Campus Carve ‘Em Ups!!!

It’s back to school time! Today’s lesson in violence is a terrible trio of clas-sick 80’s slasher flicks that feature college campus carnage.

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!! 

 

THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1982)

With a title like THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, you know you are in for a treat. The dorm the title refers to is 75 year old Morgan Meadows Hall, a former college dormitory that is now condemned and slated for massive renovations. Within the first minute of the movie we see a sweaty, out of sorts fellow running away from something or someone near the dorm. As he cowers in the bushes, an unseen assailant makes their deadly presence known and begins strangling him and hacking away at his hand with a knife. Cue opening credits and some impressively violent sounding violin shrieks.

Once the credits wind down we are introduced to a rather annoying chick named Joanne who is in charge of the dorm’s massive Christmas break shutdown project. Joanne is quickly established as a no-nonsense type of gal as she refuses an offer to go on a skiing vacation with her estranged pseudo-love interest and begins bossing around the small group of students that have offered to help out with the inventory and cleaning. The group gets even smaller when a girl named Debbie (Daphne Zuniga, making her screen debut) announces she has to leave the campus because her grandmother is ill.

The fun begins when Debbie’s parents arrive on campus to pick her up. Dad goes looking for Debbie and gets a couple blows to the head from a spiked bat (!) for his efforts. Then the deranged killer sneaks into Debbie’s parents’ car and strangles her mother with a piece of wire. When Debbie discovers her parents’ freshly dead bodies she faints from the shock. That gives the killer the perfect opportunity to drag her limp body underneath the car and then drive over her several times, crunching her bones to dust. Then the maniac piles all three corpses into the car and drives away into the night.

The next morning the four remaining students – Joanne, Craig, Patty, and Kirst Noveselic lookalike Brian begin cleaning out the dorm and are bothered by a filthy looking hobo named John Hemmit who apparently lives in one of the dorm rooms. The potential body count is fleshed out with a crabby maintenance man named Bill who complains about his missing power drill, and a horny dude named Bobby Lee who shows up to buy some old desks and ogle Joanne. Predictably, Bill is eventually snuffed by the killer with his beloved power drill as the murder weapon.

The kids prepare a large family styled dinner one evening and the maniac shows up to smash the table and food with a baseball bat while the kids are in the kitchen. The rest of the film is then padded out with numerous scenes of the kids splitting up and wandering around the dorm looking for the ever-elusive John Hemmit. The tedium is punctuated with Brian’s eventual dismemberment and Patty getting dumped into a large vat of boiling water. This leaves Craig and Joanne alone as they hatch a desperate scheme to escape the dorm that dripped blood with their lives.

As the kids attempt to leave they have a violent encounter with John Hemmit, and horny old Bobby Lee makes another appearance that gives the real killer a perfect chance to frame someone else for the murders. The bloody mayhem reaches its climax as the madman reveals his true identity and motivations, and unleashes a final outrage that ends the film on a major down note. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I will say this is one slasher flick where you shouldn’t bother getting too attached to the “final girl.”

“The Dorm That Dripped Blood” is exactly the type of horror flick I had in mind when I originally decided to do these PICKS FROM THE CRYPT reviews. For some reason, this flick is almost always ignored when 80’s slasher flicks are discussed, and if it is mentioned or reviewed it always gets slammed for being boring, too gruesome, and for having a “depressing” ending. That is exactly why I love this flick so much. I think the grim, sickly humorous ending gives this flick a big boost. Not every horror flick needs a happy ending, or a cutesy shot of the killer opening his eyes or walking away to neatly set up a sequel. This is one of the brave few horror flicks that doesn’t give the audience what they might want or expect.

“The Dorm That Dripped Blood” was the end result of three writers and two directors coming together to make a tense and atmospheric slasher. Co-directors and writers Stephen Carpenter & Jeffery Obrow were at the helm when this film was originally shot under the title “Pranks.” I’m glad they decided to change the title, not only because “The Dorm That Dripped Blood” is infinitely cooler sounding, but also because there is exactly ONE prank on display in the entire film. These are some very straight laced college kids. Hell, they even sleep in separate beds! Sadly, there is no nudity or gratuitous sex scenes in this one. Some titties would have gone a long way to making this one more of a slasher classic, but the violent deaths, superior score, and morbid climax all add up to make this one stand out from the pack in a big way.

In an age where seemingly every slasher flick ever made gets a big budget Hollywood remake, I’m shocked that this one hasn’t been given the same treatment yet. The title alone makes this flick a perfect candidate for a lame ass “re-imagining.” For years I have been saying I would love to see a remake of THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD hit theaters, only so I could finally get a proper dvd release of the original! So far there has only been one unauthorized dvd release in the States, and it featured the shabby looking and edited Vipco print of the film. Like any horror flick, this needs to be seen UNCUT to be fully appreciated. The good folks at Synapse Films are currently working on an incredible looking blu-ray/dvd combo that will feature a never before seen director’s cut. I’m going to be all over that one like flies on a rib roast.

 

THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (1983)

This one starts out on a dark and stormy night in 1963. A pregnant woman named Dorothy Slater goes into birth and suffers complications that threaten her life and the life of her baby. A doctor is called in to perform an emergency cesarean, but the operation is a failure. When Dorothy wakes up and asks to see her baby, it appears to be lifeless.

We then flash forward several years. Dorothy Slater is now the cranky house mother of Theta Pi sorority. The girls of Theta Pi have just graduated and are planning a final blow out beer bash to celebrate. Mrs. Slater of course won’t allow such festivities in her house and goes about her business of being a castrating hag that spoils all of the girls fun. We then get to spend some quality time with Mrs. Slater as she goes to a doctor’s appointment. It appears that Mrs. Slater has never fully recovered from the loss of her child and her mind is deteriorating and progressing towards madness. Her doctor fears that a traumatic episode could cause her to snap, and he urges her to check into the hospital for an extended stay. She refuses and returns home where she violently rips up the photos of past graduating classes. She also lurks about in the sorority house attic, which is oddly filled with children’s toys.

Meanwhile, a sorority skank named Vicki meets her boyfriend Rick for a romp on her waterbed. The fun is short lived, as Mrs. Slater shows up and promptly punctures the bed with her cane. She calls the girl “trash” and tells her that she doesn’t belong in her house. This angers Vicki, and she wakes up the whole house while loudly arguing with Mrs. Slater and vowing revenge. Vicki then decides to pull a little prank on Mrs. Slater that will temporarily put her out of action and leave the girls free to party down.

The prank involves the sorority swimming pool and a gun, which Vicki assures the other girls will be unloaded. Good girl Katey is immediately aware that this is a bad idea, but the other girls are convinced the prank will be a “blast” (get it?). The girls go ahead and set up the house for the party. Mrs. Slater is furious when she sees this and begins one of her patented tirades. She then notices that her trusty cane is missing. Vicki smiles and tells her to look for it by the pool. Mrs. Slater does this and discovers that her cane is on top of an inner tube that is floating in the middle of the pool. Vicki then pulls out the gun and tells Mrs. Slater to take a swim. When she refuses, Vicki fires off a few shots and scares her into jumping into the pool. The harmless fun then turns deadly when Mrs. Slater swings her cane at Vicki and Vicki shoots her in retaliation.

The girls fish Mrs. Slater out of the pool, but the old woman is dead. Good girl Katey freaks out and wants to call an ambulance, but Vicki and the others talk her out of it. Vicki decides that since Mrs. Slater had no living relatives no one will ever miss her. Unbelievably, the girls then decide to sink the corpse to the bottom of the pool and go on with the party as planned! This is one of those hilarious moments where you have to swallow your disbelief and accept that fact that if they did the “right thing” you wouldn’t have a slasher flick on your hands.

The party rages. A shitty band called “Four Out Of Five Doctors” wails away in the background, and a fat fuck in his tighty whiteys jumps into the pool and utters the incredible line “I’m a sea pig!” The girls are horrified because they think Mrs. Slater’s corpse will be discovered, but when the pool lights are turned on her body is missing. The girls huddle in the kitchen and begin freaking out. Katey assumes that Mrs. Slater must still be alive, but Vicki believes that if she was alive she would have called the cops. The girls then split up and begin looking for the body. One of the girls named Morgan begins cleaning out a closet and discovers the secret hatch that leads to the attic. The hatch unexpectedly opens and Mrs. Slater’s dead body comes tumbling down on top of Morgan.

The girls try to figure out how her body wound up in the attic, and then decide to hide her again. Morgan storms off to have a drink and settle her nerves and finds a music box on the patio outside of her room. As the music plays and the clown on the music box dances, a killer in a clown suit sneaks up from behind and impales her with Mrs. Slater’s cane. As the party continues to rage, good girl Katey goes looking for Morgan and decides to check the attic. She discovers the toys and a birthday card addressed “to Eric, love Mother.” The other girls hide Mrs. Slater’s corpse in a dumpster and have a wacky run in with campus security.

While all this hilarity is taking place, the clown killer takes out several of the girls by poking them in the face with Mrs. Slater’s cane and stabbing them in the neck. Meanwhile, Katey gets in touch with Mrs. Slater’s doctor. Dr. Beck races to the sorority house and discovers the girls’ corpses, and also Mrs. Slater’s dead body. Dr. Beck quickly determines that Mrs. Slater is indeed dead, and then reveals to Katey the twisted truth about Mrs. Slater’s child. He also thoughtfully injects her with a mild sedative, which is a logical thing to do when a mad killer in a clown suit is on a rampage.

As the dope takes effect, Katey begins tripping out and seeing the bodies of her dead friends. Then the killer shows up to take out the doctor and the other remaining party goers. This leaves good girl Katey alone and helpless in the sorority of nightmares. But when the nightmare ends, the terror begins. Nothing is off limits and nothing can prepare you for what happens when she strikes back! The killer will learn the hard way that sorority sisters are sisters in life, and sisters in death.

This is about as much of a “textbook” slasher flick as I’ve ever seen, and I mean that in a good way. From the blue-tinted prologue to that always annoying shot where the killer opens his eyes to reveal that he’s not really dead, this flick is full of the cliches that slasher fans have come to know and love. This flick hits all the right notes, and does it with considerable talent and skill. Writer and director Mark Rosman had previously worked with Brian DePalma and he obviously learned a thing or two about helming an effective thriller.

The kills are the best part of the flick and the bloody head in the toilet is an obvious highlight. This flick has quite a few comic relief moments (SEA PIG!) but mostly plays it straight which I appreciated. Richard Band’s (“Re-Animator,” “From Beyond”) haunting score is especially excellent and really adds to the atmosphere of the film. Incredibly, the score for this film was recorded by the renowned London Philharmonic Orchestra. Not every 80’s slasher flick can boast that! I also really liked the killer’s clown outfit. I just wish we could have seen more of him. The rarely seen killer that lurks in the attic was lifted from Bob Clark’s clas-sick “Black Christmas,” but if you’re going to steal you might as well steal from the best.

Just in time to cash in on the film’s remake (which was passable, yet totally fogettable) Liberation Entertainment released a fantastic 25th Anniversary special edition dvd release of THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW. The bonus features include a photo gallery, commentary by Mark Rosman, Eileen Davidson and Kathryn McNeil, storyboard comparisons, and footage from the never before seen alternate ending. This is a dvd release no slasher collection should be missing.

 

SPLATTER UNIVERSITY (1984)

SPLATTER UNIVERSITY starts off with a bang inside an insane asylum where a dangerous paranoid schizophrenic named William Grayham is discovered missing. An orderly goes looking for him and gets stabbed in the dick for his efforts. The maniac (we never see his face) then slips into the orderly’s bloodstained uniform and escapes. We then flash forward three years later to the campus of St. Trinians College. A pretty young sociology teacher is grading papers in her classroom and a killer whom we assume is William Grayham shows up to stab her in the tits.

A new teacher named Julie Parker (Francine Forbes) soon arrives on campus as a replacement. The head of the university – Father Jansen (Dick Biel), welcomes Julie to the faculty, but also warns her about the supposed “curse” on her classroom and the murder that recently occurred there. He then assures her that the murder was an isolated incident. Julie is shocked to discover that a violent death had taken place in her new classroom, but she is strapped for cash and decides to accept the job anyway. As Julie struggles to make a connection with her brain dead students she eventually develops a relationship with a handsome teacher named Mark Hammond.

It doesn’t take long before the killer strikes again. Various dimwitted students and teachers are slashed in the forehead, stabbed in the back, disemboweled on the toilet, and have their throats slit. When her best friend is found mutilated in a stationary cupboard, Julie finally decides that it’s time to pack up and leave town. As she attempts to break off her relationship with Mark and give her notice to Father Jansen she gets closer to the psycho killer than ever before. As the madman’s secret identity is finally revealed, the teacher becomes the student and earns a higher degree in terror!

Incredibly, four different writers are responsible for creating this flick. Co-writer and director Robert W. Haines was apparently warming up for his more well known slice of school savagery – “The Class Of Nuke ‘Em High.” “Splatter University” was originally a Troma production, and Lloyd Kaufman gets a credit as a “creative consultant.” As you might expect, this is a very cheesy horror flick with a lot of dumb humor. Some folks will bust a gut laughing at the wacky hijinks including booger eating mental patients and beer swilling college cretins and others will simply find this to be stupid as hell. I fall somewhere in the middle. I think this flick is actually a lot better than most people give it credit for, but it is still not meant to be taken too seriously. It’s obvious that this flick was intended to be a joke, so the key to enjoying it is to have a drink or seven and just go along for the ride.

Slasher fans should certainly enjoy the classroom carnage. The uncut version of this flick features some nice bloody stabbings and sliced up corpses. One of the film’s clas-sick taglines was “Where the school colors are blood red!” and the film more than makes good on that promise. There is no shortage of blood and violence. There’s also quite a few tense moments leading up to the climax of the film. While a lot of fans and critics seem to dismiss this one as being pure schlock, I think the serious horror elements are there and that they are convincingly effective. The mystery of the killer’s identity is sort of a joke, but perhaps I find wheelchair bound priests that spy on people and tremble uncontrollably to be overly suspicious. I blame my Catholic upbringing.

Special attention must be given to actress Denise Texeira, who plays a smoking hot freckle faced ginger chick cleverly named Denise. Denise sports a thick “New Joisey” accent, fifteen pounds of poofed up red hair, and rocks a pair of tiger print panties OVER her black tights! I fucking love her! Speaking of smoking hot ginger chicks, lead actress Francine Forbes is also pretty damn easy on the eyes. She has a great smile and a likable quality about her. It’s not surprising she later went on to become a staple of annoying infomercials. She now goes by the name Forbes Riley, and you can currently catch her hawking Jack Lalane juicers and comfort shoe inserts. I wish she had done more horror flicks over the years, but I was happy to see she once made an appearance on “Boy Meets World” as a reporter.

This flick also has a really cool punk rock connection. George Seminara appears in the film as a character named Tony. George went on to appear in a couple other flicks, but is better known as a producer and director. He directed The Ramones home videos “Lifestyles Of The Ramones” and “It’s Alive 1974 – 1996,” as well as an excellent documentary/concert called “Live In New York” featuring Agnostic Front, Sick Of It All, and Gorilla Biscuits. It’s too bad The Ramones or Agnostic Front didn’t contribute to the “Splatter University” soundtrack. The crap music in this flick is credited to Chris Burke, and I’m not entirely sure that he isn’t the same Chris “Corky” Burke who stole America’s heart as a lovable teenage retard on “Life Goes On.”

Elite Entertainment released SPLATTER UNIVERSITY on dvd. The only bonus feature is a pair of theatrical trailers, but at least the film is presented uncut and uncensored. I would love to see a special edition dvd release with a Francine Forbes commentary track and a “where is she now” piece on Denise Texeira, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for that one!

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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