Final Exam (1981)

DVD Cover (Scorpion Releasing)
Horror, Slasher Film
Jimmy Huston Jimmy Huston
Cecile Bagdadi Cecile Bagdadi
Joel S. Rice Joel S. Rice
Ralph Brown Ralph Brown
DeAnna Robbins DeAnna Robbins
Sherry Willis-Burch Sherry Willis-Burch

4.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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In a small college in North Carolina, only a select few students are left to take mid terms. But, when a killer strikes, it could be everyone's final exam. --IMDb
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Review by Nirrad
Added: October 23, 2008
Who doesn't love a cheap 1980's Slasher now and then? I actually stumbled across this movie by accident when making my purchase for "Mother of Tears." I thought to myself "Hey, this sounds pretty good," so a few weeks after it was released, I made an order for "Final Exam" and watched it the day it arrived. I actually had unusually high expectations for this movie by just the brilliant cover alone, but unfortunately it fell a little short of my expectations.

"Final Exam" follows your basic Slasher scenario that we have seen countless times. It is near the end of the semester at Lanier College, and everyone is completing their final exams and are eagerly waiting for school to finally end. We are introduced to a group of students who all have their personalities. We have our main male lead Radish (Joel S. Rice) as the awkward, paranoid, and possibly homosexual nerd. Courtney (Cecile Bagdadi) as the shy, yet smart brunette with good intentions. Wildman (Ralph Brown) as the psychotic jock who constantly picks on poor Radish and of course the rest of your typical characters who aren't worth mentioning. One day Wildman and his crew decide to pull a fake terrorist attack so that his friend Mark (John Fallon) can cheat on the final exam while the teachers are distracted by the prank. Poor Radish doesn't realize that it was a prank, and calls the local sheriff. Upon arrival, the sheriff finds out that it was all a sick joke and threatens to not return again even if there was a real problem. The students just laugh at his remarks, but unfortunately for them, someone on campus has the intent of killing everyone he encounters. The students eventually get picked off one by one, so Radish decides to call the sheriff again. Recognizing that it is yet again Radish calling, the sheriff ignores his plea and hangs up. It is now up to the students to survive on their own.

Before popping "Final Exam" in, the one thing I was hoping for was gore, but there was essentially none to be found in this movie at all. Most of the deaths are off screen, and what is shown is nothing more than what you would see in a PG-13 movie. As to why this movie is rated R is beyond me. There is some strangulation which I find just lame, and of course stabbings, but it's all very tame. I would have figured in a time when "Friday The 13th" was huge that this movie would at least be on the same page in terms of violence. Can't win them all I guess.

According to some of the interviews on the DVD, writer and director Jimmy Huston didn't want to follow the basic Slasher formula. Apparently he wanted to try something new by focusing more on the characters rather than the kills or the killer. But the movie still comes off as one big cliché. By having the movie focus more on the characters, it forces the movie to be so slow paced that you will be checking the remaining time often if you have a short attention span. Fortunately for Jimmy, some of the characters are actually interesting, and the long break between kills is not as bad as it could have been, but it is still a drag.

During the movie, it was actually interesting to see what some of the characters would do next. The side story involving a pledge was actually pretty intriguing, and the outcome is hilarious, yet weird. Speaking of weird, it seemed like this movie had a lot of gay undertones throughout. I'm almost quite certain that Joel S. Rice is gay in real life. His on screen moments with female characters are quite awkward at times. There is also a scene when Wildman is holding a student, he seems to be whispering into his ear and is on the verge of kissing his neck and ear. The whole scene was pretty uncomfortable.

I was actually quite impressed with the acting in this movie. Most, if not all of the cast were introduced with this movie. The acting wasn't outstanding or anything, but seeing how this is their first role; I find that impressive and it beats a lot of performances found in other low budget 80's Slasher flicks.

Overall, "Final Exam" is a solid Slasher with its hits and misses. I just expected so much from this movie, and because of that I wasn't able to enjoy it as much as I should have. But there is definitely some enjoyment to be found here, but don't expect anything amazing.

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