Tuesday, 3 March 2015



Somehow over the years I'd clean forgotten about Fred Olen Ray. Back in the late eighties and early nineties he was churning out a ton of stuff: cheap and cheerful exploitation nonsense with nudity and gore and injokes, but little in the way of sense or quality film-making. One thinks of the glory days of Prison Ship: Star Slammer and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, but quickly realises that if your glory days amount to movies like that, something has gone badly wrong. Yet a glance at the IMDb confirms that Fred is still at it, churning out half a dozen films a year, many with the word Bikini in the title (Bikini Royale, Bikini Pirates, Bikini Chain Gang) and frequently under a pseudonym. Maybe Scream Queen Hot Tub Party was the peak after all.

Final Examination (also pseudonymous) is basically an old Gregory Hippolyte topshelfer as directed by Andy Sidaris: a Hawaii-based slasher movie which comes to a (literally) grinding halt every ten minutes or so for a sex scene or a gratuitous shower sequence - anything so long as someone gets their hooters out. Brent Huff is a tough LA cop transferred to Hawaii after a spectacular (and pretty well-staged) car chase, tasked with finding the killer at a sorority reunion photoshoot for a tacky glamour magazine. Obviously it has something to do with the opening scene's car crash suicide, dirty tricks at the election for class president five years before, the creepy and evasive student adviser....but what?

Made in 2002 (the same year as Bikini Airways and Thirteen Erotic Ghosts), Final Examination is absolute twaddle but just about enjoyable enough to pass muster as a dumb Friday night diversion, the kind of "erotic thriller" you wouldn't be surprised to find on Channel Five in the small hours. The acting isn't great, the writing is pretty awful (there's one terrible scene where a lone woman reads a slab of text off the computer screen out loud, and then continues talking with plot details) and most of the characters are tiresome, imbecilic or both, while the murderer's identity isn't a huge surprise. Junk, but not absolute junk, though it's a shame Fred couldn't resist a particularly lame sub-Porky's gag by naming the LA police captain Hugh Janus. No physical UK distribution even after twelve years, but available streaming through Amazon Prime.


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