The Dorm that Dripped Blood (1982)

When the kidding stops... the killing starts!
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The Dorm that Dripped Blood - When the kidding stops... the killing starts!

Another movie banned in the UK during the Video Nasties hysteria in the 1980's is Pranks, probably better known as The Dorm that Dripped Blood. Directors Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow deliver another slasher quite stereotypical of the era, a time when slashers didn't require numb-nut panic-stricken cheerleaders, a nerd, a trio of pot-heads and a supernatural mascot brimming with witty one-liners. Unfortunately what The Dorm that Dripped Blood boasts in authenticity it lacks in originality and although it is a solid movie with some nice scares and a worthy yet predictable twist, it is easily overlookable amongst the more innovative stand out slashers of the time such as Halloween, Friday the 13th , Sleepaway Camp and Happy Birthday to Me.

The movie contains all of the ingredients necessary for an eighties slasher, bad haircuts, bad clothes and bad side-to-side, bent-elbow dancing... and of course the superfluous death of the innocent. The bloody body count is quite slow to start but there is a nice tension build up and when the bodies start piling up it is quite a bloody mess even though most of the butchery happens off screen. Also, unlike many modern slashers, the victims do not deserve to die which always adds an element of dismay to the watching experience above and beyond seeing small-beer drinking, one-skin joint smoking, spoilt, egotistically inflated, douche-bag students getting the disembowelling comeuppance they deserve. When the viewer it treated to some gore the effects are quite convincing but the effect makers know their limitations and leave a lot of the killings to the imagination, just displaying the resulting injuries. The victims are dispatched in numerous ways, involving power tools and spiked bats, which is another common slasher mechanism but still quite novel for the time. The directors make use of the "killer's point of view" camera angle during the slaughter but this kind of gives away that there is going to be a twist and that makes the twist easier to work out before it happens as you begin to look for one rather than just accepting what is happening as a run of the mill stalk and stash.

The story is quite simple, some goody two-shoes students (ok... maybe they do deserve to die) volunteer to close Morgan Meadows Hall as it is due for demolition. The students are all alone except for the probably retarded scary-haired guy lurking around who is possibly a bum or a caretaker or something. Things start to get creepy and scary-hair guy always seems to be lurking in the vicinity when the creepiness occurs. One by one the students begin to die at the hands of some deranged maniac with an imagination for killing and a hatred for roast chicken dinners, utilizing various execution methods such as steam cookers and drills. Yes, there is a twist but it won't be revealed here.

Towards the end it does get a bit intense for an early eighties movie, compared to some of the fuckedupness in horror movies nowadays it is quite tame but back then it was probably like the moment Ben Grimm decides to make doggy sex into donkey-punch sex and unfortunately after that there is a moment of momentum loss with the only saving grace being an ending that doesn't involve the underprivileged girl marrying a handsome prince with a mansion, a yacht and the penis of Joseph Merrick.

The Dorm that Dripped Blood will probably go down in the history books due to the instant infamy that a movie gets propelled to due to being on the Video Nasty List and, whilst it was probably a cool slasher at the time it would have never reached the status that a number of the slasher-now-franchises have reached nowadays within the horror community. There is nothing bad to say about this movie but there are also no underwear stain moments that will stick with you for life ruining every comfortable couch moment where you happen to remember The Dorm that Dripped Blood. The acting is not bad compared to numerous other slashers (except the compulsory bad acting cops), the effects are good within the recognized limitations and the soundtrack is quite effective at summoning up a tense atmosphere. On top of that the movie has one of those endings that only a warped horror lover could raise a smile about but there is something lacking originality-wise, possibly because a number of better marketed movies do the same sort of thing and this one has been overlooked until the more popular viewing has been exhausted or possibly because the killer was not the most conspicuous anti-hero to grace the screens of horror fans and would have had his ass handed to him on a paper plate by Mr. Myers, Mr. Voorhees and even Ms. Wainwright. Definitely worth seeing but at least once for the nostalgia of the good old days when slasher tried to scare rather than amuse.
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