Release Date(s)1982 (May 17, 2022)
Studio(s)Aries International/Independent International (Arrow Video)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: B+
Produced by a pair of lawyers and released under different titles, Girls Nite Out (also known as The Scaremaker) didn’t light the box office on fire upon its various releases throughout the 1980s. It was rolled out in different areas of the country and the world with various marketing campaigns that either highlighted its horror or the non-existent sexual components. The film was also shot quickly, forcing director Robert Deubel to do only a couple of takes per shot. Performances range from laughable to awkward, and everything in between. For the majority of the running time, wacky characters are constantly spouting tons of dialogue, which gives them a little more than most slashers of the era. It certainly gives the film a step up in the interesting department, that’s for sure. Featuring Hal Holbrook (The Fog, Creepshow), who literally phones in his performance, Julie Montgomery (The Kindred), Rutanya Alda (The Deer Hunter), and Lauren-Marie Taylor (Friday the 13th Part 2), Girls Nite Out is a hoot. I can see modern viewers being put off by the Animal House-style antics, but it’s part of what gives the film a certain kind of charm that most low budget slashers of the era don’t have.
The students of DeWitt University have just won the championship basketball game and they’re ready for a night of celebration, as well as a traditional scavenger hunt, which the female students will be participating in. While they party and fraternize with each other, someone is lurking in the shadows. Days before, a patient at Weston Hills Sanitarium, Dickie Cavanaugh, committed suicide after having killed his girlfriend in a jealous rage many years prior. The night of his burial, someone kills the gravediggers, then proceeds to don the basketball team’s mascot bear suit, equipping it with blades in the paws. And after replacing the details of the scavenger hunt with their own, they lurk around the areas of solutions and murder whomever comes along. The main campus security officer (Holbrook) must now try and figure out who the killer is and stop them.
Girls Nite Out was shot by director of photography Joe Rivers on 35 mm film with Panavision Panaflex cameras and Panavision lenses, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The title card that opens Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release informs us that none of the film’s pre-print materials could be found. As such, one of the producer’s collection of 35 mm prints were sourced and scanned in 2K, using the highest quality sections available. It’s also noted that a few small sections had to be sourced from a standard definition video tape for moments that were missing from or damaged on the prints. Having watched this a couple of times now, these moments are extremely difficult to spot. Film grain is heavy and chunky, as expected, and blacks are crushed. There’s also an abundance of scratches, speckling, and minor instability on display. Given that this is the best option there is at the present time, you have to cut it some slack. It’s quite watchable with a strong color palette and good flesh tones. Everything is clear enough that directionality is never an issue. It also gives you a taste of how audiences saw it upon its theatrical release.
Audio is included in English mono LPCM with optional subtitles in English SDH. It’s a decent mono track with good support for the various elements, particularly the score which has a surprising amount of low frequency activity to it. Dialogue exchanges are clear and precise.
The Blu-ray disc of Girls Nite Out sits inside a clear amaray case with double-sided artwork, featuring new artwork by Justin Osbourn on the front and the original poster artwork on the reverse. Inside is a 24-page insert booklet featuring cast and crew information, the essay Can You Bear It?: The Story of Girls Nite Out by Michael Gingold, and restoration information. Everything is housed within a slipcover featuring the same new artwork. The following extras are included on the disc:
- Audio Commentary with Justin Kerswell and Amanda Reyes
- Staying Alive (HD – 19:25)
- A Savage Mauling (HD – 15:30)
- Alone in the Dark (HD – 8:44)
- It Was a Party! (HD – 20:55)
- Love & Death (HD – 16:56)
- Archival Interview (SD – 6:45)
- Alternate Title Card (HD – :23)
- The Scaremaker Trailer (HD – 2:52)
- Girls Nite Out Trailer (Upscaled SD – 1:10)
The audio commentary features Justin Kerswell of The Hysteria Continues podcast and Amanda Reyes, author of Are You in the House Alone?: A TV Movie Compendium 1964-1999. They watch the film together and discuss it as they go along, delving into their early exposure to it, how it came into being, the cast and crew, and various facets of the film. It’s an enjoyable back-and-forth discussion. In Staying Alive, actress Julie Montgomery talks about how she got into the business, being cast in the film, her memories of making the film, the marketing, the cast and crew, fleshing out the characters, her other films, fan reactions, the ending, and her final thoughts. In A Savage Mauling, actress Laura Summer talks about getting the part, her experiences making the film, her character, shooting quickly under pressure, the other actors, the film’s release and afterlife, and her career afterwards. In Alone in the Dark, actress Lois Robbins discusses getting into acting early, being cast in the film, her character, shooting the film quickly, her life and career at the time, her career today, and how she sees the film today. In It Was a Party!, actor Paul Christie (who apparently owns birds as they’re very loud in the background) talks about getting into the film business, dealing with casting, the script, the different titles, ad-libbing frequently, the other actors, being a voice actor, the cult appeal of the film, and seeing the film today. In Love & Death, actors Lauren-Marie Taylor and John Didrichsen, who are married and provide an interview via Skype/Zoom, talk about their exposure to horror films, their characters, working with the director and the other actors, Taylor’s death scene, their real-life relationship, seeing the film for the first time, their animals working in the business, Didrichsen’s recording career, and their gratefulness for having done the film. The Archival Interview—sourced from the 2005 Media Blasters DVD release—features Julie Montgomery again speaking about many of the same things in the new interview.
There’s something imperfect but surprisingly enjoyable about Girls Nite Out that makes the film ripe for rediscovery by modern audiences in love with the 80s slasher craze. It’s got midnight audience written all over it. Arrow Video’s release certainly allows it to be seen in the highest quality possible with a nice set of extras to go with it. If you’re a horror fan, this one is worth picking up.
- Tim Salmons