Stars – Cecile Bagdadi, Joel S. Rice, Willis Burch, Robert Raynor
Director – Jimmy Huston
Released by Shout Factory
Reviewed by Steven Ruskin
This is an odd entry in the plethora of slasher films that came out in the wake of Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980). Like the other formula slashers the cast is made up of young attractive folk, University students this time. We see right from the beginning that there is a killer on the loose targeting those students. However after that first off screen killing we have to wait an hour until there is any more mayhem. That leaves us with sixty minutes of melodrama to wade through. That last half hour is pretty light on the bloodshed and gore that drove many of the others in the genre. The creative kill factor is very low too. The imaginative and more bizarre stalk and kill sequences were consider de rigueur in these films. The most outlandish thing in this one is seeing the killer wrap the hand cables of an exercise machine around someone’s neck and then let go so the weight strangles him. I did not find it very funny nor were the characters all that interesting enough to merit their own hour long episode of hijinks.
There is a lot made of the Gamma fraternity and their initiation pranks. You know you have a weak slasher film when the most iconic image of the movie is the one with a boy tied to a tree and covered in shaving cream. The one thing that is different here is that we never find out any backstory or reason for the unknown killer to be killing. He’s got no mask or history. We see him from the back as a fleeting figure and then when we finally do get lots of good looks at him, he’s just some big guy.
There is a strong eighties vibe found here in the clothing, embarrassing hairstyles and affect of some of the cast. There is a cool selection of movie posters on the walls in Radish’s room including Toolbox Murders. Cecile Bagdadi as Courtney turns in a very natural performance. She is very likeable and it’s a wonder why she didn’t find more work. Fans of the film cite the time spent on the characters as being its strength. To me it had none of the believable chatter or interplay between the cast that Halloween displayed so well. For those fans and slasher completists Shout delivers a very strong looking Final Exam. The rest of us can take another test or transfer to stronger stuff.
Video – 1.77:1.
Touted as a new HD transfer from the original camera negative, the film looks fine. Colors are bright and bold. Detail is good. Any short comings seem to be attributable to the original shooting decisions.
Audio – DTS mono track in English
All dialogue is clear and understandable. And yes there is a simple figure played on a lone keyboard from time to time.
Commentary with Cast Members Joel Rice, Cecile Bagdadi and Sherry Willis-Burch’
Interviews Joel Rice, Cecile Bagdadi And Sherry Willis-Burch, Trailer.
All three interviews have the exact same questions presented in a title card format so we see the question and then the cast member answers. Even if it is in keeping with a final exam format it feels forced and makes the interviews too repetitive. Joel Rice, who played Radish, comes off well. He’s fun to listen to.
On a scale of Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent, Classic
Movie – Fair
Blu-Ray – Good / Excellent