Final Exam (1981)
Review by Jude Felton
It makes me chuckle when I read about fans complaining about the over-saturation of “found footage” style movies, which are de rigueur in modern day cinema. These folk obvious weren’t around in the early 1980’s, when slasher flicks rained from the skies like a biblical plague. The real difference though, is that the slasher flicks had far better artwork, snappier taglines and above all most were damned entertaining.
This brings us to Final Exam, a film which those damned fine folk at Scream Factory have resurrected from the grave to bring to a new audience. Initially released in 1981, Final Exam doesn’t have the legacy and fame of such films as The Burning, The Prowler or even The Mutilator, but hopefully with this release it will bring it to a wider audience. It doesn’t break any rules, or even take the slasher flick in any new direction. Hell, it’s especially derivative, but it is also a damned good time.
The plot, if you need it, follows the last few days of school of a handful of students at Lanier College. The final exams (oh yeah, baby!) are coming up and pranks are afoot. However, in a nearby college, and pre-opening credits, a young couple is murdered, and it seems the killer is heading their way. Simple, straightforward and to the point.
Where Final Exams possibly differs from many other slashers though, is that you don’t know the whys and wherefores’ of the killer. In fact, a good majority of the film focuses on the students; almost to the point you forget you are watching a slasher flick. This gives the film time to help develop a bond between the characters and the audience. Yes, you will get every stereotype imaginable, in terms of the cast, but you also get to know them as characters. Then they die.
Final Exam is certainly an incredibly enjoyable and, dare I say, pleasant slice of early 80’s horror, and I really got a kick out of watching it. It really isn’t all that gory, or violent, in comparison to many others, but so the hell what? The film’s a rooting tooting good time.
With this Blu-ray release Scream Factory have done their usual top-class job in presenting the film. The picture is surprisingly clean and sharp, the audio is damned good, and if I did have any problems at all it would only be that I felt the film was a little dark in places; nothing to take away from the enjoyment, and still a damned sight better than any VHS or DVD that you are likely to see of this film.
In terms of extras, you get an audio commentary, some interviews and a trailer, but to be honest I would have still been happy if this was bare-bones. I’m always happy to see these old gems get a new lease of life, and this is another Scream Factory release that you NEED to add to your collection.
Final Exam is released by Scream Factory on May 13th.