Review Date: November 18, 2005
Released by: Guilty Pleasures
Release date: 8/30/2005
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 1.85:1 | 16x9: Yes
Ask anyone what the scariest scene in The Shining
is, and most will ardently tell you: the bear suit. Despite Jack-o going all wacko, and all the crazy blood letting, that one image of a man in a bear suit manages to resonate above all else. It is probably one of the most eerie moments in the cinema. It is a stroke of genius then, that the identity of the killer in Girls Nite Out
is concealed by a similarly frightening bear costume. The marketing made no reference to this, instead sporting a confused campaign around an already confused title. Girls Nite Out
came and went with little notice, but a new Media Blaster’s subsidiary, Guilty Pleasures, has finally released it on DVD. Put on the suit and let’s get all warm and fuzzy with the Girls.
On a small Ohio college campus, there exists a legend. The story has many different versions, but the gist of it is that several years ago, disturbed student Dickie Cavanaugh flipped out and murdered his girlfriend. Some say it was because he was forced to endure the humiliation of the bear suit ritual, while others say it was because he had his heart broken by the same girl. Whatever the truth, the legend still haunts the campus, and this new batch of scholars will do everything they can to desecrate the legend so as to force the killer back into submission.
After a big college basketball win, the jocks and the cheerleaders all get together at a rollicking costume party. They all get drunk and celebrate, and each couple seems to do a relationship swap, since by the end of the night no same pair ends up together. Thus, we get two key slasher plot devices at once: horny teenagers ready to copulate, and several others with broken hearts big enough to fit a red herring in for each. Before the murders even begin, you get the nerdy basketball bookkeeper looking for a date, the mulletted dumpee looking for revenge and the escaped convict looking to strike again. Death happens quickly after though, as the team mascot is killed and his bear suit stolen.
The night after a campus-wide scavenger hunt is hosted by the college radio station, and with each clue given seems to come a corresponding death. Also, the radio jockey is getting some creepy telephone calls as well. He contacts campus security, lead by officer Jim MacVey (Hal Holbrook
), who quickly goes out on the hunt. It is revealed that MacVey’s daughter was the one murdered by Dickie all those years ago, and he will do everything he can to make sure these murders don’t escalate again. But the bear goes over the mountain, as it were, and horny alums are the prey.
The script in this movie is so bad. Not bad in the incompetent sense, but more just in lazy execution. Where to start, I don’t know. For one, there is no continuity between scenes. It is as if each one exists apart from the other, with characters popping in with significant roles in one scene, only to be completely forgotten for the rest. The movie sets up all these characters and relationships that end up going nowhere. After it reaches it’s conclusion (more on that next), you wonder why the movie wasted so much of its time on characters when they really were insubstantial. I mean, they weren’t even at the very least made victims.
Then we get a large plot about this apparent scavenger hunt. The parameters of which are never really explained, it becomes frustrating when it seems only a few people are partaking when this is supposed to be the central activity of the second half of the film. The party at the start had more cohesion. As for how any of this ties into the ridiculous title, I don’t know. The movie can’t even decide on the central legend of Dickie Cavanaugh. One person tells one story, then the next person another. Think of how many slashers rely on a clear and threatening legend to move their story forward. Madman
¸ The Burning
, My Bloody Valentine
, The Prowler
, hell, basically every memorable slasher abides by this. Getting the slasher’s legend straight should be the last thing of concern in the film. Yet, they somehow managed to screw it up.
All these leads to a conclusion that offers probably the least resolve ever in a slasher film. If you thought House on Sorority Row
’s ending seemed too open-ended, wait until you see this. We get no sort of idea what will happen to the actual killer, no resolve for our lead actors, no resolve for anything, really. Instead, the camera just stops upon some shock reveal, thinking that the shock alone makes the film worthy of being finished. I just can’t believe that is the end. Surely, somewhere in some elusive slasher movie vault, the final reel for the film lies archived and untouched.
I wonder how the writers got the fundamentals of the film so terribly wrong when it is clear through the dialogue that they know what they are talking about. There is a little self-referentiality when the characters make reference to Freud and blame their sexual appetites on some latent childhood traumas, which is a regular slasher villain motive. The dialogue too, although too overly showy, does contain a natural and exciting spontaneity to it. But the telling of the actual story, it’s just bad, bad, bad. Hal Holbrook’s character doesn’t really exist for anything. He comes in and literally spells out his dilemma to the audience (“My daughter met a guy like you…now she’s dead!”) but then does nothing else in the story. He meets up with the killer at the end, but the movie ends before he ever does anything.
It is frustrating what a mess the film’s script is, but this is a slasher film and holding it against a writing standard seems moot. The film does succeed in several respects, from the creepiness of the killer’s bear suit to the charisma of the leading actors. Julia Montgomery, who’d go on to play the memorable Betty Childs in Revenge of the Nerds
, plays probably the only female heroine ever in a slasher film never to have to face off with the killer. She’s wonderfully wholesome here, and her commitment to the part sets her apart. The rest of the cast really have a lot of fun with yuking it up, and they keep the whole atmosphere of the film light and breezy. Gore is virtually non-existent, but the idea of having the killer use a made-up bear claw as a weapon just adds that extra bit of cool to each of the murders. The lighting is surprisingly professional as well, lighting up those open forests so clearly that it allows you to ponder just why the hell the characters would ever be so stupid to wander inside them alone in the first place.
Ultimately, Girls Nite Out
is really too forgettable to really dwell on the qualities, good or bad. The best part about it is the bear suit, and that’s just stolen out of a better movie anyway. As entertainment it works decently enough as a slasher fix for those who’ve exhausted themselves with better, more justifiably popular slasher entries. I guess I recommend it, I don’t know. It’s middling, but I can think of several slashers guilty of far worse. Like not having a bear suit.
Guilty Pleasures presents the film in anamorphic 1.85:1, and there is nothing to feel guilty about with this transfer. Other than the clarity lost by the interlaced transfer, this is a sharp transfer for a film of such age. Observe the photo of Hal Holbrook above to witness this first hand. Blacks captured are surprisingly solid, very delineated and lend well to the overall mood of the picture. There is some dust and scratches that pop up from time to time, as well as the occasional cigarette burn, but it is never all that distracting. Colors are very well rendered, and considering the party scene is a flamboyant clashing of every new wave color scheme imaginable, the colors hold their own on this transfer extremely well. One of the better Media Blasters transfers I can remember.
The mix on the DVD is a disappointing 2.0 mono track. The mixing of the dialogue against the music and effects track is often cluttered, and there are several times when the dialogue seems overwhelmed by music. The party scenes are especially guilty of this, and it is made worse by the fact that the music seems like an endless loop of “Summer in the City” and “Do You Believe in Magic”. The overall mix is flat, although the track sounds clear of any aging or transfer defects.
What was Media Blasters thinking when the designed the packaging and menus for the film? A huge plot twist is revealed not only on the back of the DVD casing, but it’s also right there on the main menu. DVD packaging could not be more ill conceived even if they were to release The Sixth Sense: He’s A Ghost, Guys
edition. So don’t read the back packaging, and close your eyes and just keep clicking “okay” on your remote to start up the feature if you want to go into the film fresh.
Since you won’t be reading the back cover, I’ll tell you that they’ve neglected to list an extra on there anyway, so it isn’t representative of everything on the disc. The main feature is a six minute interview with Julia Montgomery, the non-confrontational Final Girl in the film. Julia is a class act, and rare for successful Hollywood actresses, she speaks only kind things of the whole shoot. She talks about how it was her first big role, and how she took it with extreme seriousness. She laughs about having to react to a stinky Dutch oven given to her by her boyfriend in the film. That takes class. She also briefly comments on her involvement in Revenge of the Nerds
. God bless her little heart.
The disc is rounded off with an original trailer that features footage not shown in the film. It is pretty tacky, and misrepresents the film by making it seem more like a sleazy slasher when really there isn’t an ounce of nudity throughout. The final extra, which isn’t advertised, is an alternate title sequence with the alternate titling of the film, “The Scaremaker”. Cool title, although it fits the film even less than the current title. The disc is rounded off with some previews for these other Guilty Pleasure flicks: Groove Room
, Las Vegas Serial Killer
, and Hell’s Bloody Devils
. While not exactly a packed release, the inclusion of Montgomery’s kind words make this a nice surprise.
A killer in a bear suit. If that frightens you in any way, or at least elicits a chuckle, then you’ll probably enjoy Girls Nite Out
. The script is so poorly constructed, but the spirited performances and effective murder sequences should at the very least please fans of the genre. The video quality is notably solid, while the audio is often times overwhelmed by the music. A retrospective interview with eighties beauty Julia Montgomery is a nice little cherry on the disc, and sums up the film nicely. Watchable, but beary forgettable. What?
Movie - C+
Image Quality - A-
Sound - C-
Supplements - B-
- Running Time - 1 hour 36 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter Stops
- English mono 2.0
- Interview with actress Julia Montgomery
- Alternate title sequence
- Theatrical Trailer
- Additional Media Blasters trailers