Girls Nite Out (1982)

Girls Nite Out (1982)A group of college students celebrating a basketball victory are about to take part in the radio station’s annual scavenger hunt. Unbeknownst to them, a lunatic from the local asylum has escaped and kills the student who is the university’s bear mascot before stealing the costume. As the students embark on a night of fun and frolics, they fall victim one-by-one to the killer.

 

Girls Nite Out is a little known slasher from the early 80s. There’s usually a good reason for that and within fifteen minutes of this, you’ll know exactly what. Someone forgot to preview the film before release because otherwise they’d have realised just how slow and pointless the opening half an hour is. The film introduces far too many student characters in a short space of time and expects us to remember who they all are later on. In fact I’d swear a whole load of new characters were drafted in when they get involved with the scavenger hunt. Whilst I’m all for a bit of character development, this opening salvo goes on way too long. Goofing around, drinking, smoking and splitting up with each other seem to be the only things these college kids do. They’ve got relationships worse than some of the infamous soap operas.

You’d think that all of this character build-up to actually lead somewhere later in the film but you’d be wrong. With too many characters in the film, some of them get side-lined for too long. Others come into the fray who appeared to be minor players earlier on. Even with this characterisation put to the sword, you’d hope that with an abundance of drunken students staggering around campus, that the body count would be significantly high. Sadly, not even half of these characters are killed off. It just gets me as to why so much time is spent developing them all and setting them up for the chop. But hey, the party scene needs a lot of people dancing and drinking and having fun.

After what must be the longest sorority party scene on film, the killer finally starts cutting down the cast about forty minutes in when the scavenger hunt begins. Pity that no one really seems to bother with the hunt save for a couple of girls. The rest of the characters continue about their business like nothing is going on. Considering the scavenger hunt was supposed to be the big central event where everything kicked off, it’s a let-down to see how little focus there is on it. But let-downs are common in a film which runs the slasher gauntlet but fails to provide even the most miniscule amount of nudity. For an early 80s slasher, this is unusual.

Even during the second half of the film, there’s still too much goofiness surrounding the more serious slash. This isn’t meant to be a spoof so the amount of time the screenplay spends on having the characters talking wacky or doing crazy student things is just mind-blowing. The thing with Girls Nite Out is that once this silliness calms down and the film spends time on its horror elements, it’s a pretty effective shocker. It’s no Halloween for sure and it’s as derivative as hell but there are some good jumps, a few moments of tension and an atmosphere which slowly gets worse and worse as the killer strikes. Lighting is spot on and there’s some decent stalk scenes which crank up the heart a few beats.

The bear costume sounds like a daft idea for a killer but it’s actually handled fairly reasonably here, as the killer modifies the hands with knives, turning it into some sort of hairy Freddy Kruger prototype in the process! Even though these are only knives, the weapons and the manner in which they are used, seem novel and original. The costume looks comical but this is perfect material for a slasher film, adding a nice element of creepiness to proceedings. Some of the kill scenes are fairly brutal too, though not so much to do with the physical violence on display but of the misogynistic malice shown by the killer, shouting “whore, slut, bitch” as he slices his way through the cast. Don’t worry though, as the film progresses the kills get bloodier and bloodier. You’ll get little of the way of eye-pops or decapitations or even more standard axes in the head and a lot of kills do happen off-screen but those that are seen are reasonable.

Only notable cast member Hal Holbrook completely phones in his performance as the campus security guard with a link between the killer’s original spree and the current one. I guess the majority of the budget went on paying royalties to the artists whose songs are played on the radio station (there’s lots of famous ones too). The rest of the interchangeable cast fall into usual stereotypes (jocks, nerds, etc.) but they don’t follow the standard character arcs. The nice and wholesome pretty girl who looks to be getting set up as the ‘Final Girl’ doesn’t face off with the killer and spends most of the film drinking and having sex. Her boyfriend, Teddy, who could be called a ‘Final Boy’ even though that is a huge stretch, doesn’t cover himself in glory, cheating on her and being a general asshole throughout the film. But the film never plays true to form across a number of tropes and even ends abruptly, finishing on one of the most random and confusing endings to a slasher ever. After Girls Nite Out finishes, you’ll wonder whether what you had just seen was genius or incompetence. There is seemingly no resolution and the revealing of the killer is totally out of leftfield.

 

Girls Nite Out is one for the slasher purist only and even then it’s a bit of a slog to get to anything remotely genre-worthy. The novelty of the killer’s costume may be worth a shout and the pop soundtrack keeps things flowing very 80s, if nothing else. But this is sporadically entertaining and instantly forgettable.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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