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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Too Many Holbrooks

Greatest title card ever. Hal Holbrook may not be the least likely star to appear in a cheap slasher movie, but he’s got to be close. The reason he’s in 1983’s GIRLS NITE OUT is simple to guess, considering the name “David Holbrook” also appears in the opening titles. The old man must have been trying to do his son a solid by spending a couple of days in Jersey in front of director Robert Deubel’s camera, but David’s acting career never took off. Not surprising, considering how untalented and unattractive he is in GIRLS NITE OUT.

Which do you like better--the purple sweater or the mullet that sweeps over the ears? I can imagine the reactions of the casting directors who had to watch this on David’s demo reel.

I may have spoken too soon about Hal’s title card, as silly as it is, being the greatest ever. It’s not even the best in the movie. You have to agree that this one is:

That’s right--former Marquette basketball coach and NBC Sports loudmouth Al McGuire puts in a couple of hours work as “Coach Kimble”, a role that is so inconsequential to the film that you wonder why Deubel bothered getting Al to do it.

Besides the casting of Holbrook and McGuire, the only other noteworthy aspect of GIRLS NITE OUT is its killer: a cuddly teddy bear. More specifically, a psychopath dressed in the school’s bear mascot suit is slicing up cute coeds on the campus of Dewitt University in Westville, Ohio. Who could it be? The superstud captain of the basketball team (James Carroll) who's cheating on his cute girlfriend? "Maniac" (Mart McChesney), the superstar center who was just dumped by his girlfriend? Benson (Mathew Dunn), the putz who plays the school mascot (the Dewitt Bears)? Pryor (David Holbrook), the lumpy loser who calls his ex-girlfriend a whore, just because she dumped him to have sex with Benson, her cousin? “Mac, the Security Guard”, whose daughter was murdered in a similar manner several years earlier? Or is it the secondary, seemingly irrelevant character whose only possible reason for existing is for the "shock" ending?

The slashfest occurs during an all-night scavenger hunt organized by the campus radio station that also plays a non-stop barrage of '60s bubblegum songs. Even if you‘re a fan of Oldies radio stations, you‘ll get real sick real fast of the entire Lovin‘ Spoonful, Tommy James & the Shondells and 1910 Fruitgum Company catalogs. The entire music budget must have gone to Buddah and Roulette, because no credit is given for the underscore, which is probably library music.

The product of four writers (whose credits are buried in the closing crawl), one of whom is standup comic Joe Bolster, GIRLS NITE OUT knows all the clich?s of slasher movies, but doesn't really pay off on any of them. For instance, it seems to know that all the obnoxious people are supposed to be killed off first, but it doesn't supply any nice ones for us to follow--all the teens are unlikable. It looks as though the basketball captain is supposed to be the hero, but he's an arrogant jackass who sleeps around behind his sweet girlfriend's back. The girlfriend, Lynn (Julie Montgomery, who went topless REVENGE OF THE NERDS, but, sadly, not here), seems like she might become the Final Girl, but her screen time is limited in the second half, and she never really gets very involved in the plot. It's interesting to view how Hal Holbrook is used. It looks like he only worked one or maybe two days. Except for one bit player, he never appears in the same shot with another actor, not even his son, and he may have even filmed all of his scenes after principal photography wrapped. However, Deubel makes sure to sprinkle all of Holbrook's scenes throughout the film, including one baffling reaction early on that was probably an outtake from elsewhere in the film.

To give some credit, the goofy teddy bear suit gives the killings a shot of spice, and there also seem to be some interesting gender role reversals going on, but GIRLS NITE OUT is ultimately no more than a suspenseless, bloodless, weakly performed waste of time. But what else would you expect from a movie that misspells its title?

Posted by Marty at 12:53 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2005 12:54 AM CDT
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