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Some film fans may remember Avco Embassy Pictures, though there also may be some of you out there who have never heard of them…but if you love movies, you certainly know some of their titles! When talking about Avco Embassy Pictures, it would also be remiss not to mention the name of Robert Rehme…and as a B-Movie fan, you might want to know who this man is, too…

Originally a distributor of foreign films, such as Godzilla: King Of The Monsters and Fellini’s 8 1/2, Avco Embassy was founded by legendary producer Joseph E. Levine in 1942. It wasn’t until the 60s when the studio began to produce it’s own films, including such classic’s as The Graduate, Mad Monster Party and The Producers, to name just a few.

Some classic genre flicks released/produced by Avco Embassy in their early years!

The era that should resonate most with horror, action and sci-fi fans, are the years between 1978 and 1982. During most of this time, a man named Robert Rehme ran the studio. After having been sold and then experiencing some financial trouble that brought production to a halt, Rehme was hired to get the studio producing and profitable again and that he did! Rehme, who got his start working for Roger Corman at New World Pictures, used some of his former employer’s methods and turned to lower budgeted, yet popular B-movies to get the studio back in the black. Avco Embassy started churning out such flicks prolifically for the next few years, producing many inexpensive but successful films. Under his watch, the studio produced and released such classics and cult classics as Phantasm, The Fog, Scanners, The Howling and Escape From New York among many others! This strategy was a success, as studio earnings quadrupled during Rehme’s time at the helm!

Some of the classics and cult favorites the studio churned out under Rehme between 78 and 82!

All good things do, however, come to an end. Robert Rehme moved on to work for Universal in 1981 and Avco Embassy was subsequently sold in 1982. The name was changed to simply Embassy Pictures and the new owners gradually moved away from such B-Movie fair focusing on turning out more mainstream movies such as Eddie And The Cruisers and the classic comedy This Is Spinal Tap. Their last theatrical feature saw it’s release in 1986 and laid to rest the legacy of a studio whose early 80s flourish produced numerous classics and cult favorites. While Avco is now long gone, and Rehme apparently retired after a lengthy career, the movies they turned out, especially during their golden age between 1978 and 1982, will immortalize Avco Embassy Pictures and Robert Rehme with movie buffs for all time!

-MonsterZero NJ

Unsung hero of many a horror and B-Movie classic and cult classic, Robert Rehme!

sources: Wikipedia/IMDB/internet




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Final Exam is a 1981 slasher that has a bit of a following, though I’m not sure why. Even with the personal nostalgia of having seen this at the legendary Oritiani Theater in Hackensack, N.J. in 1981, it didn’t impress me much then and it still doesn’t upon a recent revisit.

The almost nonexistent story starts with two college coeds being murdered on campus by a mysterious figure (Timothy L. Raynor). We then switch to another campus where the film changes gears into a lame college comedy for almost an hour before the killer shows up and the film switches gears back to a horror. Our generic coeds are stalked and murdered in fairly uninteresting ways till the ambiguous killer and our final girl Courtney (Cecile Bagdadi) face off in the school gym. That’s kinda it.

Written and directed by Jimmy Houston, Final Exam is a rather tame and lame slasher that can’t decide whether it is a horror or an Animal House style campus comedy. It doesn’t even try to mix the elements, but just jarringly switches from one type of flick to another. The killer is so mysterious that his identity is never given and his motivations never revealed. Just a random psycho, killing random kids at colleges. Bargain basement writing with no imagination or ingenuity. Even the most basic Halloween rip-offs gave their killer some kind of identity and reason for their ill deeds. This robs our villain of having any personality or presence, as he is just some big guy with a grudge and a knife and the lack of any reason for his crimes makes the proceedings rather pointless. That might be forgivable if there was any suspense, or, if we cared about the characters, but there is little or no tension and the characters are as generic as they come. The kills are also fairly routine and uninteresting, so there isn’t even anything to boost the film on a gore level. The movie isn’t even funny during the first hour that Houston spends introducing his stereotypical characters in a more frat house sitcom style format before becoming a horror film again in the last act. It’s all rather dull and Houston’s camera offers no style or atmosphere.

The cast are all dull and forgettable, as well. Final girl Bagdadi is perky, but it’s wasted when she comes up against Timothy L. Raynor’s silent and nameless killer, who evokes little fear or impact. The rest of the cast are stereotypical college types portrayed by mostly unknowns, most of whom have stayed that way.

Obviously, I have no love for this movie, even with the 80s nostalgia it now carries. It’s dull, pointless, has little to no story and the killer and victims are equally dull and forgettable. It’s a boring horror that can’t decide whether to be a slasher or frat comedy and fails miserably at both. All due respect to those who are part of this film’s cult following, but I just don’t get it.

2 knives.

final exam rating