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Final Exam (1981)

  Tags: 80's, 80's slasher, final exam, Jimmy Huston, pranks, students

Your rating: None Average: 5.7 (7 votes)
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Jimmy Huston
89 minutes
Cecile Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice, Ralph Brown, DeAnna Robbins, Sherry Willis-Burch, John Fallon, Terry W. Farren, Timothy L. Raynor, Sam Kilman

I'm not sure why a town like Shelby, North Carolina would consider its town motto to be the city of pleasant living when it has historically hosted some unpleasant films. The small southern city was home to the rather disastrous clunker "House of Death" in 1982 as well as the subject movie at hand, the dismal "Final Exam", released on an undeserving public in 1981.

Perhaps it is the low cost approach, the scenic views from historic Gardner-Webb University or just plain dumb luck. Either excuse is no excuse for this terrible and predictable venture in the scholastic slasher school vein of introduce'em, prank'em and Kill'em (ie "Class Reunion Massacre", "Night School" and "Cutting Class").

No good film could possibly begin with the opening lines of "Not here, not now, not in the car...do you hear that?". From that enlightening moment of backseat dialogue comes a barrage of nonsense drivel through seventy minutes of absolute nothingness. Sure, we get the normal cast of characters...a light-in-the-loafers geek who plays to every girl's "you are just like my brother" sensitive side...the normal college jocks that want to score test copies, babes and of course one or two obnoxious pranks...the obligatory nice girl...and a few stupid administrative adults to show how smart the dumb kids really are.

The movie is shot in some dark scenes with very little left to the imagination. Writer-director Jimmy Huston (he did nothing noteworthy before, during or after this film) relies on long camera angles, extremely painful and extended scenes of students walking across dark gym floors or hallways and the ever present influence from The Shape himself, Michael Myers. This unknown killer uses the snail stalk to outpace the prey, normally with back to the camera and hand and knife in high arch.

There is one notable scene that shows the unknown killer incorporating some rare slasher judo and martial arts, a big positive in a movie that simply refuses to go above and beyond. The film clocks in just shy of ninety minutes and truthfully the last nine minutes are pretty suspenseful and worth a fast-forward-to-the-end-approach. Beyond that...well lay this one beside the above mentioned beer coasters and move on to the true classics of the genre. 

If bad dialogue, horrible pranks and long extended scenes of students walking are your film "musts", then by all means this is your "Citizen Kane".

Posted on September 6, 2009 - 7:16pm | EC