Monday, January 4, 2010

Definitely NOT the university I went to

This time around, as you can see from the confusing array of covers and poster art for this movie, we are back in 80's slasher territory. Do I have a fondness for this stuff? Not really. The old stalk and kill thing just became boring after 10 or more of these things. You were then utterly dependent on an inventive method of slaughter and/or a very compelling killer, as most of these turds left the ending open for a sequel. Even by the end of the 80's, everyone in their right mind had had enough of this stuff. Still, they kept making them and still do. They even remake them some times. It's enough to make a respectable fan of schlock hang his or her head and cry.

Enough of my bellyaching and let's move on to the feature at hand. Girls Nite Out (and, yes, that is the way they spell it) is one of those slasher films that zipped through the theaters on its way to a VHS release and then...obscurity. The fine people at Media Blasters, under their "Guilty Pleasures" imprint, saw it as their duty to pluck this movie from the dung heap and release it, letter-boxed no less. Given the movie sports a copyright of 1982 but was not released until 1984 speaks highly of the enthusiasm the various distributors of the day had for this movie. I'm thinking it may have been an act of mercy, or some diabolical scheme to take 4 bucks away from movie theater patrons, en masse, that got this film released. Mercy for whom, though?

We start with a mental hospital where a nurse walks in on some "resident" hanging himself. Not sure how he rigged his body to drop like that, but it gives you a little hope as people start dropping within the first three minutes. Keep that thought as you wade through a montage (what were they thinking in the 80s?) of basketball, cheerleaders and a very, very horny mascot in the silliest bear suit ever. Not cute and not ugly...just plain silly. Things to take note of: We only see one side of the "stadium". The "stadium" for this UNIVERSITY is smaller than courts in high schools with graduating classes of less than 30. The camera pretty much just shows the home team, so you have to wonder if they are playing against themselves.

On to the character set ups. We have "Maniac" who is depressed because he was dumped by a girl. There's his best buddy, Teddy, who is the basketball star (in his own opinion) of the team, and has no concept of women thinking he is a philandering jackass, which he is. There's the oversexed guy in the bear suit who goes by Benson. He is apparently banging his second cousin, who just so happens to be in a long-term relationship with Pryor, the overweight and very paranoid (but with good reason) guy everyone on the team picks on. Then there are the girls. We have Lynn, who is dating Teddy, and she is far too tolerant of his fooling around. Leslie, who is banging Benson, but is telling Pryor that his suspicions are all in his head. There is Dawn, the girl Teddy spends the bulk of this movie trying to lay. And, last but not least, Lunch Lady, no, the Student Union burger place lady by the name of Barney and she thinks Teddy is just the most wonderful little guy in the whole school.

You are introduced to other people but they are quite obviously fodder for the psycho killer or are there to provide exposition, over and over and over, so we shall not discuss them at any length.

More things you should know about this movie: Mike Pryor is played by David Holbrook. Hmm, that name seems familiar. Could he be? Might it be true? Can this person who can't even deliver a line without screaming it actually be related to Hal Holbrook? Sad truth is, yes, David is the son of Hal. But wait, that isn't the corker. I guess it was a package deal because dear old dad plays Mac, the head of campus security whose daughter was killed by the wing-nut who offed himself at the beginning of the film. To make matters worse, they actually have a scene with them together. Now, Hal has done some questionable movies in his time, but this hit new lows and it could only be a sacrifice of his time (which, according to what I could find, amounted to one day's work and his work was spliced into the film and it shows, oh baby, does it show!) that landed his kid a part in this movie. THIS movie! You gotta give respect to a man willing to throw himself into a pile of crap for his kid.

Where were we? Oh, yeah, the story.

Guy in the nuthouse kills himself. College kids are concerned with sports, a party after the big game and the big sorority scavenger hunt on the next night. We introduce the characters, both big and small, even the gruff security guy who only shares the screen with a handful of folks, but oddly enough, only one college student. Cut to the big party, which is called a 50s costume dance in one scene and only one person takes that to heart. The rest just dress up in various silly costumes. Now we get the interplay between characters that set up possible killers. Is it "Maniac" who still pines for the girl who dumped him? Is it the sweet doormat of a girlfriend of Teddy who catches him eye-raping Dawn? Is it Mark Pryor, whose girlfriend is boffing the school mascot and who screams everyone is a whore before storming out of the party? Is it the giggly "full-figured" gal who just wants to be loved? Is it the campus stoners who have cooked away their brain cells? Could it be Mac, who, after brooding those many, many years has finally had it with these slutty college kids?

Ah, but in classic slasher tradition, we get the back story about how Dickie Cavanaugh went bonkers many years ago and killed his girlfriend for cheating on him, and how they locked him away in the insane asylum. Not that any of that matters, because we saw him hanging, and then we saw two guys burying him at his twin sister's request. Unfortunately, the two guys didn't get to finish burying him because someone killed them with a shovel.

We have a killer on the loose. We have lots of tension amongst the characters. We have ample motivation for most of these people to flip out and start killing...well, ample for a slasher flick, anyways. Drop the list of possible psychos by one as Benson, he of the silly bear suit, takes a few knife thrusts to the chest. The killer swipes the suit in question, rigs up some Freddy claws using some steak knives and dons the bear suit. Insert your own puns here, like "the killer was loaded for bear" and stuff along those lines.

Put the film on auto-pilot and watch as the coeds are killed in a fairly tame assault. Stalk and kill, stalk and kill, lather, rinse, repeat. Lack of blood, lack of coed nudity and lack of fun other than seeing a person in a bear suit attack people and you have a good chunk of the running time. I'll spare you the ending, but let me just go on record as saying you really should not look at the back of the DVD case or even look at the main menu if you don't want the movie ruined for you. I know there are basically zero moments of excitement in this film, but you don't give away the ending on the case or on the menu. Shame on you, Media Blasters.

I know that after all my comments, one would think I disliked Girls Nite Out. Actually, no. Sure, it stinks, but it managed to keep me wondering, "How the hell are you gonna stretch thing out any further?" Surprise! They did! However, I do not recommend a second viewing within less than one year. You'll be wondering how you sat through it the first time.

Last thing to check out: The trailer. I'm linking it here, so I hope it stays. It is on the DVD as well. It was made when they finally released the film 2 years AFTER it was made, so they used some skanky actress who shows more skin in the trailer than you see in the entire film and try to give the film a sexy angle. Completely misleading, but worth checking out.


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