final exam video cover
2 stars   Cheese Rating: 50% Fiesty Fromage!

"Some may pass the test...
God help the rest."

directed by: Jimmy Huston
starring: Cecile Bagdadi, Joel Rice

(back of video blurb):

       "Exam week at a small college campus is coming to a close. The isolation of the almost empty school is eerie and uncomfortable.

       At noon, an ominous black van quietly arrives on campus and soon after, one by one, the students fall prey to the stealthy knife-weilding intruder. One pretty girl is destined for a most terrifying experience- trapped by the killer high above the campus.

       A tense and often savage thriller with a stunning climax as the girl pits her wits and her courage against the psychotic killer"

choice dialogue:

"I'd like to talk about something cheery"...
"What, like homicidal maniacs?"...
"Anything but chemistry!"

slash with panache?

       Not a bad little dorm slasher this one.

       The movie starts by a lake, at mid-night, a couple necking in a car. She's getting nervous; its dark and she would rather be watching the ducks... (true!). He tells her there is nothing to worry about, they should get down to some backseat hi-jinks. Well, can you guess what happens next?....You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see it coming.... A loon with a knife leaps onto the roof of the car and starts to slash and hack his way to the screaming teens. He pulls the boy out and dispatches him on the bonnet. The girl screams....the opening credits roll.

       The double murder is enthusiastically discussed by students at nearby Lanier college, as is another recent dorm murder spree. They pontificate about the prospect of a student hating psychotic stalking the halls of academia, could they be next?....Hmmm, I wonder?!... One of the students is weedy 'Radish', who loves to discuss mass killers like Charles Whitman and has posters of THE CORPSE GRINDERS and THE TOOLBOX MURDERS on his bedroom wall.dead teen! A horror nerd who seems to be the perfect template for the character 'Randy', in SCREAM (1996). Now, if that film did borrow the idea for that one character, well, FINAL EXAM owes more than a little to John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN (1978). Most of the stalk 'n' slashers from this period were greatly influenced by that film, but FINAL EXAM goes as far to lift whole scenes; the killer hiding in the trees under virginal final-girl's window, a black van gliding after walking students. Not to mention the soundtrack, the tinkly electronic keyboards- Carpenter should have sued! Unfortunately, the final-girl here is no Jamie-Lee- although she is reading 'An Introduction to Abnormal Psychology', which you would have thought would have set her in good stead against the mad killer who chases her through the deserted dorm near the films' climax. The killer is no Michael Myer's either, apart from the fact that his actions are seemingly motiveless. No attempt is made to hide his identity- he has none. Just some hulking bloke in a green army jacket clenching a bowie knife. There is one fairly good scene with a dumb-waiter and one really good jump scare, but gore-hounds beware- the movie is virtually bloodless. And the first half is bogged down with much fraternity prankster bull-shit.

       But thankfully, despite, or perhaps because of the glaring similarities to HALLOWEEN, FINAL EXAM does, in its closing half hour provide the goods. In no way is it comparable to Carpenter's masterpiece, but it works- in a cheap-jack way.

BODYCOUNT 11  bodycount!   female:8 / male:3

       1) Male teen stabbed to death (on bonnet of car)
       2) Female teen killed in car (unseen)
       3) Male teen stabbed to death
       4) Female teen killed (unseen)
       5) Male teen strangled on weight lifting equipment
       6) Male teen impaled on knife
       7) Male teen stabbed to death
       8) Middle aged male found dead (throat slit?)
       9) Female teen stabbed to death
      10) Middle aged aged male impaled on arrow
      11) Male stabbed to death