Monday, July 25, 2011

"We're just typical victims of a society gone beserk!"

You may remember Mark from my interview a few weeks ago. Well that went off so good he asked if he could drop by once and awhile and review some films. He brings a little different flavor to the reviews. Up first, one of my favorite slasher films.

Girls Nite Out (1984)

Written by Joe Bolster.

Directed by Robert Duebel.

Tagline: The next time you go to a Fancy Dress Party....check who's going with you.

I decided that, as a reviewer, I'm going to focus on those little unseen forgotten gems from the 1980's. The era of the greats, if you will. Back then, horror movies were being churned out like handouts at the welfare office. And the lines to see them were just as long.

I have a few of these gems lined up ... But today, kids I'll present what I call the Citizen Kane of campus slasher films Girls Nite Out.

Yes, the misspelling is intentional.

SUMMARY FROM THE IMDB: In an insane asylum, an inmate commits suicide. Days later, the day after the big homecoming basketball game and the victory party, an all-night scavenger hunt is held on the campus of a small Ohio college. Also engaging in the hunt is a killer, wearing the dancing bear costume of the school mascot. The killer's hunt however is stalking a number of cheerleaders and killing them with a variety of sharp knifes. The campus chief security officer Mac whose daughter was a victim of a similar killer, the inmate thatcommitted suicide, tries to find out whose behind it before more killings happen.

MY SUMMARY: The IMDB summary pretty much says it all, so I'll just go into production back story. The movie was made in 1982, but sat on the proverbial shelf for two years. When it was made, it was called The Scaremaker. It was re titled in '84 in order to sell it to a different crowd. New title, old title...whatever. This movie is actually a great piece of film. It "stars" Hal Holbrookof Designing Women, Magnum Force and Fletch Lives fame. The quotations mean that, although he was top billed, he only shows up for about 5 minutes in total. His real life son appears also. It also marks the big screen debut of Julia Montgomery who later went on to play the female lead in Revenge of the Nerds.

MY THOUGHTS: This movie captured the zeitgeist perfectly. For you uncultured swine out there, zeitgeist is German for Spirit of the Times. It was like a Grease remake with a crazy killer chasing the Pink Ladies. The killer wears a big bear suit throughout the film which doesn't scare anyone at first, but the killer has modified it to suit his needs. The cast was great. Their dynamics were perfect. The addition of Holbrook, albeit sparingly, was nice too. He brought a slight level of class, even though you could tell he really didn't want to be there.

AUDIO: 7 / 10. The sound was good. At times the music and dialogue wasn't mixed properly, especially the party scene. And the killer talked (witch doesn't sit well with me) and it was hard to hear them. The soundtrack was good...a lot of 50s and 60s rock and R&B. I wonder how much the rights to those songs cost?

VISUALS: 9 / 10. The campus setting was creepy. A nice partner to the killings. I personally love the 'killer on campus' sub-genre. In the 80's it was all about atmosphere, not just gore. Even though this movie had enough of that, too. The blood effects were good and the bear suit was a classic. Oh, how I'd love to remake this film.

ACTING: 10 /10. Back then, productions like this (while low budget) were taken very seriously. The were planned out way in advance and when it came time to film, the acting was perfect. Everyone involved was on top of their game. And, in the case of Hal Holbrook, seriously, but obviously through an alcoholic haze. All in all the cast was perfect. Julia Montgomery cut her movie chops here and was very believable in her role. The killer, when unmasked, was amazing. Craziness is hard to pull off. Anyone can act weird, but to make you actually believe you're insane, that takes talent. You can tell, through the various performances, that the cast was having as much fun as their characters. The performances were very real and free flowing.

WRITING: 10 /10. This script was perfect. I love campus slasher movies, as stated above. Again, the campus angle is by far my favorite sub-genres. Joe Bolster wrote perfect lines for perfect characters. The story and sub plots held true to the main story. Plus, he threw in more red herring's than a seafood platter at your local Chinese restaurant.

DIRECTING: 9 /10. As was the case in old school film making, nothing too flashy shot wise. No smash cuts, or cutting to close ups at weird times. Not that there's a problem with any of those things, but sometimes they take away from the action and story. A lot of contemporary film makers think that crazy shots and editing is what puts their stamp on a film. It does, don't get me wrong, but to put your stamp on a film while shooting it traditionally is a lost art. In the shots, mostly medium, the director was able to set up suspense and show the isolation in a place that was crowded with people. That's not an easy task either. Scorsese did it with Taxi Driver, and Duebel did it here. I's blasphemy to mention Taxi Driver in comparison to an 80's slasher film, but I was proving a point.

OVERALL: 10 /10. This movie is a perfect look at the era that defined slasher. While the Italians were making New York Ripper and A Blade in the Dark, we were making Girls Nite Out. It holds up to the European counterparts. Watch it. You won't be disappointed. It's relatively easy to find...usually in a box set. If you're older like me and never got a chance to see it, do so. If you're younger and want to see where it all came from, watch it. And love it.

- MARK -


Richard of DM said...

Great review! I'm always glad to see Girls Nite Out (a favorite from my youth) get some love. I caught this on TV one night and it changed my life forever.

Professor Brian O'Blivion said...

Richard-thanks from me and Mark.
All I remember from the first time I saw Girls Nite Out was that ending. But had forgotten it. Years later picking up the DVD it struck me as I watched the ending, I've seen this movie! And I've loved it ever since!

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