The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Final Exam

Final Exam holds a unique position in the annuls of '80s horror. Some people believe it's quite possibly the dullest slasher movie ever made. Others maintain a fondness for its oddly disjointed story, stilted performances, and moments of absurdity. In other words, it's a “so bad it's good” thing in some circles. Personally, I'm in the first camp, but if you're in the second, Scream Factory's new Blu-Ray release will be a reason to rejoice, as it comes in a new high-def transfer taken from the original camera negative. In other words, it looks amazing for a low-budget exploitation flick.

Originally released in June of 1981, Final Exam takes place at tiny Lanier College. During finals week, one of the school's fraternities pulls a cruel prank, staging a mass shooting on campus. Once this is revealed as a joke, most students laugh it off. What they don't know is that a deranged killer is about to show up and start shedding blood for real. The requisite “good girl” character is Courtney (Cecile Bagdadi), a studious young woman pined for by the equally-requisite nerd, Radish (Joel S. Rice). Radish is obsessed with serial killers, so to find himself in the proximity of one is, from his point of view, as ironic as it is terrifying.

Final Exam is unusually talky for a slasher film. In fact, it takes a full 55 minutes before the first real horror moment arrives. Up until that point, the movie seems unsure whether it wants to be a soap opera set on a college campus or a goofy comedy. We see one character get hazed by a frat, and several others conflict with local law enforcement officials. There are also plenty of hookups, including one between a teacher and a student. When the killer begins to strike – finally! - the killings are clumsily staged and not especially scary. Then again, that's part of the appeal for some fans.

Whether you like the movie or not, Scream Factory's extras are kind of cool. There is a full-length audio commentary that reunites cast members Bagdadi, Rice, and Sherry Willis-Burch. As you can imagine, they have lots of amusing memories to share about the film's production. Each of them also gets an individual interview segment in the bonus features section, where they tell us what they're up to now and what it was like making an '80s schlock picture. The film's original theatrical trailer is also included.

Again, Final Exam looks really good in the new high-def transfer. It's not really my cup of tea, but if you're in the cult of fans, this is a Blu-Ray you're most definitely going to dig.

For more information on this title, please visit the Scream Factory website.

Final Exam is rated R for violence, language, and sexuality/nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

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