The Dorm That Dripped Blood!

Gory greetings! Today’s lesson in violence is a clas-sick 80′s slasher flick featuring college campus carnage.


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 multiple 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, 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 empty 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 the crabby maintenance man is eventually snuffed by the killer with his beloved power drill used 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 ruthlessly 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 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 “Death Dorm.” The title was also changed to the far more generic and misleading “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 very little nudity and no gratuitous sex scenes in this one. Some sorority slut titties would have gone a long way to making this one more of a slasher clas-sick, 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! For a long time there had only been one unauthorized dvd release in the States, and it featured the shabby looking and heavily edited Vipco print of the film. Like any horror flick, this needs to be seen UNCUT to be fully appreciated.

Fortunately, the good folks at Synapse Films recently released an incredible looking blu-ray/dvd combo pack that features a beautifully remastered director’s cut of the film. After owning and watching the R rated Media Home Video VHS of THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD for years, it was a real treat for me to finally get to see the uncut film in all of it’s gory glory. The spike bat and power drill death scenes have been fully restored and they are fucking BRUTAL. Those two death scenes alone would warrant a purchase, but the special features seal the deal. There’s a commentary track with directors Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter, interviews with composer Christopher Young and make up f/x creator Matthew Mungle, an isolated music track (which is a great bonus, as the score is excellent), and the theatrical trailers. For hardcore fans of the film such as myself, this is a must have. Hats off to Synapse Films for another top notch release. Students of the 80’s slasher craze that haven’t seen this one need to do their homework!


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