GIRLS NITE OUT would’ve been a decent title for KILLER PARTY. I’m not completely sure how it applies to this one. It’s another college movie, and it focuses at least as much on male basketball players angry about their girlfriends leaving them as it does on the group of sweater-wearing girls whose idea of a nite out is to follow along with a scavenger hunt contest put on by the campus radio station for part of the movie until it gets cancelled due to murders.
This is a lower-mid-level Slasher Search find. On one hand, it’s definitely not good, and doesn’t even have any heads chopped off or eyeballs poked out or anything. On the other hand it’s watchable. It has credible enough acting and production values, including some pretty good scoring at times (possibly from library music) and a couple decent oldies on the soundtrack because of the radio station. And of course there’s a little bit of the weird shit, which is absolutely required to get through one of these.
Let’s not beat around the bush. This movie is notable mostly because of what the slasher is wearing, which is the school mascot costume. And the school mascot is some kind of horny and/or stoned bear:
It’s a useful slasher costume because it disguises the gender of the killer (SPOILER) and as goofy as it sounds it’s a good way to blend in on campus. Nobody finds the body of the actual mascot until near the end of the movie, so they just assume that’s him fucking around. And this is one of these movie colleges where EVERYBODY is pretty much always fucking around: talking in fake accents, saying in-jokes that nobody watching is in on but the characters obviously think there’s something funny about it, doing weird chants together to show how close they are. I pretty much had no idea what these people were talking about for 30% of the movie, but they obviously were having a great time. Alot of this:
Just, everybody always chugging Jack Daniels, laughing, shooting suction cup arrows, wearing goofy outfits and mugging and shit. You know, college life! So a guy going around in a drooling pothead bear costume is not at all unexpected.
Also, he or she is purist enough to stay on theme. You don’t want to see a bear holding a knife or other weapon, because real bears do not have opposing thumbs, they are not tool using animals, unless you count Smokey the Bear’s shovel. But in that case the artistic license is okay because it’s in the name of safety. This bear is NOT about safety. So the killer constructs a pretty cool steak knife ninja claw and inserts it into the bear costume glove. Attention to detail.
The background is that there’s a legend at the school of a guy named Dickey Cavanaugh who went crazy and killed a bunch of people, and is now in the asylum. This bear-costume-killer is calling the radio station and other people talking in a spooky voice and claiming to be Dickey. We don’t know if he’s escaped, it’s a ghost, it’s a copycat, a guy who happens to have the same name, or what. In the great slasher tradition there are plenty of red herrings (the jealous asshole who hits his girlfriend at the party, the guy whose nickname is “Maniac” for some reason and also he looks like Michael Bay) and then the actual solution to the mystery is pretty much out of the blue, there’s almost no way somebody could guess it. Although I guess to be fair you have more of a chance here than in FRIDAY THE 13TH.
Lending some credibility to the production is Hal Holbrook as Mack, the campus security guard. He doesn’t phone it in at all, although he does spend alot of his scenes on the phone to the police or his friend in charge of security at the mental hospital.
I couldn’t really tell where this was filmed. No offense, but Maniac’s outfit in this scene made me assume it was in Canada:
Please note that he wears that Steven Seagal jacket and 2010s hipster scarf combo just when he’s coming home after the big basketball game, not when he goes to the costume party. Also, it’s in the locker room, not at the party, that I spotted Waldo:
And that guy even looks like Rick Moranis, right? So I was getting a real Canadian vibe. Meanwhile, I was noticing that there were almost exclusively white people at the big party seen here:
But that’s a little odd when you consider the basketball game at the beginning. Look at the stands in this picture:
See, there’s obviously a healthy mix of white and black people at this school. It’s certainly weird that there’s only one black guy on their basketball team, but there’s obviously plenty of representation in the student body as a whole. Just not at this particular party.
Uh oh. Hold on a minute…
Yeah, okay, I get it. Check out the wall decor on the left. I see what’s going on here. The previous picture showed a corny anti-preppie/polo shirt propaganda poster on the wall. That’s just some joking around though. This piece of flair has a little bit harsher connotations.
But… that’s weird. IMDb says it was filmed in New Jersey. A Union state. Maybe it’s supposed to take place in the South, though? Or maybe it’s some kind of themed party decoration, but I guess I just don’t get the theme.
Anyway, regardless of the racial sensitivity of its party decorations, GIRLS NITE OUT is not very good. But it’s the kind of thing I kinda enjoy, partly because it ends on a positive note with an enjoyably wacko/stupid twist ending, and a funny moment where SPOILER Mack finds out the dead killer had a twin sister so he draws girl hair onto a newspaper photo of him to see what it would look like. I felt stupid when I went back through the movie and noticed that they actually showed a photo of Dickey Cavanaugh earlier in the movie, and it was clearly a woman in drag. I guess you gotta pay more attention to these things.
Female lead (I think, but they’re pretty interchangeable) Lynn Connors went on to play Betty in all of the REVENGE OF THE NERDS movies except part 2. But she was in part 2 in spirit, they were stuck on that island I’m sure there were some thoughts about her late at night.
Director Robert Deubel might’ve been a tourist in the low budget horror arena. His previous directorial credits were NORMAN ROCKWELL’S WORLD… AN AMERICAN DREAM (1972), THE AMERICAN WOMAN: PORTRAITS OF COURAGE (1976), and after this a 1983 episode of American Playhouse. That’s it. Of the four credited writers, only Joe Bolster has other credits. They include an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond and “special material” for the 69th Annual Academy Awards. So there’s your connection between GIRLS NITE OUT and THE ENGLISH PATIENT.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.