Monday, July 20, 2009

Girls Nite Out (1984)

Reviewed By: Billy

I love movies that have misspellings right in the title. I remember seeing ads for the Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness awhile back and wondering what exactly the filmmakers were trying to achieve; I’m sure there’s a good reason for spelling “happiness” that way…but now every time someone goes to do a Google search for the movie and spells the word correctly, they’re going to come up with a million other things. (This, of course, is still a step above naming your movie something that NOBODY can pronounce, like Gigli).

To that end we get Girls Nite Out, an early-80s slasher that really presents no good reason for replacing the “g” and “h” with an “e” at the end of the word. All I know is that searching online for this one was a mess, because I kept spelling “night” the right way.

Anyway, maybe the few extra letters were just too expensive to type into the credits-machine, because Girls Nite Out is cheap with a capital NO BUDGET (just like we like ‘em). The opening score sounds exactly like a “Scary Sounds of Halloween” tape that JM and I used to obsessively play every year – the kind you can pick up for less than a buck at Walgreens. Said opening takes place in a sanitarium that apparently can’t afford lights of its own, as a poor nurse goes walking through dark, deserted halls until she comes across one of the inmates hanging from the ceiling.

Next we cut to the campus of Dewitt University. Yes, friends…it’s called Dewitt University. As in Do It. Apparently Do It University is the kind of place you go when you’ve been out of school for several years and decide it’s time to go back to get that elusive degree, because the Dewitt Bears basketball team is looking a little geriatric. When we first meet them, they’re involved in a slow-paced basketball game; each of these guys appears to be at least pushing 30, not to mention sporting the hair of Larry Bird at his most disheveled.

After a pep talk from the coach (including the tough love nugget, “Eleven o’clock sharp practice tomorrow…no baloney!”), we move to a graveyard, where a booze-swilling gravedigger gets a delivery in a beat up blue van (I guess the hearse was in the shop?). After the driver tips off the gravedigger (and the audience, of course) that the man in the body bag had killed a college security guard’s daughter and is the same guy who hung himself in the asylum during the credits, someone runs out of the woods and ends up beating the two idiots with a shovel before tossing them into the open grave. And we’re off!

Now that we know a killer is heading to campus, we need to get all the victims in one place, right? Well, thankfully we’ve got two perfect opportunities: a “golden oldies” party at the Gamma House (referring to the 1950s music…not the age of the students) and the corresponding scavenger hunt. Now, let’s talk about these students for a moment. I must make a quick confession that perhaps my least favorite movie of all time is Grease. In fact, I hate Grease. A big reason is that the characters in that movie never give it a rest…they spend the whole movie being silly and mugging for the camera and it’s just all too draining. Well…the “kids” in Girls Nite Out make John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John look like they’re on Quaaludes. The actors here are constantly talking in silly voices, cracking up at each other, and dancing around in a clear effort to make us audience members believe that they are wild and crazy college students (as opposed to dorky young adults). Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: real-life college (at least for me) did not involve talking in cartoon voices and constantly chasing “beaver” (a term that gets a lot of play here) – it included a lot of sitting around the dorm room drinking from a box of wine.

After several inane examples of madcap student behavior (which include boys wearing bras, strip poker, and the wonderful nickname “Jock Pits” – all in ONE scene), the murders start again, with the killer donning the school mascot uniform, which is a giant bear costume. Umm…OK, that’s inconspicuous. Props to the killer, though, for modifying the thing to include a claw made out of knives. And you thought Fred Krueger was original!

Meanwhile campus security guard Hal Holbrook is making the rounds; his murdered daughter was the one the gravediggers had been talking about earlier, and so he’s one of those loner, bitter security guards that makes everyone nervous. Oddly enough, he rarely interacts with anyone else in the film, leading one to assume he didn't spend much time on the set. Another name you might recognize – if you’re me – is Rutanya Alda (Faye Dunaway/Joan Crawford’s long-suffering maid in Mommie Dearest), who plays the kind of sassy, wisecracking diner waitress that everyone knows only exists in the movies. Speaking of recognizable names/faces…amazingly, despite appearances, this girl on the left is NOT Carol Kane:

Eventually one of the victims’ bodies is found, and suddenly – right at the end – we’re thrust into police investigation straight out of “Columbo.” Two seriously odd-looking cops interrogate every lame character from the whole movie, and during each interrogation we’re subjected to flashback scenes that show how each and every one of them could have had the motive/opportunity to be the killer. Really, people…it’s like the movie Clue without Lesley Ann Warren. And by the way…Hal Holbrook finally figures out who the killer is by taking a picture of the mental patient who killed himself and drawing hair on it with a Sharpie. Oh my God…he had a twin sister!!!

The ending is so good that I’m not going to ruin for you…and since I’m constantly ruining movies for you, that should tell you something. Let’s just say it sort of combines Sleepaway Camp, The Exorcist, and Psycho into one of the best climaxes I’ve ever seen in a slasher film. Seriously, I’d sit through a million more frat parties with the losers of Dewitt University just to get that ending again. Honestly, I didn’t see it coming, and it’s totally bizarre. And Rutanya Alda is now officially my favorite actress. That’s all I’m saying.

Anyway, like Final Exam before it, this movie tries to find a balance between being a slasher and a zany college comedy…and while the former movie is probably the more respected, I enjoyed this one more. Sure, it's got some pacing issues...but every element is over-the-top, from the campus parties to the annoying students to the killer’s outfit (and the fact that as he kills each one, he whispers, “B*tch! B*tch! You Whore!” like a Giallo pro), and you know we love over-the-top at Tower Farm. Really, it doesn’t get much more ridiculous than using a Sharpie to find your killer. And, just to bring it full circle, the title Girls Nite Out has nothing to do with anything. No reason for the “nite” instead of “night” either. However, this title is better than The Scaremaker, which was apparently the original name of the movie.

So, in the spirit of lazy spelling:



  1. I quite like absurdist spelling like "nite", it adds a cheesy charm.

    Oh, and you don't like Grease?!?!

  2. I'm gonna say that the spelling of 'NITE' is meant to evoke the feelings of small-town taverns that host 'Ladies' Nite' where chicks get free drinks & stuff.

    I also remember thinking that the bear-suit killer's claws would prob'ly be *terribly* ineffective in a real world setting, because they pretty much just look like steak knives, don't they?

    I own this but haven't watched it for a couple years. I just may have to revisit soon.

  3. I saw this one the first and only time on Commander USA's Groovie Movies that came on the USA Network in the mid to late 80's.

    In addition to the "bear claws", Freddy K must have seen DREAMSCAPE (1984) to get the idea of killing folks while they sleep.

  4. I have this flick in my Netflix queue. You've sold me on this one to the point that I'm moving it up. Very funny and entertaining revue.


  6. I absolutely love Girls Nite Out, it meets all of the slasher pre-requisites, but unlike many of the crappier entries of the mid to late 80s, this one has several genuinely scary scenes (the attic definitely topping my list)! I love the teddy bear costume too, so disarming but creepy at the same time. Reminds me of the bear in Akira

  7. Zac, know I hate musicals.

    You're so right...they ARE steak knives. I thought of the same thing. It would take about an hour to actually kill anyone.

    I have found many, many great movies because of USA in the 80s/90s. This one would be perfect on the USA Network, as there's pretty much nothing you'd need to edit out!

    It sat in the lower reaches of my queue for a long time, too -- I'm glad I finally moved it up.

    My God, have you seen every movie ever made? There is not one review we've written that you haven't seen are an amazing man!

    I'm so glad you agree -- I also think while it's completely goofy, there are some creepy scenes and good scares (the bear getting a girl through the window had me jumping right off the couch)...


  8. sorry i got here late. awesome review though. thanks for not spoiling the end because i think i'm going to give this one a try.

    that claw weapon thing in that pic is aces.

  9. Great review! I've never seen this one, but it sounds like a great movie for Beer Nite...or maybe Weed Nite...or perhaps the usual Bean Dip n'Tears Nite...

    BTW, Rutanya Alda also makes an impression in one of my fave WTF movies of all time, AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION. I won't sully you with links, but I gushed all over her at my place.

    IYKWIM. :)

    Summer Lovin'...Happened so fast..."

    (PS--my comment verification word is "acted." Rare to get an actual dictionary word...)

  10. Billy, you hate musicals?! You must be the most unstereotypical....

    ....horror fan ever! :D

    I like quite a few musicals.

  11. wiec,
    Definitely check it out -- I think you'll enjoy it. And yeah, I love the claw thing too, even though it doesn't look very threatening when used in the movie!

    Dude...come on! Here is the link to your review, which I just read...and now I'm totally determined to see this movie. I think I'm falling for Rutanya.

    Don't dislike of musicals is balanced out by my love of all things Diana Ross and Bette Davis.


  12. Girls Nite Out is a complete hoot.

    Thank you for the wonderful review!


  13. I am a big fan of this movie and like more than Final Exam as well. I agree, it's a bit OTT, but so much fun (and yes, the ending is quite good). I love Hal Holbrook's son in this movie. He kind of makes the whole thing for me. It's such a Catch 22 for him. You know he was only cast because they knew they could Hal to appear and you know Hal only did it because he knew it would get his son a job. Such love in that family!