Just released this week on a Blu Ray/DVD combo set from Synapse Films, comes the long lost early 80s slasher film The Dorm That Dripped Blood. Also known under the title Pranks (and not to be confused with the 1971 Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing film The House That Dripped Blood for which it was obviously named after), horror fans should be glad to finally get a proper US release of this classic - especially from a great company like Synapse. Due to the rarity of the film, I was never lucky enough to see it until now, though I had heard the title many times in the happy days of VHS and I was always on the lookout for a copy.
The Dorm That Dripped Blood starts out like your typical 80s slasher. Four college students stay at their school during break to prepare it for renovation. Joanne (Laurie Lapinski) is in charge and decides that staying there instead of going skiing with her on again/off again boyfriend is a good idea. WRONG! As Joanne and her three helpers - Craig, Brian and Patti - prepare the building to be torn down, someone else is there with them. Lurking in the shadows, this unseen psychopath starts killing off anyone who comes near the dorm, including fellow student Debbie (a young Daphne Zuniga from Spaceballs) and her parents. Assuming it is the town weirdo, they try to take matters into their own hands but that proves deadly as the killer stars knocking them off one by one.
I'll be the first to admit that this film is not terribly original and I think that is actually a good thing. There are a few odd twists along the way but for the most part, The Dorm that Dripped Blood is a straight forward, grisly, creepy slasher film. It doesn't try to be different or terribly original. Instead it focuses on the two most important things - atmosphere and gore. A good percentage of the film is dark and some of the scenes are almost entirely black. This really amps up the creepy factor and makes the scares more effective. As far as the gore goes, makeup FX artist Matthew Mungle creates some really nasty (and surprisingly realistic) deaths - the most memorable of which involve boiling water, a spiked bat and a power drill. If that doesn't make you want to see this film, then your gorehound card should be revoked. I should also mention that this new version is the unrated director's cut (titled Death Dorm on the main title screen) so it is uncut and was supposedly lost for the last 30 years. The picture quality is very good, especially considering the film's age and the sound (especially with the one of the first scores by the now-well known composer Christopher Young) really adds tension in the right places and is very clear with minimal hiss. Other than a few slow spots, The Dorm That Dripped Blood is another classic example of why the early 80s was the best time for horror.