Final Examination Release Date: 3 January 2003 (USA) Genre: Horror | Thriller Director: Fred Olen Ray (as Ed Raymond) Writer: Sean O’Bannon (Air Rage) & Kimberly A. Ray Starring: Kari Wuhrer, Brent Huff, Debbie Rochon One of the things that I always hear from directors, producers, writers, etc. is that once they sell a movie […]

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Final Examination
Release Date: 3 January 2003 (USA)
Genre: Horror | Thriller
Director: Fred Olen Ray (as Ed Raymond)
Writer: Sean O’Bannon (Air Rage) & Kimberly A. Ray
Starring: Kari Wuhrer, Brent Huff, Debbie Rochon

One of the things that I always hear from directors, producers, writers, etc. is that once they sell a movie off to a distributor, it is sadly out of their hands. As a result, concerns like artwork go right out the window, allowing the distributor to make their own financially motivated decisions that often times paint a film as something that it is so obviously not.

For a great example, look no farther than Final Examination. Directed by Fred Olen Ray (who publicly called it a “disaster”), this is one of his and fellow director Jim Wynorski’s many “free vacation to Hawaii” movies, most of which lean towards the softcore genre. That’s essentially what a quarter of Final Examination focuses on. Then there’s the other three quarters, which is a pair of Hawaii detectives trying to find out who is murdering sorority girls, and where exactly a never ending family tree ends.

While many people rented this expecting a slasher, this ain’t one. When the murders do happen, they’re either offscreen or relatively bloodless, as the killer neither wears an extravagant mask (instead resorting to a simple black ski mask) nor carries the ax seen on the cover. The fact that the “slasher” was released just ten days before Halloween only further shows how warped the marketing for this was. As a result, and rightfully so, the film got smashed by horror film critics, as they were expecting a slasher and got something that is barely a degree above the softcore produced by MRG Entertainment.

Like most of Fred’s films, stock footage is used here, though more sporadic than in other features. It does, however, provide a nice moment of laughter for all eight people who have seen both this and Black Horizon. Actor Robert Donovan participates in a car chase in both movies, which is nothing big. What’s notable is the fact that both scenes have a nearly identical setup, not to mention the fact that both scenes utilize the same exact stock footage.

I will give Fred credit, though. He’s having a whole hell of a lot of fun doing this. The character name Hugh Janus makes another appearance, with the meaning behind it being that Fred’s “anonymous” producer routinely takes that as a pseudonym (though here, Hugh Jordgan gets the credit). The name “James A. Wynorski” so subtly makes an appearance in the movie, as does a character by the name of Professor Andrews. If you’re not in the business and can see what’s so “in” about the last one, I owe you a cookie.
Final Examination is a mess of a movie. In fact, it’s so poorly scripted that not only was it re-written by Fred’s wife and line producer Kim Ray as filming was occurring, but they never even answer a central question of the film involving a certain girl’s brake lines.

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