BluRay/DVD Reviews

THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD

By • May 1st, 2013 •

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The eighties was that totally awesome decade of rubic cubes, Ronald Reagan and, to horror fans, the slasher sub genre. Fresh off the heels of HALLOWEEN and later FRIDAY THE 13TH a slew of maniacs were unleashed onto a ticket paying public. But is THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD just another Z “grade” splatter fest?

A group of college students are spending their Christmas vacation getting a dorm ready to be closed down. What seems like two weeks of hard work and hard play quickly spirals into a bloody nightmare. Yep you guessed it; a killer is among them, lurking in the dark empty halls. Could it be the creepy guy John Hemmit offing them? Will these students survive or flunk the ultimate test.

That’s the bell, all you ghouls in your seat – school’s in session. For this student of the slasher, DORM just doesn’t make the grade. There is nothing above average about it. I loved the idea of having the college students all alone in this creepy old dorm, but unfortunately there is not a lot of frightful fun to be had. The film suffers the most from a screenplay that feels only half-completed. There are zero clues or hints to the audience as to the identity of the killer, which takes the enjoyment out of the ‘who done it’ element. When the lead actress`s boyfriend leaves for a ski trip I thought, oh a perfect red herring right? Totally wrong, this is a real shame because it would have been a wonderful set up. Speaking of characters, if you can’t quite remember them, you’re not the only one. There is no time spent on actually getting to know any of them, which takes out much of the tension. I mean it’s hard to be scared if you don’t care about who is being stalked. More of an insult is that this film at times is just plain dull, with many scenes that don’t move the story forward. How many walking around scenes does one need?

So does the splatter pass the test? Yes and no. While this film was banned in Britain for its violence, it’s tame this side of a Fulci flick. One death scene is simply a girl getting run over, and all you see is bloody pair of legs. It’s funnier then anything. That being said, there are some decent gory FX. We are treated to a nice drill to the head and a nail-spiked baseball bat. If you’re expecting sex with your ultra violence you’re going to be left with nothing more than a cold shower. I guess that nobody in this Dorm has sex. All is not lost: there is one – count`em one – nude scene which goes by in a flash. Don’t get me wrong folks, I don’t think nudity is what makes a film entertaining, but when you’re watching a slasher flick you do expect some bare flesh.

DORM does have some redeeming factors. One nice moody set piece takes place in the kitchen with Patti. Everything about the scene is creepy, the sense of dread, the flickering Christmas lights the tension that is built., not knowing when and where the killer will strike. Jeffery and Stephen do know how to use dim lighting to bring out the eerie feeling of being alone in a big student hall. It sets a nice tone of lurking dread that boosts the film considerably. As I stated earlier the script is limp, but oddly enough the last ten minutes is actually very well crafted, with a cleverly written plot twist and a nice “oh shit’ moment. Why couldn’t the rest of the film be that good?

THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is a forgettable little slasher from the time when everyone was cashing in on the wildly successful HALLOWEEN franchise. Sadly it takes itself too seriously with no memorable characters and no naughty bits. It’s not a total loss but hardcore students of the sub genre will have a hard time giving this one a passing grade.

PICTURE/SOUND

The film was restored from an original 16mm print and seamlessly reintegrates the missing gore footage without skipping a beat. The clarity is wonderful and I`m certain that the film has never looked better. The sound track was also given the same treatment and is perfect. It’s presented in a 2.0 mono and is crisp and clear. As always Synapse does a stellar job with its HD transfer.

EXTRAS: Synapse always out does themselves with extras and DORM is no exception. There are two brand new featurettes. One is on the creation of the score, with an interview with Chris Young. The second is an interview with the FX guy Matt Mungle. Both supplements are short but entertaining. Also on this disc is a feature length audio commentary by directors Stephen Carpenter and Jeffery Obrow. The commentary is wildly informative and humorous. Even they admit it was not without its flaws. They can poke fun at its imperfections without being bitter. It’s worth listening to. Grind house trailer fans will enjoy the pair that round out the features. An isolated music track is also available.

OVERALL: Synapse as always goes above and beyond for genre fans. For the first time “DEATH DORM” the original directors cut restores the missing gore and title card. Packaging is also pretty cool, with reversible cover art. Nice added touch. The extras, while slim, are A+ in my book. The film itself never looked or sounded better. Die hard slasher fans will want to make this part of their collection.

TRIVA-DORM didn’t make the dean’s list but made the infamous video nasties. It was banned for decades in Britain.

SPOILER

This is the first film appearance by actress Daphne Zuniga. Sadly she gets killed early on.

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