Thursday, September 15, 2016

Final Exam (1981)

Director: Jimmy Huston

Writer: Jimmy Huston

Composer: Gary S. Scott

Starring: Cecile Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice, Ralph Brown, DeAnna Robbins, Sherry Willis-Burch, John Fallon, Terry W. Farren, Timothy L. Raynor, Sam Kilman, Don Hepner, Mary Ellen Withers, Elijah Christopher Perry

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Some pass the test...God Help The Rest!!!

Plot: A psycho killer shows up on college campus to slash up pretty co-eds and dumb jocks.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

For an early 80s slasher movie, you can do much better.  It's not boring (good thing) but the kills are light (no gore and WAY too far apart) and you have to wait over an hour for the few seconds of nudity (it was nice but it's too little, too late).  These are staples of the genre.  The story is average so what you need to help that is to boos the fun factor with gore, creative kills, T&A and some sense of fun.  Now, Huston directed the film quite well.  What's lacking is everything else story-wise.  There are a lot of characters and Huston juggles them well.  There's no confusion about who any of them are and the actors do a good job.  The picture opens with a double murder (only one onscreen) and then it's almost an hour before the next one.  WTF?  I know, right?  The school attack early on is the best thing about the movie.  That was really neat but the real meat of the horror (kills) is in the last half hour and a lot of the kills are offscreen.  Yeah.  Some of them are justified (like when someone happens upon a body and it scares them) but, with everything else, that ends up being something you put in the con column.  The thing is, after all that you have to sit through, you feel like you deserved better.  It's a professional-looking production.  The director went on to write RUNNING SCARED (1986) (I LOVE THAT MOVIE) and the cinematographer and editor did some things (nothing of real note that I could see).  The problem really is in the script. This minor looks great but there's not much meat in it and not much of an attempt at scares.  The only one that comes close is probably the cliche of the killer won't die when there's no way he could've survived what happened to him.  It's OK but I can't see anyone wanting to watch this more than once.  I almost always get excited when I come across an early 80s horror flick, hoping I'll find a hidden gem that's alluded me for more than thirty years.  At least there's some fun in the anticipation of discovery.

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