BY LIONEL FRANKENSTEIN
Horror nerds that we are, Fun Size Horror would love to share with you some of our favorite genre films, but with a twist: instead of just listing off some favorites, each week we'll offer up a pairing of two horror films that complement one another in unique or fascinating ways: Double Feature Friday.
For our latest entry, I’ve coupled two completely clueless, college-set ‘80s slasher films, Final Exam and Pieces. So tone-deaf and poorly written that they seem like celluloid windows into a bizarre, alternate reality in which The Room’s Tommy Wiseau is revered like Shakespeare, both movies are complete failures of slasher filmdom, yet are some of the best so-bad-they’re-genius horrors of the 1980s.
FINAL EXAM (1981/ 89 minutes/ dir. Jimmy Huston)
A hilariously misguided attempt at a slasher film, Final Exam plays like a compendium of slasher film tropes compiled by an extraterrestrial who, with no understanding of human behavior, watched Friday the 13th, Halloween, and My Bloody Valentine a few times and then tried replicate them with its own imitation. And, as is the case with most body snatcher replicas, Final Exam has all the right parts… and yet is still so very, very off.
Long story short: a random dude with an Anton Chigurh haircut and no backstory (despite the film’s tagline of “he’s come back!” the killer literally is given no reason to kill) shows up on a campus and starts stabbing coeds. Random people have sex with each other for no reason, at one point, a fratboy creates a “hilarious” fake school shooting to distract a teacher from noticing he’s cheating on his finals, and a final girl manages to survive seemingly for no reason other than someone remembered that’s how Halloween ended. Oh, and there’s a high-strung kid named Radish who is obsessed with serial killers. Radish. His name is Radish.
Watch Final Exam as a horror film and you’ll be disgusted and probably bored; watch it as an unintentional comedy, and it becomes something akin to Eli Roth’s hilarious Thanksgiving trailer stretched across 90 entertaining minutes.
PIECES (1982/ 89 minutes/ dir. Juan Piquer Simon)
There really is no way to accurately explain Pieces—much like the Matrix or the political ascendancy of Donald Trump, you have to see it for yourself to believe something so brain-meltingly confounding can actually exist.
A Spanish-American slasher film set on a college campus, Pieces seems to have been vomited forth from some strange mirror universe in which serial killers are created when their mothers don’t allow them to have porno jigsaw puzzles as children. A mirror universe in which “kung fu professors” inexplicably enter the film for a few moments to bust out some moves, and then disappear, never to be mentioned again. A mirror universe in which the discovery of a dead coed leads to the single greatest line delivery in cinema history.
It’s a horrendously bad, strangely hypnotic 89 minutes, one that takes the general cluelessness of Final Exam and ramps it up into one long, baffling scream of misguided madness. The fact that it somehow manages to be, much like Final Exam, one of the most entertaining slabs of '80s grindhouse entertainment is some kind of miracle.
WARNING: TRAILER IS NSFW
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