College life can be grueling enough without the added bonus of a deranged psycho wearing a bear mascot costume chasing you around the campus...homemade knives acting as "claws," outstretched for blood.
Also known as The Scaremaker, this 1983 slasher directed by Robert Duebel is distinguished by a lively and enthusiastic cast.
There's energy to spare - and the soundtrack, featuring original golden oldies including Yummy, Yummy, Yummy, Do You Believe In Magic, Summer In the City and Hanky Panky, is a nice departure for this kind of film.
At Weston Hill Sanitarium, an inmate's body is found hanging in his cell. Dickie Cavanaugh's sister retrieves his body and hands it over to two men to bury. But while digging the ditch, the men are murdered and tossed into it.
The students at Dewitt University are in a festive mood. The basketball team, led by Teddy Ratliff (James Carroll), have won a game and a costume party is planned for that evening.
Barney, the kindly cafeteria waitress (Rutanya Alda) is thrilled for them. Unfortunately, the mood of Pete "Maniac" Krizaniac (Mart McChesney) is somewhat dampened by the fact that his girlfriend Leslie (Lois Robbins) has just dumped him.
The story of Dickie Cavanaugh circulates at the party. Apparently, he killed his girlfriend in a jealous rage and was sent to the asylum. Nobody is aware of his recent suicide.
Mike Pryor (David Holbrook) gets into a fight with his girl Sheila (Lauren-Marie Taylor) when he finds her flirting with Michael Benson (Mathew Dunn), the team mascot.
Meanwhile, Lynn Connors (Julia Montgomery) is upset to see that her beau Teddy has an interest in Dawn Sorenson (Suzanne Barnes). When the festivities have ended, Benson is killed by someone who then steals his bear costume.
The following morning, the campus cop Jim "Mac" MacVey (Hal Holbrook) has a little talk with Pryor about the commotion he caused at the party...and tells him that his daughter was killed by someone like him. In fact, she was the person who was murdered by Dickie.
A scavenger hunt sponsored by DJ Charlie Kaiser (Larry Mintz) of WDVX, is scheduled for that evening. The killer has snuck into Charlie's files to take a peak at the locations of the hiding spots - and prepares for a night of carnage. He places four knives into a paw of the bear costume for maximum damage.
Jane (Laura Summer) is the next victim. Her body is found by her close friend Kathy (Carrick Glenn)...who is killed as well. The psycho phones the DJ after each murder - but Charlie has no idea what the calls are about. However, the disc jockey soon reports the "creepy" calls to Mac.
Sheila, believing that Benson is wearing the mascot costume, is lured into a house near the pond and murdered. Mac himself gets a call from the killer, who claims to be Dickie Cavanaugh.
When Mac calls the sanitarium, he finds out that his daughter's killer was found dead in his cell and that his body was taken away by a sibling.
While searching for one of the items in the hunt, Leslie is murdered in an attic. Lynn, unaware that Teddy is sleeping with Dawn at the moment, finds the body and hysterically phones Mac...who in turn orders Charlie to cancel the scavenger hunt.
The campus is now swarming with police and reporters. Pete, whose ex-girlfriend Leslie is among the victims, is questioned. Several accounts from people point the finger at Benson...whom Lynn indicates she saw leaving the building where she found Leslie's body. This suspicion is discounted when Benson's body is discovered.
Mac listens to a recording of the killer's voice. There is something strange about a quote he hears: "The twins are together again." In looking at newspaper accounts of his daughter's death, he notices a mention of a twin sister that Dickie had named Katie...and puts two and two together. The twin is an employee at the university under an assumed name.
Indeed, Katie is none other than Barney, the cafeteria waitress...who has been storing her brother's body in the freezer. Her identity is detected just before she has the opportunity to do away with both Teddy and Dawn.
Director Robert Duebel handles the fairly large cast with finesse. The novelty of the killer wearing a bear costume, silly as it sounds on paper, is actually more fun than it should be.
Is Girls Nite Out the best the genre has to offer? Of course not. But if you desire an animated cast and kickass pop soundtrack, you get it here. Want silly adolescent behavior? Check out the scene in which a character farts in bed for his girlfriend's displeasure.
C'mon, you know this movie puts a smile on your face...