Final Exam (1981)

R | 90 mins | Horror | 1981

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HISTORY

       An article in the 26 Sep 1980 HR reported that producer Myron Meisel and the other producers used a “rational approach to creating a marketable product.” First, distributor Motion Picture Marketing (MPM) was selected. Next, Feb 1981 was chosen as the premiere month because movies released at Christmas often do not perform as well as expected, leaving exhibitors looking for new films. Their marketing department chose terror-suspense as the most commercial subject matter, NC was chosen for the film’s location, and then the story was created.
       Given the tight schedule to have the film ready for release in Feb 1981, the producers chose to make a non-union film. Meisel noted the filmmakers might have preferred a union project, but the 1980 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike would have derailed their production schedule. The actors were not SAG members, but many of them reportedly were members of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) and Equity. The 28 Aug 1980 DV stated that Cecile Bagdadi, who made her feature film debut as “Courtney,” was discovered during a stage production of Faces on the Wall at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Joel S. Rice also made his motion picture debut in the film.
       According to an item in the 19 Aug 1980 DV, filming was scheduled to begin 15 Sep 1980. Filming took place at the E. O. (Earl Owensby) Motion Picture Studios near Shelby, NC, and the 11 Jun 1981 LAT review reported that Shelby’s Isothermal Community College provided the film’s “isolated atmosphere of ... More Less

       An article in the 26 Sep 1980 HR reported that producer Myron Meisel and the other producers used a “rational approach to creating a marketable product.” First, distributor Motion Picture Marketing (MPM) was selected. Next, Feb 1981 was chosen as the premiere month because movies released at Christmas often do not perform as well as expected, leaving exhibitors looking for new films. Their marketing department chose terror-suspense as the most commercial subject matter, NC was chosen for the film’s location, and then the story was created.
       Given the tight schedule to have the film ready for release in Feb 1981, the producers chose to make a non-union film. Meisel noted the filmmakers might have preferred a union project, but the 1980 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike would have derailed their production schedule. The actors were not SAG members, but many of them reportedly were members of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA) and Equity. The 28 Aug 1980 DV stated that Cecile Bagdadi, who made her feature film debut as “Courtney,” was discovered during a stage production of Faces on the Wall at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. Joel S. Rice also made his motion picture debut in the film.
       According to an item in the 19 Aug 1980 DV, filming was scheduled to begin 15 Sep 1980. Filming took place at the E. O. (Earl Owensby) Motion Picture Studios near Shelby, NC, and the 11 Jun 1981 LAT review reported that Shelby’s Isothermal Community College provided the film’s “isolated atmosphere of a small-town college.” An item in the 31 Oct 1980 HR noted the completion of principal photography on 25 Oct 1980.
       Producer John L. Chambliss’ name was evoked during the film when the sheriff learns that the van used in a fraternity prank was registered to “Wildman’s” father, John Chambliss. The van’s license number “MPM 112” is also a nod to the film’s distribution company, MPM.
       As reported in the 21 Jan 1981 Var, Cecile Bagdadi was chosen as the “Star of Tomorrow” by the National Association of Theatre Owners of Texas and Final Exam would be presented at their TEXPO convention in Dallas, TX, on 28 Jan 1981. The film was scheduled for general release on 13 Mar 1981. In the 7 Jun 1981 DV, John Chambliss stated that upon its release, Final Exam had enough money from exhibitors’ guarantees “to cover negative costs.”
       An article in the 21 Apr 1988 DV reported that production company Peninsula Management filed a law suit against Final Exam distributor De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG) for “alleged fraud, deceit and breach of contract” in a residuals dispute; however, DEG is not credited onscreen as a distributor.

      End credits include the following written statements: “Special thanks to Isothermal Community College” and “Filmed at E. O. Motion Picture Studios in Shelby, NC.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Aug 1980.
---
Daily Variety
28 Aug 1980.
---
Daily Variety
7 Jun 1981.
---
Daily Variety
21 Apr 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Jun 1981
p. 7.
Variety
21 Jan 1981.
---
Variety
17 Jun 1981
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
MPM Presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod/Exec Prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Dolly grip
Grip
2d unit photog
2d unit photog
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus comp
Mus rec at
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opt
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Dial coach
Scr supv
Prod asst
Prod asst
STAND INS
Stuntman
Stunt coord
Atlanta, Georgia
Fight coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Release Date:
1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 5 June 1981
Production Date:
15 September--25 October 1980
Copyright Claimant:
Peninsula Management
Copyright Date:
27 April 1981
Copyright Number:
PA102379
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

It is midnight at March College and the quarterback and his date kiss in his car when a killer attacks. The next day at nearby Lanier College, it is the end of the semester and the campus is almost empty as the last students take final exams. Mark and Courtney are on their way to their chemistry test when Radish joins them with news of the murders. In the classroom, the teacher, Dr. Reynolds, leaves two grading assistants in charge and goes to his office to meet an attractive student, Lisa, who offers to rendezvous for sex that evening. In the chemistry classroom, Radish finishes the test first and is quickly followed out the door by Wildman Chambliss, a football player who claims he has better things to do than take a test. Coach greets them outside the building and Radish promises to complete the equipment inventory after his next exam. A short time later, Courtney finishes the test and leaves the building as a van appears with assailants wearing ski masks, who open fire on students. Several students are shot while others scream and hide. Inside the classroom, as the grading assistants witness the massacre, Mark “grades” his test with a score of 82, hides it in the middle of the graded tests and leaves the room. Outside, the shooters grab the bodies of their victims, shove them inside the van and drive away. Radish runs to an office and calls the sheriff, but Lisa and Courtney realize the van was Wildman’s and the “shooting” was a Gamma fraternity prank. In the cafeteria, Lisa and Courtney ... +


It is midnight at March College and the quarterback and his date kiss in his car when a killer attacks. The next day at nearby Lanier College, it is the end of the semester and the campus is almost empty as the last students take final exams. Mark and Courtney are on their way to their chemistry test when Radish joins them with news of the murders. In the classroom, the teacher, Dr. Reynolds, leaves two grading assistants in charge and goes to his office to meet an attractive student, Lisa, who offers to rendezvous for sex that evening. In the chemistry classroom, Radish finishes the test first and is quickly followed out the door by Wildman Chambliss, a football player who claims he has better things to do than take a test. Coach greets them outside the building and Radish promises to complete the equipment inventory after his next exam. A short time later, Courtney finishes the test and leaves the building as a van appears with assailants wearing ski masks, who open fire on students. Several students are shot while others scream and hide. Inside the classroom, as the grading assistants witness the massacre, Mark “grades” his test with a score of 82, hides it in the middle of the graded tests and leaves the room. Outside, the shooters grab the bodies of their victims, shove them inside the van and drive away. Radish runs to an office and calls the sheriff, but Lisa and Courtney realize the van was Wildman’s and the “shooting” was a Gamma fraternity prank. In the cafeteria, Lisa and Courtney sit with Janet and her boyfriend, Gary, a Gamma pledge. Mark, a Gamma leader, pulls Gary outside and orders the pledge to break into another teacher’s office to steal the next day’s test. Gary is hesitant until Wildman joins them and pressures him to do it. Wildman and Mark then join the crowd as the sheriff arrives to investigate the shooting. Radish now realizes the shooting was a prank, but he did get the license number of the van. The sheriff is furious when he learns the van is registered to Wildman’s father, John Chambliss, and he wants to arrest the students, but Coach and Mitch, the campus security guard, convince him to let the matter drop. The sheriff reluctantly leaves as Coach and Mitch confirm plans to meet early the next morning to go hunting. Later, Courtney studies while her roommate, Lisa, brags that she never has to study if she has male teachers. Courtney goes to Radish’s room for aspirin and admits she is jealous of how easy life is for her beautiful roommate. As Courtney walks back to her room, she does not notice a man watching from the stairwell. Janet arrives, announces that she and Gary got “pinned,” and asks them to keep it a secret so Gary’s fraternity brothers will not torture him for going steady with a girl. Meanwhile, Wildman and Mark burst into Radish’s room and, as Wildman berates Radish for calling the sheriff, Mark pockets Radish’s keys. Later, Gary sneaks into a teacher’s office and steals the test. His fraternity brothers wait outside and demand to know what happened to Gary’s pledge pin. When Gary admits he gave the pin to Janet, they strip him to his underwear, tie him to a tree, soak him with water, dump ice into his underwear and leave him to be rescued by Janet. Another student, Elizabeth, runs to tell Janet but cannot find her. At the Gamma fraternity house, Mark receives a phone call from students who want drugs. He gives Radish’s keys to Wildman, insisting they can make a fortune by stealing pills from Coach’s office and suggests they blame it on Radish. Meanwhile, Mitch sees Gary but will not interfere with tradition and leaves the pledge tied to the tree. Elizabeth finally finds Janet but, before she reaches Gary, someone else cuts his ropes and stabs him to death. Janet arrives, follows a trail of Gary’s clothes and is also murdered by the assailant. In the gym, Wildman vandalizes the locker room before stealing the pills. As he crosses the gymnasium, the scoreboard lights up and he sees a man watching him. Wildman attacks but he is no match for the killer as their fight moves into the workout room and Wildman’s neck is snapped on a weight machine. At the dorm, Radish stops in Courtney’s room before going to complete the equipment inventory. For her own safety, Radish suggests she lock her door, then awkwardly admits he thinks she is pretty. Elsewhere, Mark tires of waiting for Wildman, goes to the gym and finds his friend’s body inside a locker. The killer chases Mark and stabs him to death. A short time later, Radish arrives at the gym and discovers Mark’s body. He calls for help but the sheriff does not believe him and refuses to come. Radish runs to protect Courtney, knocks on her door and the killer attacks him. Courtney returns from the vending machines to find Radish’s body stuck in her smashed door. No one else is in the dorm, so she runs outside and discovers Mitch’s body in his car. Meanwhile, in another building, Lisa undresses in anticipation of Reynold’s arrival, but the killer shows up first and stabs her. When Courtney arrives looking for Lisa, the killer chases her. He follows Courtney into the cafeteria where she tricks him into thinking she is in a freezer, then pushes him inside and locks the door. The killer bursts free through a second door and chases her to the campus tower. As Courtney runs up the stairs, Coach arrives to pick up Mitch for their hunting trip. Hearing Courtney’s screams, Coach grabs his bow and arrow, then rushes into the tower. He shoots at the killer, who catches the arrow and stabs Coach with it. The killer almost catches Courtney on the top landing, but his foot is caught in a hole. She grabs a wooden post, hits him and his knife flies over the railing. She attacks until the killer falls over the edge and crashes to the ground several floors below. Courtney cautiously descends the stairs but, as she moves past the seemingly dead man, he grabs her. Courtney lunges for the knife and repeatedly stabs the killer, then sits alone on campus as the sun rises. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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