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May 23, 2011

Movie Review: The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982, Blu-ray)

Way back in the mid-eighties when I was in my formative years grew an insatiable addiction to slasher films. One film of note that came on pretty late at night on our local UHF station in Chicago was The Dorm That Dripped Blood. My first crack at seeing this was interrupted by a very pissed off parent who wasn't happy with what I was viewing. About twenty-years later I finally was able to watch "Dorm" in its entirety (or so I thought) on some uber-shitty quality DVDs from both Vipco and Jef Films under the alternate title, Pranks. Yes, I watched the film though I could barely see what was going on and it completely marred any enjoyment I could have had if those companies could've put some effort in a restoration. Not only was it in horrible quality - the film was heavily cut. They say the third time's a charm, right? Synapse Films has now released The Dorm that Dripped Blood in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. This may just be it.

Buy The Dorm That Dripped Blood [Blu-ray]

Usually when a movie has two or more directors that's an indication it'll be a mess of a film. That isn't the case here with Steven Carpenter and Jeff Obrow's The Dorm that Dripped Blood. These guys work well within their meager budget and have produced an effective slasher that follows some of the basic slasher formula that we know all too well from the classics (Friday the 13th, Halloween, My Bloody Valentine). Joanne Murray ( Laurie Lapinsky) is put charge of getting all the students out of their college dormitory so it can get demolished. Most of the kids leave but there are a few that stay behind. During this time the thirty-five year-olds that play twenty-somethings begin to die in all different kinds of ways. There are several stalking scenes through-out the duration of "Dorm". Some may tend to drag, but boy, the pay-off gets almost always gets messy (courtesy of FX artist, Mathew Mungle).

(Possible Spoilers)

This new version of The Dorm that Dripped Blood has a considerable amount of extra gore that was excised from previous releases. The part of the joy of a quality slasher is gruesome kills - "Dorm" delivers here. Anyone impressed by the "drill death" from City of the Living Dead may just wet themselves when they see the lingering gnarly drill murder in Dorm. This was produced before City of the Living Dead, too. We also get some extended death sequences as well that give you an idea as to why British censors went and banned the film. The banning and the "Video Nasty" label is a joke - as it is for all the "Nasties" - but I can see why some of these squeamish turds cried uncle.

Synapse, as usual, gives us some excellent extras. Red Shirt Pictures has provided some especially cool interviews with composer Christopher Young and FX guru Mathew Mungle. Young talks about his influences that include that of legends Jerry Goldsmith( Omen ) and Bernard Herrman. The featurettes are appropriately titled My First Score and My First Slasher.

The audio commentary by directors, Stephen Carpenter and Jeff Obrow are no doubt the gem of the supplements. Obrow enjoys the "Corman approach" to filmmaking: one death or nude scene every 10-12 minutes. The gentlemen also talk at length about the censored scenes and its Video Nasty history. There's a funny story here about Obrow running into British distributor who was a bit repulsed by what he saw on screen.

As for the picture and audio quality of both the Blu-ray and DVD, "Dorm" has NEVER looked or sounded this good. Originally shot in 16mm and not that well lit to begin with, Synapse has improved the picture so much that now when viewing the several night scenes or dark corridor you can actually see what's on screen. In all honesty, it's like seeing the movie for the first time. Color also has been improved dramatically. Christopher Young's Manfredini-esque score - one of the best parts of the feature - sounds excellent.

Finally catching The Dorm That Dripped Blood uncut in such a high quality release from Synapse Films was a very enjoyable experience. I try not to get too nostalgic when reviewing a film but this was one of those movies that was etched into my film-going youth. The Dorm That Dripped Blood is an important piece of the slasher cycle many of us got to witness during that period.

(All screencaps courtesy of . Check them out !)

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