Sunday has arrived once again, which means it's time to look at another movie in my rapidly increasing horror dvd collection. This week I'm taking a look at a film that manages the difficult trick of failing on every possible level. In fact, I suspect that it may be bad enough to set the standard by which the worst SHMDI films will be judged. "This is bad," I can imagine myself saying as I watch a future movie, "but is it Girls Nite Out bad?"
Girls Nite Out is so bad that its existence serves as proof of an intriguing cinematic paradox that I shall henceforth refer to as the GNO Enigma, which results whenever a film is so mindlessly derivitive that it plays like nothing more than a handful of scenes stolen from other movies, while also being so incompetently produced that it becomes evident that its filmmakers have never actually seen another movie in their lives, much less the ones they are so transparently imitating. The only possible way to explain how this film came to be is that its four writers and lone director were raised in the wilderness by baboons or wolves, brought into the civilized world, given camera equipment, told the plots of Friday the 13th and National Lampoon's Animal House and then asked to recreate what they had just heard as best they could. Any other explanation is simply too depressing to consider.
Actually, it seems more likely that the folks responsible for this mess were raised by bears, since that would explain their decision to disguise their antogonist in the bear suit you see pictured on the right. That's not a joke. This movie is actually filled with scenes of screaming young women being brutally attacked by a maniac in a goofy bear costume, and--truthfully--a part of me wanted to like it for exactly that reason. I am not someone who gets upset when genre filmmakers decide to explore their whimsical sides. Just the opposite. I love it when a movie is willing to risk silliness in an attempt to do something different. It's just that in this case, the bear costume represents the filmmakers' only moment of inspiration.
Whenever I watch an obviously bad film, I do everything I can to find something worth admiring about it. Whether it's the cinematography or the soundtrack or the performance by a particular actor, I always try to look for something good I can focus on and enjoy. Usually I find something, but Girls Nite Out is that rare film where I came up completely empty. The film is a technical mess with grainy, unpleasant photography, torpid direction, abysmal editing and a soundtrack that consists entirely of Ohio Express' bubblegum anti-classic "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" and both of the only two songs The Lovin' Spoonful ever recorded (or, at least, might as well have) "Do You Believe in Magic?" and "Summer in the City." All three songs are played multiple times throughout the movie, which wouldn't be so bad if part of its plot didn't depend on everyone listening to the (world's worst) campus radio station.
But the films two biggest liabilities are its screenplay and cast of supremely untalented actors. The script is a complete narrative shambles, filled with characters who serve no useful purpose other than to supply moments of exposition so randomly out of context that they take on the air of avant garde non sequiturs, a romantic sub-plot that takes up a third of the movie's run time for no justifiable reason whatsover and a structure that builds up one character as its protagonist only to have her essentially disappear from the film in it's last half. Critics often express shock when they find out a film this bad required the services of four different writers, but the truth is that a script this sloppy and schizophrenic could only result from its being passed around in this manner.
Still, even if its four writers had managed to create a worthwhile screenplay, it wouldn't have made a difference, since the actors cast in the film range from merely awful to actively abhorrent. Out of them all, only its lone name actor, Hal Holbrook, and its top-billed star, Julie Montgomery, manage to get through their scenes without you wanting to reach through the screen and hurt them very, very badly. That's not to say Holbrook is good, but since he was both Mark Twain and Deep Throat you feel obligated to give him some slack. Similarly, Montgomery earns her amnesty only because she played the frequently topless blond sorority sister who fell in love with Robert Carradine in Revenge of the Nerds and thus lives forever in our geek hearts. Considering how bad the script is, one has to ask why an actor of Holbrook's stature is even doing in the movie (beyond the obvious quicky paycheck). The answer, it would seem, can be found in the opening credits, which includes the phrase "Introducing David Holbrook", who just happens to be Hal's son and who also sets the record for worst performance ever given by the offspring of an award-winning actor (take that Eric Douglas!).
I'll spare myself the challange of providing a synopsis of the plot, because the film's "structure" makes such an endeavor a virtual impossibility. Essentially it can be summed up like this: a bunch of extremely irritatiing college basketball players have problems with their equally irritating cheerleader girlfriends, a psycho who killed the campus security chief's daughter several years ago may have faked his suicide and escaped to kill again or he really did kill himself and someone is pretending to be him in the bear suit. There are a lot of red herrings, the world's lamest "hip" DJ, a supposedly wildly-popular campus-wide scavenger hunt that's apparently only being played by five girls (thus the film's otherwise nonsensical title) and an insultingly lame twist ending.
I think it's fairly obvious that I didn't like this movie, even though I really tried (if just for the bear costume gimmick alone). For that reason I gotta recommend that you avoid it at all costs, which coming from someone who urges that you all see Night of the Lepus is saying a lot.
Body Count: 8 for sure(4 men and 4 women) with 2 more at the end who may or may not survive their injuries.
Shower Scenes: 0 (There is one bubble bath and a false scare, but it doesn't count)
Instances of Nakedity: 0 (and all of the sex occurs offscreen)
Obligatory Has Beens: The current Mr. Dixie Carter.
Instruments of Death: Rope, Shovel, Steak Knives Converted into Bear Claws, Butcher Knife
Moments of Inexplicable Female Jealousy: o (There's plenty of jealousy in the movie, but it's all completely warrented)
Creepy (and therefore suspicious ) Old Guys: None in the traditional sense.
References to Pot: 2 (seen smoked at a party and by two of the scavenger hunt victims)
Number of Completely Ineffective Jump Scares: At least four obvious ones, but the film is so badly made that it is entirely possible that I missed some.
Amount of Time Required to Correctly Identify Killer: None. The DVD menu screen pretty much gives it away.
Exploding Heads: o
Cheesy References to Other Horror Movies: 1 (One of the characters does an impression of Mrs. Bates from Psycho)
Utterly Pointless Trivia: Before David Holbrook retired from the screen in the late 80s, he played the role of Fatso Gribbens in Creepshow II, the sequel to a movie that starred his famous dad.
Final Girl Rating: 1 out of 10