Monday, November 3, 2014

MR Final Exam

I already reviewed slasher films that took place on Halloween night, a Friday the 13th or even Christmas' eve.

Here's one taking place during the final exams week!

Friday the 13th series - Friday the 13th (2009)
Book One (Wildstorm) - Book TwoFriday the 13th (Avatar Press)
Jason vs Leatherface / Freddy vs Jason
Elm Street series - A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (WildStorm)A Nightmare on Elm Street (Avatar Press)
Halloween series - Halloween (2007) - HII (2009)
Halloween (Chaos! Comics)
One Good Scare - NightDance - 30 Years of TerrorThe First Death of Laurie Strode
Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 1 & 2
Pumpkinhead 1
Chucky series - Curse of Chucky / Chucky (Devil's Due Publishing)
Candyman series
 Re-Animator series
Hatchet 1
Hack/Slash: My First Maniac - Me Without You - Omnibus Vol. 1 - Friday the 31st
Series 1 (DDP)Hack/Slash Meets Zombies Vs Cheerleaders - Series 2 (Image)
Revival Vol. 1 - Vol. 2
Tucker & Dale / Cabin in the Woods
Darkman series
It's Alive series
Gremlins - Gremlins 2: The New BatchCritters seriesTremors series
The Faculty / James Gunn's Slither
 Troll 2
The Thing from Another WorldJohn Carpenter's The Thing
John Carpenter's Prince of DarknessJohn Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness
Jacob's LadderJohn Carpenter's The WardEvent Horizon
DeepStar Six / Leviathan / Lords of the Deep / The Evil BelowThe Abyss
Deep Blue Sea

Movie: Final Exam
Directed by Jimmy Huston
Release date 1981
Genre Slasher/horror film
Country USA

Directed by a little unknown name that shouldn't tell you much, Jimmy Huston, Final Exam is a pretty low budget 1981 slasher flick.

It was made right off this invasion of slasher films that was launched in the early 1980s.

Final Exam stars several names that shouldn't say much either to those familiar with the genre: Cecile Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice, DeAnna Robbins, Sherry Willis-Burch, Ralph Brown, John Fallon and Timothy Raynor.

But don't let that put you off.

Final exam is actually a pretty solid horror film. With a very nice slow build and good pacing.

And it turned great despite the film following on the success of all these early 80s slashers. It openly borrows some elements from the likes of Sean S. Cunningham' original Friday the 13th or John Carpenter's Halloween. Even so, Huston didn't want to just copy-paste what had been done at the time and he wanted to do something outside the norms of the genre at the time. As so there's very little actual "gore" or graphic elements in Final Exam.

It does follows the same basic rules and concepts and contains a few nods to those above inspirations.  But that is all. Final Exam is as much a slasher as a more classic horror film.

Our movie opens with a little prologue scene. It's a late night, two college kids are making out in an empty parking lot of some local school. When man suddenly jumps out the shadows and slice their throats!

The next day, at a different nearby college of Sleepy Lanier.

It's the end of the school semester. The week of the final exams. When students are either focuses on their holidays or passing with good grades. Saying their goodbyes and apparently some are just goofing around. In fact there's a school shooting that day... which turns out to be just an elaborate prank by the Gamma fraternity. To change a test results. A student calls the sheriff, and you've guessed it, he's not happy. These awful pranks have been dangerously escalating out of control.

We meet our students preparing their final week of tests as the vacation break is coming for most other classes already. This girl Courtney is studying very hard. Her roommate Lisa doesn't seem to have a care in the world. This douchey fraternity is having fun messing with this young pledge Gary, which doesn't please much his girlfriend Janet. Later than night Gary is left stuck to a tree by some annoying fraternity brothers. That's when the murderer that was stalking school decide to enter the scene... At nightfall, while Gary was waiting for his girlfriend to free him, he is stabbed to death by the mysterious killer!

Janet comes to rescue him, but she's too late! The killer ambushes her!

Next up is this fratboy they call "Wildman". Wildman wants to get the "pills" the coach confiscated from the students. He gets inside the gymnasium... and is attacked as well by the killer who corners him! And despite Wildman's hulking figure, the killer is really a pretty strong guy! He kills Wildman with a weight machine!

His friend Mark comes looking for him in the lockers... only to find his body stuffed inside a locker!

There's now left only a few remaining students on the premise of the school. The killer goes after  Radish, this book nerd who has a big fascination for serial killers (he kept talking about killers the entire first act of the film). After warning the only person actually studying in the entire school, Courtney, of these bizarre things happening around the campus, Radish decides to make a full inventory of the gym equipment has the coach asked him earlier.. Instead he finds the bodies! He tries to call the cops, but they won't listen because of all these pranks the fraternity's been pulling lately...  He runs back to the dorm rooms but is met by the killer there!

As Courtney returns back to her dorm she finds Radish's body she mistakes for a bad prank at first!  The campus is now completely abandoned!

Our final act is really just a chase scene through the entire campus and killing off what remaining living people there was left that night. Through the cafeteria, the kitchen and finally the campus tower.

The coach who was planning a late hunting trip that night comes looking for his friend the security guard. Her hears some screams and sees Courtney in danger. He tries to shoot the killer with a bow and arrow, but misses! The killer grabs the arrow in mid-air!

At the end of the night, only Courtney is left alive...

Final Exam is really better than you'd expect from a first glimpse. Better than your average slasher film from that time. Very decent in fact. The characters turn out to be more likable than you'd think and I really like the film's overall dark atmosphere.

This is a pretty scary and suspenseful horror film. With some great scenes (and one made even more shocking in the light of recent events nowadays as our grim reality caught on the films, what with these very real violent shootings on campus). 

The film is pretty scary. The lack of any real backstory, motivation or even clear identity for our killer makes things scarier in my eyes. Like Michael Myers was in the original Halloween film, before he turned out to be Jamie Lee Curtis' brother.

Here the "slasher killer" really is just a serial killer, which makes the whole film very frightening. He's basically only armed with a common butcher knife. He doesn't need no need silly mask or backstory.

At first the movie keep us in the doubt regarding the identity of the killer - it seems he could just be the psychotic Wildman. Or his scary psycho buddy Mark. Or that teacher the girl was waiting for. Or, heck, even the nerdy Radish at first. To keep in the tradition of the original Friday the 13th. Then we finally meet this guy... and he just appears to be "some guy". We never truly know his intentions, we only get some hints of an alluded possible backstory, no confirmations whatsoever. We're pretty much left hanging, things are left open to the interpretation of the viewer.

A slasher killer on a killing spree, going after dumb jocks and decent folks on a college campus.

We hear about how a girl died because of a sorority. How she committed suicide after the bullying and the fact she wasn't able to make it into this sorority club. The killer could possibly be her father or brother on a revenge spree, and that notion somehow works. I wonder if the director simply decided to cut it out or left things open on purpose.

And it's far more creepy this way. The idea of a real killer on the loose, makes this killer a real person, and the film much more effective this way with no clearly defined backstory. And it confirms what Radisch says earlier in the film: "serial killers exist". No need for the killer to be connected to a plot or characters, it's more frightening this way. He could possibly be going from college to college, but nothing is really explained.

The film features some pretty clever point of view shots, going for this voyeurism feel.

It's a fairly good, terrifying horror film and entertaining experience.

The music is kind of discrete. It was composed by a certain Gary S. Scott. Despite that, it's just like the film. It's nothing much to go on, but it's good and works great.

Overall, Final Exam is pretty solid all in all. And despite having a fairly modest original short theatrical run and success (on a very, very tiny budget, mind you), it is nowadays recognized for its cult status finally. As a matter of fact, Final Exam would even be referenced in the Scream series amongst others.

I'd say it doesn't have anything to shy away from the likes of the original Halloween, Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street in my opinion.

What stars like a generic fratboy comedy/teen comedy is actually a good thriller from the slasher exploitation of the 1980s. With very little actual "slashing" but it doesn't to. Just like the Carpenter's Halloween featured very little blood actually.

A serious killer with no mask, more realistic. And therefore scary. Once we get to see his face, we see he's just "a guy". We never get to know a thing about him (only what could possibly be a reason for his killing). He appears to just be some crazy madman who enjoys killing apparently! He needs no reason!

The rest of the characters feel a bit like stereotypes, but it work in this context. There's a jock, a fratboy, a blonde, a slut, a nerd and the final girl, this movie's own Laurie Strode.

Final Exam is a really good and decent low budget slasher flick. Recommended if you're a fan of horror films or the slasher genre.

I kind of wonder why it never received a proper sequel, I could really see this series picking up with another installment (either following with a supernatural element to the "slasher" or not).

This slasher flick taking place in a school setting would go on to inspire a similarly themed videogame, the direct title of a more action-oriented spinoff of the Obscure series to be precise.

I give it:
2.5 / 3 Necronomicons!

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