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The Dorm That Dripped Blood(1982)
On the eve of Christmas vacation a college dormitory stands condemned. Student Joanne Murray and her friends volunteer to help close down the building, unaware a psychopathic lunatic is hiding in the shadows.
For more about The Dorm That Dripped Blood and the The Dorm That Dripped Blood Blu-ray release, see the The Dorm That Dripped Blood Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on April 25, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Laurie Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow, P. Holland, Dennis Ely, Daphne Zuniga
Directors: Stephen W. Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow
» See full cast & crew
The Dorm That Dripped Blood Blu-ray Review
No Pranks allowed in this Death Dorm.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, April 25, 2011
You scared me to death.
There's a certain charm in The Dorm That Dripped Blood that's often lacking in other films of its kind. While it may seem to be just another one of the almost innumerable low-level, barely-seen, cult-favorite Slashers from the 1980s -- a decade, one could argue, that has come to be cinematically defined by its Horror pictures both large and small and the culture surrounding them -- it's incredibly unpretentious, serious but not at the expense of fun, and assembled with just the right amount of balance to give it something of a complete and satisfying feel, even if there's really nothing new and the picture lacks the polished façade and kinetic energy of bigger, but not necessarily better, genre films. Maybe better said, it epitomizes everything that's so good about the low-budget micro-Slasher. Questionable acting, not much of a plot, long and dull stretches, and only semi-creative kill scenes might leave most wondering what the fuss is all about, but it's the way the film so effortlessly goes with the flow and so easily pieces together every single stock part -- despite its flaws that are not exclusive but rather problems inherent to the genre at large -- that it's something of a standard-bearer of these sort of pictures, and that it's been practically invisible since its release only adds to the legend and the picture's claim as perhaps the perfect example of the invisible Slasher.
Joanne Murray (Laurie Lapinski) is a perky go-getter who has been assigned the arduous task of removing and inventorying all remaining items from a now-defunct college that's to soon be converted into an apartment complex. With the help of a few friends, the task suddenly doesn't seem so daunting; in fact, it might even be quite a bit of fun! Unfortunately, things don't go quite as planned. Joanne's friend Debbie (Daphne Zuniga) won't be able to stay to help, but even in her absence Joanne and crew manage to get a good start on their task. It's going well until they notice a creepy man wandering around the school; his sudden appearance and apparent lack of reason for being there begins to raise suspicions, and when Joanne's friends begin to turn up dead, the remaining teens set aside their work schedule and focus on tracking down the killer before he can wipe out everyone on campus.
The Dorm That Dripped Blood, also known as Pranks and, now once again, Death Dorm, the title depending on the cut, has earned an undeserved reputation, generally thanks to its inclusion on the infamous "video nasty" list, that's probably given the film too much credit for too much blood and violence that's not really there -- as is the case for most of these movies, at least contextually compared to the massive carnage and stomach-churning prosthetics and special effects of the Saw era -- and that's elevated it into something that it's not. The Dorm That Dripped Blood -- no matter the cut -- is by no means a soft and cuddly movie, but viewers should probably lower their expectations a bit; shots of torsos separated from arms, faces run over by a car, and drills poking into someone's brain may be disturbing and the violence may be explicit, but it's not exactly the kind of stomach-churning nastiness modern genre viewers might have come to expect. If it's not considerably more violent than others of its kind, then, why bother? With a lacking story, sluggish acting, and a choppy low-budget tone, is there reason to choose Death Dorm over any other random 1980s Slasher clone?
Certainly. First is the film's fantastic ending that's maybe the one thing in the entire picture that dares convention and makes the film all the better for it. The juxtaposition between 80-some minutes of standard-fare genre hacking and slashing versus its low key but certainly unique conclusion make the picture well worth the effort, no matter the positives or negatives of any of the surrounding qualities and intangibles. In a more general examination, Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow handle the film with neither great style nor such a heavy hand so as to ruin the movie. Death Dorm is composed of the sort of shadowy atmosphere that makes movies like this so effective yet so repetitive and even redundant, but the directors balance the film so as not to allow it to become too generically atmospheric for its own good. The characters are relatively flat, the identity of the killer doesn't come as much of a surprise once the ball gets rolling, and the dialogue through most of the picture is clumsy at best, but Death Dorm nevertheless hunkers down in its final act with some genuine scares and performances that, even through some hackneyed dialogue, manage to engender an honest and fearful sensation both on-screen and within the audience.
The Dorm That Dripped Blood Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Dorm That Dripped Blood's 1080p transfer will never be mistaken for a shiny new release of a big-budget studio Horror film, but Synapse has pulled out all the stops and given this cult favorite a makeover that will more than satisfy -- maybe even shock -- viewers who have been stuck watching bootlegged VHS or DVD copies over the years. The image is remarkably clean, retaining a heavy layer of grain but leaving out all but a trace amount of speckles, splotches, and scratches. Only minor background blocking and practically no banding are present. Detailing is adequate; the image is generally soft and fuzzy, but the 1080p resolution and grain retention certainly help to bring out every nuance inherent within the source. Colors are fairly dull but stable, flesh tones are mostly accurate, and blacks never veer towards a gray, overly bright, or washed out appearance, though crush is regularly evident. This is a fairly strong presentation all things considered; as with any release of this vintage and style, expectations are key, and Synapse has surpassed every reasonable one of them.
The Dorm That Dripped Blood Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Dorm That Dripped Blood arrives on Blu-ray with an adequate DTS-HD MA 2.0 lossless soundtrack. The front channels, of course, carry the load, but despite the absence of greater spacing and a finer sense of envelopment, the track still delivers a stable listen that certainly shows some wear and tear but nevertheless manages to impress more than disappoint. Music can be a bit shrilly and unkempt at the top of the range, but is otherwise mostly crisp in a throwback sort of way. Sound effects are stable if not a bit crunchy and ungainly from time to time. Ambience is limited, but dialogue is fairly strong and center-focused. There's not much to this track, but listeners will enjoy the boost in clarity thanks to the lossless presentation.
The Dorm That Dripped Blood Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Dorm That Dripped Blood features a few extras, headlined by an audio commentary track.
The Dorm That Dripped Blood Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Synapse is well on its way to becoming the next cult sensation Blu-ray studio. The Dorm That Dripped Blood's Blu-ray release has a decidedly Blue Underground flair to it, both in terms of the film's content -- recalling pictures like The Prowler and Maniac -- and the quality of the release. Expecting much better than what Synapse has provided would be unrealistic; the studio has endeavored to offer Slasher connoisseurs the finest Death Dorm presentation possible, going so far as to delay the release to ensure the highest available quality. The picture and sound elements are admittedly rough, but film enthusiasts and viewers with the proper expectations will likely be ecstatic with what what Synapse has done for this little under-the-radar gem. A few extras round this release into form as a must-buy for hardcore genre fans. Recommended, and keep an eye on Synapse.
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The Dorm That Dripped Blood Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Dorm That Dripped Blood Blu-ray Coming Up - December 3, 2010
Fangoria is reporting that, on March 8, Synapse Films will release the 1982 slasher movie The Dorm That Dripped Blood, on a Blu-ray/DVD combo, featuring the uncut director's cut. Synapse's Don May, Jr. explained that this version will include "footage that no one ...
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