Final Exam

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos




Horror Film Aesthetics

Horror Film Festivals and Awards

Vampire Nation

Pentagon Possessed

Cost of Freedom

Manhattan Sharks

Halloween Candy

Hollywood Witches

Short Works




Film Festival Director

Editorial Services

Media Appearances

Horror Film Reviews



Horror Film Aesthetics

Communist Vampires

Horror Film Festivals and Awards



Business Satire

Nicolae Ceausescu

Commuist Vampires

Stalinist Zombies

L'Internationale Song




Final Exam (1981 dir: Jimmy Huston; cast: 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)





I first saw Final Exam in the 1980s at the now defunct Continental Theater on Austin Street, in Forest Hills, NY. Back then the poster's tag line was: "They survived four years of college, but will they survive ... the Final Exam!"

I thought it was okay slasher film. I later bought a copy on Beta and watched it again every five or six years, albeit Final Exam loses its appeal over time. Before writing this review in 2011, I rented it on DVD from the library, and yes, Final Exam is a bad film.

Why do I watch it? As a hardcore horror fan, I'm often in the mood for a poor horror film that I've seen several times, to a new film of another genre.

That said, Final Exam is one of the more boring of the 1980s slasher films. It opens with the slasher killing a college couple in a car. Then a prank killing. Then ... nothing happens. Not until we're nearly 55 minutes into the film.

That's too long for nothing to happen. Yet for the film's first two thirds, Final Exam focuses on the hijinks of some nondescript college kids. The Slut, the Ditsy Girl, the Good Girl, the Nerdy Guy, and two Frat Jocks. They're not interesting; their dialog and situations are pedestrian (e.g., frat initiation pranks, stealing a test paper, etc.).

After 55 minutes, the killings resume and maintain a fast pace until the end. But that's too long to wait for the body count to mount, unless you have an interesting story or characters, which Final Exam lacks.



Even worse, the slasher is boring. One of the most nondescript slashers I've ever seen, right down there with that slasher from He Knows You're Alone, and with even less motivation.

And we see his face. Bad move. A strong slasher should be enigmatic, not nondescript. Jason and Myers wear masks.

Final Exam's slasher is a pudgy, silent guy in his late 20s or early 30s. We learn nothing about him. Not even a news report about an escape asylum patient. The Nerdy Guy says anyone can wake up one day and decide to kill, so maybe the slasher's ordinariness is intentional, but it doesn't work.

Final Exam mistakenly violates the mask rule, but it follows other slasher film rules. The slasher has superhuman strength, easily killing a bigger frat guy. There's also a Last Girl. (It's the Good Girl, of course.)



I don't know why the DVD is so expensive. The transfer is decent, but not perfect. Sometimes the film jiggles, and there are occasional dirty spots.

Final Exam was shot on North Carolina's E.O. Studios, which also gave us House of Death.

DVD Special Features include interviews with three of the actors, which is nice.

But don't overpay. Hold off if current DVD prices are high. Final Exam is not an historic or seminal slasher film, nor even a very good one. Only slasher film completists will enjoy it to any degree.

"Communist Vampires" and "" trademarks are currently unregistered, but pending registration upon need for protection against improper use. The idea of marketing these terms as a commodity is a protected idea under the Lanham Act. 15 U.S.C. s 1114(1) (1994) (defining a trademark infringement claim when the plaintiff has a registered mark); 15 U.S.C. s 1125(a) (1994) (defining an action for unfair competition in the context of trademark infringement when the plaintiff holds an unregistered mark).font>