The Dorm that Dripped Blood (1982)
By: Devon B. on December 25, 2014 | Comments
Synapse Films | Region Free | 1.66:1, 1080p | English DTS-HD MA 2.0 | 88 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Jeffrey Obrow, Stephen Carpenter
Starring: Laurie Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow, Pamela Holland, Daphne Zuniga
Screenplay: Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow, Stacey Gaichino
Country: USA
The first time I saw The Dorm that Dripped Blood a friend who had a strong affinity for terrible 60s and 70s horror lent it to me. I assumed it was some schlocky ghost story from 1973 before popping the tape in, but quickly realised the movie was made in the best decade for cinema ever. On top of that, it wasn't some dull ghost story, but a slasher. There's no such thing as a dull slasher from the early 80s, except for Terror Train, Night School, Friday the 13th 3, Prom Night, The Funhouse, Curtains, The House on Sorority Row, New Year's Evil, Blood Beat… dull 80s slashers are incredibly rare. Anyway, once I realised I wasn't going to be sitting through some crappy Hammer knock-off, I really enjoyed The Dorm that Dripped Blood, but I never bothered to rewatch it. This year as I was looking for strange Xmas movies I vaguely recalled that The Dorm that Dripped Blood took place at Xmas time so I decided it was time to create some festive cheer in the way I like best: Subjecting friends and family with off-kilter seasonal offerings.

The slick for Synapse's Blu-ray is reversible and on one side the film's called The Dorm that Dripped Blood and on the other it's Pranks, but the print is called Death Dorm. This is evidently the title that was used for the director's cut of the film. Fittingly for two of those titles the movie centres around a dorm that has been condemned. Most of the students have left for the Xmas holidays, but a few stay back to help clear things out. As always seems to be the case, a killer is lurking who wants to whittle the remaining student numbers down to zero. Fittingly for the second title some of the killer's actions seem like practical jokes, so, as usual, it takes the characters a while to work out they're facing great peril.

While The Death Dorm that Dripped Pranks is obviously set near Xmas, the yuletide element is not very prevalent. It's similar to First Blood where it's just the decorations in the background that alert the viewer to the fact that Rambo isn't having a good holiday season. In fact the Xmas connection is so minimal that this barely rates as a seasonal slasher, but I'm going to count it as one anyway because I like The Death Dorm that Dripped Blood. It's a strange one because it should just be a generic slasher of little interest. Some of the acting is bad, there's hardly any plot and the killer wears Converse shoes, yet somehow this movie just works. It's got a couple of gags, but isn't that funny – it's just a straightforward slasher. A few conventions of the subgenre are defied, and I don't just mean the killer's choice of footwear, and these things help the movie stand out, but if I was pressed for notable elements there wouldn't be a lot of things to list. It's a slasher with a little je ne sais quoi which makes the movie good fun even though it's hard to explain why I like it.

I didn't remember much about The Dorm that Dripped Blood before revisiting it this year, but I do think this new The Death Dorm that Dripped Blood version is more violent. This version would probably get an 'R' rating in the US these days, but there are a few sequences that would've been trimmed to quell the wrath of the MPAA back in the day. There is also some brief but extremely gratuitous nudity, but the MPAA always seemed to be alright with nude women so long as they weren't having sex or being murdered.

The Death Dorm that Dripped Blood is a movie where everything just fell into place and worked, and my appreciation of it is another bit of evidence that I do like slashers even though I seem to be forever trashing them here at Digital Retribution.
The Disc
The film's grain is healthy and at times heavy, and there are some flecks. There's also some crush, and this isn't one where the viewer will be able to count the threads in the casts' jumpers. It's certainly not eye candy, but aside from some macroblocking and a fleck that remains on screen for several minutes during the climax, Synapse have done well. This would've been a tough restore, and given it's Synapse this may well be the best the film will ever look. The audio is a little tougher to rate because there are some jarring edits soundwise and the music gets overbearing at times, but overall Synapse have done a fantastic job considering they've had create a new soundtrack, including recording new audio, in order to present the Death Dorm version of the film. The track is pretty clean and clear, and any faults can easily be put down to a lack of source materials at Synapse's disposal. The extras include the reversible slick, a commentary, an isolated score track, two interviews, and trailers for The Dorm that Dripped Blood and Pranks. The commentary is a good track featuring the two directors, who outline the unique situation they found themselves in that enabled them to make the movie, and they offer up yet another alternate title. The first featurette is with composer Christopher Young and the second is with FX guy Matthew Mungle. The second was more interesting and shows one difference between the director's cut and the UK theatrical release version. The Blu-ray comes with a DVD version of the film.
The Verdict
Fans of 80s slashers will come to rejoice Synapse with this release. For fans of the film this is a nigh-perfect Blu-ray, with plenty of interesting information in the extras and a quality presentation of a previously unseen version of the movie.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
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