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eighties horror you might have missed

Girls Nite Out (1982)

There are many reasons that I will rent a horror film - it could be a favorite director (or actor), a recommendation from a friend, or that it warranted a special edition (or blu ray release). The reason I rented Girls Nite Out is because I had read that the killer wears a bear suit [1] - that was really all I needed to know. Anyone who has seen The Shining knows that's creepy. I had planned to show a screenshot of the bear, but maybe that ruins the surprise a little bit? I'm just going to show you a picture of his paw, which has retractable knife blades (btw, this is two years before Freddy's glove in A Nightmare on Elm Street).

That's all you get - you'll have to rent it to see the whole bear. Now there are several other reasons why I think you might enjoy Girls Nite Out. The premise is that a group of college kids are doing an on-campus scavenger hunt (at night), following a big basketball game [2]. Naturally, they get separated from each other and get picked off by the bear-suited killer [3] - intercut with that is a college radio DJ giving out clues and playing hits from the late-60s (such as "Yummy Yummy Yummy" and "Summer in the City") [4]. It's very reminiscent of the DJ scenes in The Warriors ("ok, let's get down to it boppers..."), although she was much cooler.  The killer uses a not-scary, raspy voice when making taunting calls to the radio DJ, not unlike the killer in Scream. Notable characters include a guy who farts while in bed with his girlfriend and a cafeteria lady who honks a small horn after telling a joke (played by Rutanya Alda, of The Stuff and Amityville II, among others). Hal Holbrook plays the campus security guard who is trying to catch the killer - you may know him as the Deep Throat character in All The President's Men, but he's also in Creepshow and The Fog. The college kids are all pretty hammy - their dialogue is over-the-top hilarious; totally enjoyable. There are some great scenes too. Early in the film, two gravediggers pull a body bag out of a van and begin digging a grave for it, but before they can finish, the killer attacks and buries them instead - afterwards we see that the body bag is empty. All of the scenes with the bear are good, but my favorite is one that just shows his feet walking through a dark forest. The flashbacks are done in an interesting way - the characters narrate previous scenes as they give their reports to Hal Holbrook. Also, don't miss the posters for "Mr. Spock's Music from Outer Space" and "Save the Alligator...Eat a Preppie". The score has some simple but effective synth cues here and there (as well as orchestral passages), but I'm guessing that these are from stock music, since there isn't a composer listed in the credits.

[1] It's actually the costume for the basketball team's mascot, which someone carelessly left on their Eames Lounge.
[2] This is perhaps the only horror film to open with a basketball game.
[3] The killer may or may not be a former student who has escaped from the local sanitarium. It makes me wonder if that idea started with Halloween or if it's simply an extension of an older urban legend...
[4] Sometimes the DJ likes to play these songs more than once.