1982’s The Dorm That Dripped Blood has also gone by the name Pranks, which was the title of my DVD copy—which I just upgraded for the newly released Blu-Ray edition when I found out the DVD was an edited version!!! But fear not—High-Def does nothing to improve the dark, grainy, VHS quality of the film.
That said, I might as well get right into the 80s of it all. That is what matters most. First, we have Daphne Zuniga. Daphne IS the 80s. While she’s done several horror movies, her creepiest role has to be as Alex P. Keaton’s girlfriend on Family Ties, considering her lisp is freakishly similar to that of Mallory Keaton, Alex’s sister. Ew…fricking…ew. Who the hell was responsible for that casting?
But Daphne is so much more than the girlfriend of a sister-fetishist Republican. Her other 80s horror includes The Initiation and The Fly II. Add to that Visionquest, The Sure Thing, Modern Girls, and Spaceballs, and she most definitely belongs to we children of the 80s, despite 4 years on Melrose Place in the 90s.
Unfortunately, Daphne gets creamed pretty early on in this slasher….
Next, we have the boys of The Dorm That Dripped Blood. Beautifully feathered hair parted right down the middle, jean jackets, plus tight shirts and uber tight jeans—these guys could have formed a power pop band and been teen idols like Huey Lewis & The News and The Knack. And speaking of music, this film’s musical score is loaded with 80s string stab perfection.
Dorm has some pretty gruesome kills and plenty of Friday the 13th dark atmosphere and killer POVs, even if it suffers from desperate plot devices. It opens with a murder—of a dude. And that’s the last we see or hear of him. The main plot is then that a group of kids has volunteered to stay on campus during Christmas break to clean out an old dorm that is being closed down. Instead, they spend an awful lot of time playing pool. Some weird redhead dude with a wicked 80s fro is lurking around campus, so they believe he is playing destructive pranks on them—like messing up their dinner table. They spend a lot of the film looking for him as well.
There are plenty of kills here. There’s a knife through the finger crotch, a nail spiked bat to the face, a nasty skull puncturing drill to the head (after a terrifying focus on the killer’s hand plugging the powertool into an outlet….), and plenty of gore-iffic body reveals in the end.
And in the realm of irrelevant characters tossed in to direct the plot where the writers want it to go, we are introduced to some dude in his tighty whities who telephones some chick to meet him for a hookup—while his girlfriend is in bed in the next room. The girlfriend tries to persuade him to stay – with a mandatory boob flash – and he responds by telling her he needs a drink. So did I after the hooters horror. Naturally, this wandering cheater ends up at the dorm that dripped blood….
This all leads to one of the worst reveals ever. The killer literally says, “It’s been me the whole time!” I don’t think the final girl—or the audience—is so dumb that we didn’t figure it out. The killer then takes her on a demonstrative tour of each dead body while explaining the motivation behind the murders. Despite this lame exposition, there are a few more surprises and twists to be had…although, at this point in time, they’ve been done before…or should I say, they’ve been done after, considering this film did it before the rash of slashers from the past two decades.
Speaking of being ahead of its time, when watching The Dorm That Dripped Blood, also, watch out for the numerous rainbow flags that appear on the walls of the dorm. Cryptic….