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directed by Jimmy Houston
USA 1981

 

It's final exam week at Lanier College and the campus is rocked by a school shooting. Of course, it's all an elaborate prank - which would not go over well today - by the Gamma fraternity and the sheriff is none too happy about being called out to investigate. As the day goes on, the escalating pranks and hazings distract everyone from the presence of a hulking, knife-wielding killer intent on thinning out the student body. That's really all there is to FINAL EXAM, a Motion Picture Marketing concoction, quite literally. MPM (who also brought us SAVAGE STREETS and distributed CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD and several other pieces of gory, unrated schlock) created the film's advertising campaign first so that the film's script could be tailored to their exploitation needs. Writer/director Jimmy Houston (MY BEST FRIEND IS A VAMPIRE) and producer Myron Meisel (film critic for FOCUS! magazine) were instructed by MPM's money-man John Chambliss that the script could contain anything they wanted so long as every scene was tailored after scenes that had appeared in at least two successful examples of the slasher genre. Paradoxically, MPM wanted to reach a much wider audience with their slasher film, including younger teens, so that meant conceptually eschewing much of the expected explicit gore and nudity (a bit of nudity was included strictly to receive the required R-rating, and a more lingering take was included in the trailer as a commercial hook). The killer has no identity and no motivation not because the film's geek character Radish (Joel S. Rice) states that people get killed for no reason every day, but because the writers thought that explanations in most of these slasher films were terrible. Although slickly shot (on Earl Owensby's Shelby, North Carolina studio where James Cameron shot THE ABYSS years later), scored, and edited, the film lingers too long on soapy exposition (about twenty minutes of introduction spread out over forty or so minutes following the opening murder and frat prank) before the killer finally decides to start slashing (mostly off-screen).

Eric Cotenas

Poster

Theatrical Release: 5 June 1981 (USA)

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DVD Review: Scorpion Releasing (Katarina's Nightmare Theater) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:29:42
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.16 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Scorpion Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Playable with optional Katarina's Nightmare Theater Intro and Closing Remarks
• Audio Commentary with producer Myron Meisel, moderated by Katarina Leigh Waters
• Interview with actress Cecil Bagdadi (4:3; 3:26)
• Interview with actor Joel S. Rice (4:3; 6:30)
• Interview with actress Sherry Willis Burch (4:3; 4:41)
• Theatrical Trailer (16:9; 1:30)
• Trailers for HUMONGOUS, THE DEVIL WITHIN HER, NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT, THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, THE
• INCUBUS, and THE PYX
• Promo Reel featuring clips from HUMONGOUS, NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT, FINAL EXAM, HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW,
• INCUBUS, THE DEVIL WITHIN HER, REVENGE, TERROR, THE CARPENTER, SATAN'S SLAVE, SATAN'S BLOOD, HUMAN
• EXPERIMENTS, AMERICAN NIGHTMARE, and THE PYX (4:3; 2:10)

DVD Release Date: September 20th, 2011
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

FINAL EXAM was initially released on DVD by BCI. That edition is now out of print. I have not seen that edition but Scorpion Releasing's "Katarina's Nightmare Theater" DVD touts a brand new high definition transfer, and the attractive progressive, dual-layer, anamorphic image is free of edge enhancement (if only the script and acting were as slick as the cinematography). The Dolby Digital mono audio is in very good condition (sound was reportedly problematic on the previous edition).

The BCI disc featured a cast audio commentary that has not been carried over here; rather, Scorpion has produced a new commentary track with producer Myron Meisel, moderated by host Katarina Leigh Waters. Meisel has a vivid recollection of the shoot, and is refreshingly candid in his remarks about the cast and crew, some on-set bad behavior, multiple cast and crew injuries (mostly from inexperience), and the illegal acquisition of a payphone for a shot when the on-location prop one broke. The three cast interviews from the BCI release have been carried over here. Besides several trailers for upcoming Katarina's Nightmare Theater titles, but a clip reel features bits from those same titles as well as some other surprise upcoming releases.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

 




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