Theme Song: Horror Movie Music (not the good kind).
Interesting Dated References: Dead bodies being stuffed in lockers that then fall out when you walk past them.
Best Line: None
Social Context: Similar to other slasher films of the era, the overall social justification for this film seems to be to solidify in the minds of much younger children that if they have sex, take pills, or go outside, they will be killed very poorly.
Summary: Sometimes people underestimate the number of “slasher-type” films of the early 80s. Halloween and the original Friday The 13th were such hits that a majority of the time studios were green-lighting slasher films without even having a script completed. The locations and plots were interchangeable: revenge killing of teens in forest, revenge killing of teens in college, random killing of teens on boat, random killing of teens in high school, the list and possible scenarios go on and on. Final Exam falls into the “random killing of teens in college” category, following the formula as expected. There’s one slight variation here, though, because they never even make you care who the fuck the killer is. It isn’t a student, and they don’t even try to make you think it is. It isn’t a former teacher or anything, and they never try to make you think that either. It’s just a guy killing some people. I guess in that regard it’s a little more realistic.
In the opening scene we see two non-nude college students get slaughtered (insinuated) while making out in the back of their car. Then, get this, 56 minutes go by without a single killing related to the slasher and I’m not exaggerrating. During this time, though, we meet a colorful cast of characters including football jock “Wildman,” resident homosexual nerd “Radish,” as well as boring main girl Courtney, her hot-ass (no shit) roommate Lisa, and a bunch of other guys that look like douche bags. All the students are taking their final exams. For some reason each character makes a point to mention how “no one is on campus.” Yet Wildman and his frat buddies insist on staging a mock shooting and kidnapping. The sole purpose of this prank is so the sheriff can come to campus and say, “You kids need to stop goofing around and only call when there is a real emergency.” Very creative. Goddamn, this Lisa chick is super hot and she’s wearing those hot-ass 1978 bike shorts.
This whole time we are shown ominous cuts of a mysterious black van:
Not to be confused with Wildman’s brown van. Wildman is insane. After his final, he went outside and threw his pencil. A perfectly good pencil, and dude just fucking whipped it into the air. And he’s so crazy he has his name on his football jersey on both sides:
Fuck, that’s serious business. So, despite finals being in full swing, again we are given the impression no one is really around. But still the frat boys headed up by Wildman insist on hazing a pledge, and again with the creepy guy in the van all the fucking time. You guys probably think I’m being all smarmy and shit, but the guy playing Wildman and the character of Wildman is really good. He sprays deodorant in his mouth and then gargles with Southern Comfort. That’s pretty fucking good.
This is all a fucking side note, but it’s really hard to figure out the mystery of who is the guy playing Wildman. According to IMDB.COM, he was played by Ralph Brown who was born in 1918 and died in 1997. But clearly the guy playing Wildman is in his mid to late 20s. Obviously the wrong Ralph Brown is credited. There are 8 other Ralph Browns listen on the website, but I can’t figure out which one he is. Whatever.
Okay, so after a fucking hour, the pledge who was tied up to a tree is killed! And not only is he killed but he’s stabbed by a guy who apparently cannot flex his elbow when he is stabbing people and has to do it totally stiff arm style. In fact, that is how this guy kills everyone, total stiff arm stabbing motion. Let’s not forget that we’ve been given no information about who the fuck this guy is. He’s just a guy in a van. No revenge motive, no supernatural element, just a totally random guy killing people. It’s hard to care about anything when you are just watching some random guy kill some random people. I bet when Wildman gets it I start crying, though.
Oh fuck, so Wildman goes and tries to steal a bunch of “speed” from the coach. While doing so, the killer chases him. Wildman goes into a ‘roid rage and tries to defend himself but is unsuccessful. He is killed by a weight machine.
RIP Wildman, we’ll put your name up on the wall now that you are dead and gone. Hey guess what, now that Wildman is dead I’ll stop talking about it.
Moving on, since they wasted 3/4 of the movie with useless character development all the characters die in the span of about 15 minutes. This makes for extremely uneventful deaths and after-effects of said deaths. The hot-ass roommate Lisa does get naked, if you care or are into seeing chicks naked that were never in any other movies. After that, the main nerd girl Courtney runs around for another 15 minutes avoiding the killer, whose face we now are seeing in almost every shot. But remember, it’s fucking meaningless because we do not care or have a clue who the fuck he is. After the incessant chasing, when she is finally cornered, the football coach barges in with his bow and arrow and shoots an arrow at the guy. Apparently he forgot his quiver because after he does this, he just charges the killer guy. A sensible option would have been to bring more than one arrow. Sure enough, the killer stabs him with the arrow. Then Courtney kills the killer and she just starts sobbing, alone. Credits roll.
Through the whole thing we never know who the guy was, why he was killing, or if he had a personal interest in the college. I’m not saying that’s a necessary part of a slasher film, but what the fuck.
Poster and Box Art: The above art was all I could find on this movie. It probably never had an overseas release, so all we get is the one poster. Not that it’s a bad poster, though. It has that vibe that says, “I am a slasher movie that is a rip-off of a bunch of other slasher movies.” In fact, the silhouette of the killer thing was in full swing at this point and Final Exam takes full advantage, especially since we never even find out or care who the killer is. The Beta box I have is shitty and has some lame screen capture from the final stabbing.
Availability: Used VHS on eBay. No DVD planned in the foreseeable future.