Directed by Jimmy Huston [Other horror films: My Best Friend Is a Vampire (1987)]
If there’s anything Final Exam did, it solidified my hate of fraternities.
This is a decently classic slasher that took me until now to finally sit down and watch, and while the kills were decent, I will admit to being disappointed by some aspects of the movie (especially in regards to the killer).
Generally, I enjoy the atmosphere here, which feels not too dissimilar from other slashers of this time period. It’s not great, but it’s decent, especially since we have a few positive characters here (mostly Lisa and Radish, but Janet was okayish also).
Cecile Bagdadi only has this movie in her IMDb credits, which is a bit sad, as I think she does decent here as the main girl, if not maybe a bit generic. Still, her conversations with Joel S. Rice (Radish) were somewhat touching, and held a bit of depth. Otherwise, there wasn’t much in the way of characters that inspired me.
The whole frat thing just bugged the hell out of me, though. I know that this is from an entirely different era, but that prank at the beginning (which was entirely beyond the pale) should have gotten them thrown in jail at the very least, and they never get better, and harassing pledges (stripping one down and tying them to a tree, while shoving ice down their underwear, is another act that should get them thrown in jail), which is done to this day, is just disgusting.
I can ignore the stupid frat guys, though, and get to my real problem, which was the killer. Having never seen this before, I was expecting something with a bit more mystery as opposed to The Slumber Party Massacre, but even that movie gave a lot more explanation of the killer than we got here. We literally got nothing – not a name, motive, nada. Obviously, if the kills are decent and the characters are fine, maybe I could let that slide, but it’s not like the movie was stellar in either of those departments.
I’m not going to go as far as to say Final Exam was a failure, just that I was expecting a slasher of a higher caliber, and this seemed to bring little worth mentioning to the table.
4 thoughts on “Final Exam (1981)”
Mystery is usually at the core of the better slasher movies. Even in something like Halloween, where you know who the killer is from the start, there is still a heavy aura of mystery, because Michael Myers is so inscrutable. I’d have preferred that the killer in Final Exam wear a mask, but he’s still reasonably effective. I could have done without some of the frat house antics, as well as the fact that several of the ‘cast’ members were clearly not actors. But I’d rank this as about the 11th or 12th best slasher movie I’ve seen, largely because of the deserted campus atmosphere(reminded me of my own college, very late on a Friday afternoon or evening). And the Final Girl elevates the film substantially. One of the advantages of a good heroine is that males in the audience tend to feel somewhat protective of the ones they like. This girl would be in my personal top 3 slasher movie heroines.
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