before 'er milk shakers froze up, butcha know, even after all that I coulda prolly forgiven 'er if she hadn't tried buryin' the telltale turd in Shankles' litter box.
Chivalry prevents me from sayin' anything more, but that thing was a foot long if it was an inch - girl oughta try a bowl of Shredded Wheat once in a while. Anyhow, once we got the bathroom floor salted enough to get the ice up I suggested Sadie take 'er lumberjill for a girl's night out the next time she plans on droppin' a log that size, an after she politely suggested I munch 'er menstrual pad, that got me to thinkin' about a Girls Nite Out we could all enjoy without a lot of expensive surgery. Basically what we've got here is Friday the 13th if Sean Cunningham'd taken it to the vet to be neutered, only with more characters than a Russian novel an Hal Holbrook hangin' around actin' like Grumpy from Snow White cause he's only there to get his kid an acting gig. Truth be told this's one of those flicks that nobody gave a diddly about back in '82, but that's gettin' rediscovered ever since folks realized too late how good they had it in the '80s. As for me, I just can't say no to a flick that takes the lady who voiced Janine on The Real Ghostbusters an lashes 'er to a coupla shower faucets, so I'ma run down a few of the epiphanies I had checkin' this baby out for ya an then we'll get down to business. First, the "kill all the whores" MO loses something when not one of the alleged whores pops their top. I dunno what these girls were havin' a night out *from*, but it sure wasn't their bras. Second, when your kegger exploits reach the point where the frat brothers sing folk songs about you, even the cold-blooded murder of your ex-girlfriend doesn't warrant the removal of your photo from the frat's hall of fame. This rule also applies if you once jumped off the top of a 15' steel cage onto Don Muraco. An third, nothin' says '80s party like big hair, cheap beer, an Ohio Express.
The movie begins in the nut hut where a receptionist is gettin' bombarded with profane robo-calls til she gets up to hit the can an finds one of the patients hangin' 'imself to death cause he can't stand the way the Parkinson's causes 'im to have incurable jazz hands. Meanwhile at the nearby college campus, this R. Lee Ermey of a basketball coach is blowin' up at his pumpkin pushers an lamenting the whiteness of his district to rile 'em up enough to sink an easy lay-up at the buzzer an vanquish the hated... guys from the *other* middle-class private college a few miles down the road, I guess. Only when everybody makes it to the locker room the power forward (Maniac) hasta go throw up for a while cause he thinks his girlfriend dumped 'im for bein' fat an not because he's an alcoholic beanpole with arm veins like a package of overcooked Ramen noodles. Maniac feels a whole lot better after launchin' his cafeteria dog into the urinal, so he an his buddies (Teddy, Hagen, an Dancer) get together outside the school so Dancer can offend all the Mexicans, gays, an especially gay Mexicans in the audience with his comedy stylins until everybody decides to head over to the kegger at Brett Kavanaugh's place an play Devil's Triangle. But while that's goin' on, a coupla gravediggers who dress like cabbies from Brooklyn are about to bury the hanging choad from the quack shack, only when they're not lookin' the corpse crawls out of its S&M Ziplock bag an plays Dig Dug with their skulls. Then we head over to the house that Lori Loughlin built where this jiggler (that's a stripper who don't strip) wiggles around like she shoulda used Preparation H, while Dancer an Hagen tell a buncha Freshmen about the Legend of Letter Jacket Larry who killed his ex-girlfriend for runnin' practice drills with another guy out in the woods an ended up benched for life in the sanitarium. Unfortunately right about that time the party's mellow gets harshed when this fat dork with a ridiculous part (Brian) gets the idea that his girlfriend (Sheila) may not be completely faithful just cause she's makin' out with the team mascot right in front of 'im an he pretty much goes full incel before stompin' off to rant about 'er on 4chan, at which point our mystery guest sneaks into the mascot's room an retires his number before makin' off with his bear costume to start a sexual fetish movement. By mornin' everyone's in a big tizzy; not cause their bear's gone into permanent hibernation or anything, but cause it's the day of the big campus scavenger hunt wherein the winner scores a trip to a tropical locale where they an one of their closest friends can get hammered on fizzy drinks an be casually molested by entitled strangers.
This *sounds* like a lotta fun, but unfortunately our friend in the bear skin rug has gotten ahold of the Captain Crunch treasure map with all the hidden items' locations, an worse still - the radio DJ announcin' the clues doesn't seem to realize nobody wants to hear the hits from 1966 in 1982, so pretty quick we got Deadly Ruxpin hidin' out waitin' to ambush giggly stoner chicks so he can maul 'em to death an bloody-up their gaudy Christmas sweaters designed by the guy who programmed Frogger. Fortunately for the killer the only reason mosta these kids're even in college is cause their dads wanted 'em outta the house so's they could convert their bedrooms into man caves an watch stag films while the wife's out shopping at Montgomery Ward, so by the time Sheila realizes Grisly Adams don't wanna go bearback with 'er there's no place to run an he slashes 'er throat with some jerry-rigged kitchen knives taped to a potato masher. Course then the guy starts grandstandin' an callin' up the radio DJ an Sheriff Hal Holbrook braggin' about all the chick-nic baskets he's opened up an claimin' to be Letter Jacket Larry an Hal is P.O.'d, so Hal calls up the hospital admin to see if they're missin' any babbling schnooks an finds out that Larry is officially two thirds of a Sabu by virtue of bein' both homicidal an suicidal. Then the gal who dumped Maniac for bein' an unmotivated slug who's formed an identity around various Pink Floyd lyrics finds 'erself caught in a Care Bear snare inside the attic of an old church where she's unceremoniously squeezed to death by Chokey the Bear, until finally Betty Childs from Revenge of the Nerds (Teddy's girlfriend, Lynn) finds one of the bodies an gets word to Hal who puts an end to the scavenger hunt so there'll be somebody left to pay his social security. Next thing, the cops start interrogatin' everybody who still has a majority of their red blood cells to try figurin' out who's creatin' all the vacancies in the remedial Life Skills classes an end up havin' to put the entire campus under frat house arrest, only that don't work cause later that night this poodle-headed blonde gets thrown out of 'er boyfriend's pad for openin' up the ole cave for Teddy an pretty quick she finds 'erself bein' followed by the Tearenstain bear an hasta call Teddy for help while his girlfriend's sittin' right next to 'im on the couch. Now that you're prolly confused as all get-out an feelin' like I left out a buncha critical, need-to-know information, I really oughta put a sock in it before I spoil the endin'... even though it ain't nearly as satisfyin' as it mighta been if the writer hadn't felt the need to turn this thing into a goll durn whodunit mystery so his friends at church wouldn't shun 'im for makin' a Horror film.
Alrighty, so that probably sounded a bit disjointed, but that's only because it is - the script is distracted, primarily because they're trying to cash in on the success of Friday the 13th while simultaneously attempting to make a more socially conscious film by reducing the gore and focusing on the "whodunit" aspect, which as we all know is the act of a shyster. Admittedly the first Friday the 13th movie was a whodunit as well, but they didn't spend the first third of the movie building up red herrings like a goddamned Murder, She Wrote. There's just no gettin' around it - these guys set out to make a Thriller and threw in a little blood here and there as an afterthought for the Horror audience they were courting, and the movie really suffers for it. It actually plays a lot like New Year's Evil, except that New Year's Evil was a little less prudish with the blood and had a better plot twist. Another serious problem is the lack of a protagonist - there's just no clear point of view in any of the proceedings, I mean, it seems like Lynn is *supposed* to be the protagonist, but there's a hell of a lot of runtime that she's just not involved in, including the climax, so is the protagonist actually Teddy? I guess you could make the argument that Hal Holbrook is the protagonist, but that's pretty desperate too since he's got maybe 10 minutes of screen time, so who the hell knows. The confused narrative also extends to the supporting cast, because even though they're little more than props to either be suspected of murder, or themselves murdered as a means of heaping suspicion onto one of the other props, several of them start out seemingly important before fading into the background entirely once they've been assigned a motivation to explain why they might be the killer (that motivation seemingly always being jealousy). The concept is simply stretched too thin, as they introduce far more characters than necessary to prop up the body count and increase the number of potential suspects, not realizing that a few gory murders can prove just as effective as a lot of boring ones, *and* leave you more time for exposition and character development if that's the route you want to go. This is why Pieces is a beloved classic, and nobody ever mentions Girls Nite Out even in a slasher discussion thread. Bottom line: they played it safe and burned themselves with a script that's not nearly fleshed out nor coherent enough to make for an interesting story and failed to include any spectacular kills as compensation.
Of course, the thing that really needs investigated is how a flick called "Girls Nite Out" features so little scandalous girl-involved behavior, but I think these puritan writers have probably suffered enough considering 3/4ths of them never worked again, so maybe we oughta cut them some slack and see if we can't find some redeeming value in here. The plot, unfortunately, is the last place you'll wanna look when seeking out redemption. In addition to all the issues mentioned above, did they ever explain why only sororities were eligible to win the scavenger hunt prize? Ya know, other than as a plot device to ensure a bunch of vulnerable women are running around after dark? Normally I don't care about this kinda thing, but if you're gonna try to be clever and write a Murder Mystery instead of a straight Slasher film, then you're gonna hafta answer for this stuff. Generally speaking though, the flick just feels like they wrote the twist ending first and worked backwards, in the sense that some of the early events feel awkward/forced in advance of an ending the writers seem very proud of. Honestly, it's an alright twist despite having been done very famously once before and less famously several times since, but working backwards can create some questionable situations when the conclusion is set in stone, if that's indeed what happened. The acting is alright, with a few decent performances balancing out some less impressive ones, but at the end of the day there's nothing here that's especially memorable that you'd be likely to tell your friends to watch out for. Hal Holbrook, Julia Montgomery (the alleged lead), and Michael Dunn (the mascot) are probably the most talented/entertaining, while David Holbrook (the incel), Mart McChesney (the recently dumped Maniac), and John Didrichsen (the proto-Lewis Skolnick from Revenge of the Nerds), just kinda make you sad. The killer, whose identity I won't spoil, is pretty good once the reveal takes place in the final two minutes, but for the most part there's a whole lotta "meh" to go around.
Here's who matters and why: Julia Montgomery (The Kindred), James Carroll (He Knows You're Alone), Rutanya Alda (Amityville Horror II, The Dark Half, Night of the Wolf, Steel, The Stuff, Christmas Evil, When a Stranger Calls, The Fury, The Terminal Man, Rosemary's Baby), Lauren-Marie Taylor (Friday the 13th Part 2, David Holbrook (Vampire's Kiss, A Return to Salem's Lot, Creepshow 2), Carrick Glenn (The Burning), Gregory Salata (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II), Tony Shultz (A Stranger is Watching), Larry Mintz (Remote Control), Richard Bright (The Ambulance, Cut and Run), Page Mosely (The Jigsaw Murders, Edge of the Axe, Open House), Hal Holbrook (The Unholy, Creepshow, The Fog, Capricorn One, Rituals). I regret to announce that a lotta these folks went into daytime soap operas and were subsequently lost to us forever, so if you're curious about the mainstream credits, here they are: Julia Montgomery (Betty Childs in Revenge of the Nerds), Rutanya Alda (Angela in The Deer Hunter, Carol Ann in Mommie Dearest), Lauren-Marie Taylor (Stacey Donovan on Loving), Laura Summer (Voiced Patamon on Digimon: Digital Monsters, and Janine Melnitz on The Real Ghostbusters), Lisa Robbins (Dr. Anne Tolan on All My Children), Richard Bright (Karl in Marathon Man, Neri in The Godfather 1 - 3), Page Mosely (Dylan Hartley on Santa Barbara), Hal Holbrook (Preston Blair in Lincoln, Old Jacob in Water for Elephants, Ron Franz in Into the Wild, Deep Throat in All the President's Men, Congressman Doyle in The Majestic, Evan Evans in Evening Shade, Oliver Lambert in The Firm, Abraham Lincoln in North and South, and he voiced Amphitryon in Disney's Hercules).
The special effects are minimal and feature only splashes of blood in situations that would likely spew a great deal more than what is shown, and the only sequence that shows said blood in any detail looks suspiciously like paint, as it's very bright and extremely thick. As the flick goes on we get a little more, and of better quality, but there are literally zero gore scenes and about half the murders happen off screen. This right here is why Girls Nite Out will never acquire the kind of cult following that flicks like Madman and even Don't Go in the Woods have built up over the years, and it thoroughly neuters the movie. The shooting locations are pretty decent, having been filmed in and around Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey, and very honestly, what little success this flick achieves on a technical level is due in no small part to the credibility gained by its access to a legitimate college campus, particularly the gym used for the opening basketball game - essentially, even if you don't believe much else about the flick, you can at least accept that it's taking place in an institute of learning, and that helps. You've also got the diner, a frat house, a library, the locker room, the opening sanitarium (which was likely the nurse's station at the college or something similar), and a few dorm rooms with a nice '80s aesthetic, so kudos to the location scouts for securing the college. The soundtrack, unfortunately, does its damnedest to tank the '80s atmosphere by constantly injecting '60s music under the guise of an "oldies weekend" being celebrated by the radio station. Admittedly, this choice by the producers allowed the movie to secure what were once popular tunes on the cheap due to their age, but it really damages the '80s aesthetic and not only prevents the flick from gaining a nostalgic following decades later, but also likely came across as pretty dated when it first debuted in 1982. As for the instrumental tracks, they're hit and miss - and range from dull, droning synth that resembles an alarm clock with a dying battery, to a fairly atmospheric score that sounds like a tinklier version of the opening credits from Chainsaw. So basically you've got a couple effective tracks and others that're little more than layered noise, but nothing nearly so unfortunate as an '80s frat party featuring Ohio Express's "Yummy Yummy Yummy." Overall, Girls Nite Out tries to be bigger than its britches and kinda falls on its face, unfortunately; too tame for Slasher fans, not smart enough for Psychological Thriller fans, and its failed hybridization doesn't satisfy anybody. If you simply must see every '80s Horror flick ever made, by all means, check it out - there are certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon, but it's not one to prioritize.