Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


FINAL EXAM (1981). Written and directed by Jimmy Huston.

Final Exam is one of a great many movies cobbled together after the twin successes of Halloween and Friday the 13th. On a college campus only a few students remain to take finals, and a stalker is on the loose killing them -- a la Jason Voorhees -- without rhyme or reason. Aside from a murder scene right at the beginning, there are no killings for 55 minutes, with the first hour almost completely devoted to the comparatively dull goings-on of some students. Some moronic frat boys stage a massacre with assault weapons (summoning up later images of Columbine) as a practical joke, and you have to wait and wait -- and wait -- until these a-holes finally get fricasseed. The last half hour has most of the murders, which are done adequately if without any particular inventiveness. The film is low-budget, but professional looking, even if most of the cast are amateurs, talented and untalented alike. DeAnna Robbins is spirited as Lisa, who gets good grades by sleeping with her teachers, and Sherry Willis-Burch makes an attractive Janet. Of the guys, Terry W. Farren is appealing as Gary, the helpless Gamma House pledge who is dating Janet, as is Joel S. Rice as Radish, the somewhat nerdy, possibly gay character who shows more internal strength than guys twice his size. Most of the movie comes off less a slasher film than an unfunny Porky's variation, and there is no final twist or even motive for the killings such as revenge -- the killer is never named. The poster apes the one for Friday the 13th, and the musical score reminds one of Halloween. Jimmy Huston also directed a couple of films starring Earl Owensby, the low-budget filmmaker and actor.

Verdict: Rather poor stalk-and-slash feature. *1/2.

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