Directed By: Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow
Starring: Laurie Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow
Tag line: "When the kidding stops... the killing starts!"
Trivia: This film was also released under the title Pranks
The Dorm That Dripped Blood opens with a guy on the run, trying to elude an unseen stalker. He jumps into some nearby bushes, hoping they'll shield him from whoever it is that's after him, but his assailant's one step ahead, grabbing the victim's throat from behind before slicing his hand with a butcher's knife. It's just the sort of opening you'd expect to find in an early 80's slasher film, which is exactly what The Dorm That Dripped Blood is. Adhering to formulas already well-established by 1982, The Dorm That Dripped Blood is an entertaining entry in what quickly became an over-crowded sub-genre.
Morgan Meadows Hall, which, for decades, functioned as a co-op college dormitory, is scheduled to be closed. With most students already gone for Christmas break, five remain behind to pack up the soon-to-be abandoned hall. Under the guidance of student leader Joanne (Laurie Lapinsi), they have two weeks to clear the building out from top to bottom, which means they'll have to work quickly. But there's someone else at Morgan Meadows also moving pretty fast, a mysterious killer who's set his sights squarely on the five unsuspecting volunteers.
As you can imagine, The Dorm That Dripped Blood is every bit a standard 80's slasher flick, from its story (a group of kids stalked by a homicidal maniac) right down to the POV shots that occasionally pop up, where we're looking through the eyes of the killer. There's even a twist ending (one that's long on exposition, and short on credibility). Where The Dorm That Dripped Blood distinguishes itself from the others is its creative kill scenes. Debbie (played by Daphne Zuniga, in her screen debut) is one of the five staying behind to clean up the Hall. Unfortunately, Debbie's mother called, and she wants her daughter home for the Holidays. But when Debbie's parents arrive to pick her up, someone else is watching their every move. As her father (Richard Cowgill) ascends a dark flight of stairs, the killer is on his way down them, brandishing a baseball bat with nails sticking out of the end of it (a weapon that, for some reason, always gives me the heebie-jeebies). It's no mystery what happens when they meet up, and The Dorm That Dripped Blood isn't shy about showing it all, and in graphic detail (I counted nine whacks to the head). It's the first of many such slaughters, with the killer using everything at his disposal, from a pressure cooker to a power drill, to finish off his unsuspecting prey.
By the time The Dorm That Dripped Blood was released, slashers had already taken the cinematic world by storm. Films like Halloween and Friday the 13th broke box-office records, while firmly establishing the formulas that would dominate the sub-genre for years to come. The Dorm That Dripped Blood doesn't break any new ground, but it gets the job done, and is a film most slasher fans will undoubtedly enjoy.