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Release Date(s)1981 (May 13, 2014)
Studio(s)Shout!/Scream Factory (Code Red)
Final Exam, like a lot of horror movies from the 1980’s, is a slasher movie. This one in particular takes place on a college campus wherein the killer kills off the students one by one. And like any typical horror/comedy movie, all of the college kids walk, talk and act like high school kids and have no real concern for their education. This doesn’t matter much to horror fans though, and the film is now considered a cult classic.
Many people would consider Final Exam one of the better and smarter slasher movies to come out of the 80’s. It’s a movie that seems to be in on the joke a lot of the time. Not in a meta kind of way, but certainly a bit tongue-in-cheek. The dialogue is so terrible sometimes that you do begin to wonder if the people behind it intended it to be a bit of a romp. The odd thing about the movie though is that the unseen killer doesn’t even start bumping off characters until the last half hour of the movie. Not only that, but we never get a definitive answer as to who the person is that’s doing the killing and why. Not that it matters all that much, but it’s strange that they didn’t feel the need to explain the killer’s motivation. I suppose the idea is that we should know as little about the killer as the characters do, which is different.
The movie is pretty well put together though. It’s shot well and well-edited, and it’s one of the few 80’s slashers to not rely on heavy amounts of blood and gore. There is some, but nowhere near the amount that you would expect. I also think it’s funny that even though this is a big college campus, we only see a certain amount of characters and they’re the only ones to get killed. College is a big place and you would think that there would be more people around. I guess it must have been a bad year for enrollment. Anyways, Final Exam isn’t one of the best slasher movies you’re likely to see, but it’s one of the better ones for sure. It doesn’t feature a cadaver every ten minutes, but it does feature some interesting characters and a decent final act.
Final Exam on Blu-ray looks quite good, especially considering the vintage. There’s a pleasant grain structure with plenty of image detail on display and the color palette is also very good with some very nice skin tones, although not completely accurate. Blacks are good, albeit with some noticeable crush, and both contrast and brightness are at acceptable levels. I didn’t detect any signs of overzealous noise reduction or any other digital manipulations either. There isn’t a whole lot in the way of damage to the film, but it does feature some white specks throughout the presentation. The film’s audio selection, which is a single English Mono DTS-HD track, features a very well-balanced soundtrack. Dialogue is always clean and clear, and both score and sound effects are well-adjusted within the proceedings. It doesn’t feature a whole lot of dynamic range, but it’s a very clean-sounding track and more than enough to satisfy. There are also subtitles in English for those who might need them.
As for the extras selection, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot, but they all carry over from the previous Code Red (BCI) DVD release of the film. There’s an audio commentary with actors Joel S. Rice, Cecile Bagdadi and Sherry Willis-Burch with moderators Julia Marchese and Deron Miller, a trio of separate interviews with each of the actors previously mentioned, and the film’s original theatrical trailer. The Scorpion DVD release of the film also featured an audio commentary with producer Myron Meisel, which hasn’t been carried over to this release. So it’s not much, but at least it’s something.
Scream Factory’s re-release of Final Exam on Blu-ray is a welcome addition to any high definition horror fan’s library if they didn’t have it already. And even if they do, this would be a terrific upgrade. Both the video and audio quality are exceptionally good, and even though the extras are light, they’re satisfactory.
- Tim Salmons