Girls Nite Out - Girls Nite Out( Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2022]
Girls Nite Out aka The Scaremaker is an often haphazard / uneven blend of slasher and frat comedy from the early 1980s. When it wants to be it can be both creepily moody and quite bloodily brutal, but equally, it can be somewhat cliched and a little trying with its frat shenanigans. Here from the folks at Arrow Video, both in the UK & stateside, is a new blu ray release of the film- with as usual for an Arrow release, a good selection of extras including a new commentary track from slasher genre experts Justin Kerswell & Amanda Reyes.
Girls Nite Out appeared in the year 1982, right in the golden age of the slasher genre- and while it has its issues- there is worth here, that will appeal to those looking to dig deeper into the dice ‘n’ slice genre. The film was helmed by Cleveland Ohio born Robert Deubel, and it was his only feature-length directorial credit- otherwise, he did a 70’s documentary about Norman Rockwell, a TV doc about America's foremothers, and an early 80’s episode of American Playhouse.
The film starts off moodily promising, as we get shadowy shots of a nighttime hospital- with effective use of darkly brooding soundtracking. A nurse is sitting at a table, and keeps getting phone calls from one of the rooms- she goes to investigate, finding a man in pyjamas hanging himself. As we get into the film, and the first fifty or so minutes of the picture we (largely) get a mix of fraternity comedy with touches of drama here and there. The focus is on those in and connected with a college basketball team- with key characters being Teddy Ratliff (James Carrol) a cheekily charming, if cheating on his girlfriend captain of the team. And Pete 'Maniac' Krizaniac (Mart McChesney) His tall, gangly and blond buddy. We also have Michael Benson (Mathew Dunn)- who is seemingly sleeping with everyone he can, as well as dressing up as the team's bear mascot.. Oh, and the biggest name here Hal Halbrook- as the college's security head
Later on in the film, someone dressed in the bear costume- is attacking students, as the colleges annual nighttime scavenger hunt is taking place. The killer uses three steak knives as a claw to take out his victims, and this gives a few effectively brutal killers. We also in this part of the film get some nice moody and brooding wondering around in the dark/ half-light footage. With the whole thing moving towards a hammy-if-kind of chilling resolve.
The acting, for the most part, is pretty much what you’d expect from an 80’s frat comedy/ slasher. The characters themselves don’t feel very filled out, with you largely been just giving enough to ponder who might be the killer. The gore, when it does appear, is fairly brutal- with some neat stalking atmosphere set-up. The problem is there is not a huge amount of it- with only about two or three kills on screen, with the few others happening off-screen. On the whole, Girls Nite Out is a passable enough blend of frat comedy/drama and slasher- it’s just a pity, that there wasn’t more slash ‘n’ horror on display.
Moving onto this new Blu Ray release of the film. It features a 2K scan of the film taken from the original 35MM print- this is largely fairly good, with a clean and bright look- though there are a few moments of damage here and there, but there is nothing too bad. Moving onto the extras- and first off, we get a commentary track from Justin Kerswell, who is one of the co-hosts of the brilliant slasher podcast The Hysteria continues, and has written about the genre, and film historian/author Amanda Reyes. The track is a mix of more passionate-if chatty slasher talk, and more academic debate. They start off by talking about the film's swing between horror & humour, and how this makes it stand out from other slasher films. They talk about when they both first saw the film, and what their general impression of the picture was. They point out that many of the actors came from a theatrical background, and how like a lot of slasher films, they were older than they should have been. They discuss how the coach in the film was a real sports coach, and that the film was written by both comedy, sports, and horror writers. They mention the foreshowing in the film. Later on, they comment on the often-naturalistic feel of some of the films acting. Discuss bit-part actors and talk about their other work. They talk about the film's title change, its promotion, and taglines, and much more.
Otherwise, on the new extras side we get a selection of five stand-alone, and filmed interviews with cast members, these run between eight and twenty minutes. And are with the following actresses/ actors- Laura Summer, Lois Robbins, Paul Christie, Lauren-Marie Taylor and John Didrichsen. And these each have their worth. On the archive side, we get an interview with actress Julia Montgomery, The Scaremaker title card, and trailers. The first pressing of the finished release comes with an illustrated booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Gingold.
It's great to see Arrow Video releasing yet another slasher film from the golden age of the genre, and while Girls Nite Out is not a prime example of the slice ‘n’ dice form. The mix of frat comedy and slasher is interesting, and along the way, there are some generally chilling and brutal moments on display here. Roger Batty