When Halloween and Friday The 13th became box office sensations, producers and directors immediately wanted to cash in on the slasher trend. The genre was perfect for them since it was all about keeping the budget low and the body count high. The cast was made up of unknown kids so you didn’t have to break the bank for star power. The big thing was finding a special effects wizard that would gross out the audience with creative kills. Anthony N. Gurvis and Kevin Kurgis were two lawyers in Ohio who wanted to produce a feature film during the gold rush of gore. They teamed up with director Robert Deubel (Oscar winner for Best Short Subject). The original plan was to make a film at Denison College in Ohio. This didn’t happen since the school wasn’t quite up for being the location of serial killing. So the trio came to New York City to create a film that might have been seen as Girls Nite Out or The Scaremaker depending on where or when you caught it. The film is finally getting upgraded to Blu-ray as Girls Nite Out.
DeWitt University is in a party mood since their basketball team has won a major game to get into the tournament. As part of the celebration, there’s a massive scavenger hunt on campus for the female students. Two major things happen while the kids are either getting drunk, hooking up or looking for clues. First is at a nearby insane asylum, Dickie Cavanaugh has killed himself. He’s a former student who killed Patty MacVey. Her father Jim MacVey (Mark Twain Tonight‘s Hal Holbrook). Before Dickie can be put into his grave, a stranger jumps the diggers and put them in the hole. Making matters worse, a stranger kills the school mascot and steals his bear costume. The evil mascot roams the campus and picks off various students while they listen to the college radio station with what they need to grab next to win the scavenger hunt. Will anyone be alive to claim the grand prize? Did Dickie fake his death to escape the asylum and take revenge on his old school?
Girls Nite Out arrived around Christmas season in 1982 when there was a glut of slasher film. You’d figure the movie would stand out by having Hal Holbrook in a leading role. He was Deep Throat in All The President’s Men. He added a bit of class to the film that set it apart from other student body count flicks. It didn’t quite make the film a massive hit. The film played regionally which explains why they swapped the name of the film in mid-release. How did Holbrook end up in this film? Turns out he got involved when the film was going to be shot at Denison. He and a few of the filmmakers went to the school. When they had to swap locations, Holbrook still gave them three days. Holbrook also got to act with his son David. Holbrook is as much of a draw to the film as the creepy killer mascot.
An interesting piece of trivia is that one of the screenwriters is Joe Bolster. The comic would go on to be one of the hosts of Comedy Central’s Sports Monster with Nick Bakay and Jon Hayman. The cult favorite show remains the best spoof of ESPN’s SportsCenter. A serious piece of trivia is that the fictional basketball coach is the legendary Al McGuire. He led Marquette to the NCAA title in 1977 before becoming the basketball analyst for NBC Sports.
Girls Nite Out might not have done Friday The 13th box office action, but it was a popular rental title in the early years of VHS. Any kid looking for a slasher film could easily get mom to let him rent it since it starred Hal Holbrook. Would Hal Holbrook make a senseless teenage body count flick? Even though found a second life on home video and cable, the two producers went back to being lawyers in Ohio. They had made a fine teen slasher film with a mix of comedy, ’80s college partying and furry ferocity to make set it apart from a summer camp killer. The only mistake they made was not delivering it fast enough to the theaters. Girls Nite Out is a fine reason to stay home after dark.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The 2K restoration was made from a variety of 35mm vault elements since they can’t locate the camera negative. The are a little roughness to the image, but that adds to the patina of an early ’80s slasher flick. The audio is LPCM mono. The levels are fine as the mascot pops up and claims victims. The movie is subtitled.
Audio commentary features genre film critic/author Justin Kerswell and film historian/author Amanda Reyes. They go into the era of teenage slaughter films. The two really enjoy the film so they appreciate the film and don’t scoff it off. They delve into the mix of comedy and horror. She remembers it on cable quite a bit. He compares it as a mix of Animal House and Friday The 13th.
Staying Alive (19:25) is a new video interview with actress Julia Montgomery. She talks about what got her into acting as a kid. She got addicted to the applause. She describes growing up in New Jersey and zipping into New York City for modeling gigs that turned into commercials and acting.
A Savage Mauling (15:30) is an interview with actress Laura Summer. This was her big step up after doing commercials in New York City. She says the shoot was 22 days. Summer has stayed busy acting and voice acting. She was recently part of Digimon Adventure tri.
Alone in the Dark (8:44) chats with actress Lois Robbins. During the audition process, she discovered she had dated one of the producers. She talks about not getting the whole script so the ending was a surprise. She goes into her party costume and headdress.
It Was a Party (20:55) sits down with actor Paul Christie. He talks about how they changed a bit of the script during the shoot to make his character a bit more comedic to balance with the slasher elements. He remembers the movie was going to be called Blood Games.
Love & Death (16:56) is a video interview with actors Lauren-Marie Taylor and John Didrichsen shot over Zoom. Taylor had just made Friday the 13th Part 2 and Neighbors with John Belushi. Their memories of making the film are extremely happy when you find out what they did after the shoot.
Archival video interview (6:45) has actress Julia Montgomery talk about making a movie after years on a soap opera. There is talk of the bedroom fart scene. She would go on to Revenge of the Nerds.
Alternate Title Card (0:23) is from when the film was released as The Scaremaker.
Original Trailers for the release as both The Scaremaker (2:52) and Girls Nite Out (1:10). The second trailer has a character talk straight to the camera about the missing girls and the suspects.
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring Michael Gingold’s essay on the film.
Arrow Video presents Girls Nite Out. Directed by Robert Deubel. Screenplay by Gil Spencer Jr., Kevin Kurgis, Joe Bolster & Anthony N. Gurvis. Starring Hal Holbrook, Julia Mongomery, Rutanya Alda, Laura Summer & Al McGuire. Running Time: 97 minutes. Rating: Rated R. Release Date: May 17, 2022.