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

Synapse Films makes Blu drip red with this HD release of The Dorm That Dripped Blood presented in an Uncensored Director's Cut for the first time ever!

  • Director: Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter
  • Starring: Daphne Zuniga, Laurie Lapinski, Stephen Sachs
  • Year: 1982
  • Runtime: 88 Minutes
  • Company: Synapse Films
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Discs: BD: 1 - 50GB / DVD: 1
  • Video: 1.67:1 - 1080p - AVC
  • Audio: English 2.0 DTS HD
  • Region: All
  • Released: 4/26/2011

Five college students led by Joanne (Laura Lapinski) are tasked to clean up an abandoned dorm building due to be demolished soon. At the last minute, Debbie (a very young Daphne Zuniga) has to return home but not before a quick check down in the basement. Debbie's parents tire of waiting prompting her father to search for her so they can hit the road. Her parents meet a grizzly demise as the father is beat over the head several times with a spiked baseball bat and the mother is strangled by the mysterious assailant. Upon discovering her dead parents, Debbie has her head run over by the family car resulting in a trifecta of blood shed. Joanne and the crew soon learn there is something sinister happening around the dorm that may or may not be caused by frizzy haired weirdo John Hemmit. Welcome to the Dorm That Dripped Blood.
Made by UCLA film students Jeffrey Orbow & Stephen Carpenter in 1982 with little money, Dorm is a grim slasher that deserves more credit than most seminal 80's horrors. Sporting a great title, DIY gore effects and a moody tone leading up to a bleak ending I'd say Dorm has now become one of my favorite slasher films of it's era. Having watched it twice now I love the vibe the setting gives off thanks to the grimy dormitory surroundings. Although it's set during Christmas time, I forgot about that since it's not prominent in the film at all. Instead of green and red Christmas lights we get soft blue's and muddy blacks to add to the overall feel that really works in it's favor. Add first time film composer (now score legend) Christopher Young to homage Bernard Herrmann's Psycho sound and you have a dark, fun, bloody horror film.
The characters aren't completely memorable or even likeable to be honest. Craig (Stephen Sachs) is a prankster dick, Patti & Brian are simply killer bait and Joanne isn't a final girl you're rooting for. Good for us gore hounds since there are plenty of memorable kills throughout. Along with the aforementioned death scenes we get a nasty drill to the head, knife slicing and even a boiling cooker kill. The killer stays busy leading to surprising twist turn and a "smokey" finale that tops off the dark tone.
The original title was Death Dorm (which is the title used here) then changed again to Pranks thanks to unruly censors. The infamous title came about after it was sold to distributors who changed it to garner more attention. After 30 years of cut, truncated versions, Synapse has rescued it from obscurity to release it the way it was intended to be. I couldn't image watching this without the crude murders, particularly the power drill and spiked bat kills. Having them fully restored in and HD Director's Cut is truly a blessing . In my opinion it is an essential watch for any horror fan looking to satisfy their appetite. With this excellent release, The Dorm That Dripped Blood can now be rediscovered in all of it's gory glory.

    • Video
    Cut to smithereens by the UK and marred with a dark muddy VHS in America, Dorm That Dripped Blood has finally been given it's due thanks to Synapse Films. Presented for the first time ever in an Extended Uncensored Director's Cut, it is definitely the best it has ever and possibly will look. Shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm, only so much can be done but it is fantastic nonetheless. Synapse used an uncut 35mm answer print unknowingly discovered and provided by director Jeffrey Obrow. It's particularly grainy with not much detail which has to be the intended look of the film but you can finally enjoy what is happening without guessing or squinting your eyes. The palette suits it and this 1080p HD transfer faithfully represents that. Don May and Synapse must be praised for their work here as they continue to prove why they are the best cult company around.
    • Audio
    DTS-HD 2.0 does it's best given the circumstances. It's a nice mix rendering clear dialogue and nicely showcasing Christopher Young's score. Loud where it needs to be and nothing more which is just fine.

    Bonus Features
    • Audio Commentary - Directors Jeff Obrow & Stephen Carpenter
    Directors Jeffery Obrow & Stephen Carpenter deliver a interesting and insightful track that never lost my interest. For being made 30 years ago they remember quite a bit and offer some great anecdotes about making they're first film. A fine commentary track that is informative throughout.
    • Interview - "My First Score"
    Film Composer Christopher Young (Hellraiser, Drag Me to Hell) candidly discusses working on his first score. Young seems like a great fella and tells some great stories centered around the film. Red Shirt Pictures always produces fantastic supplemental material and this is no exception.
    • Interview - "My First Slasher"
    Make-Up FX Creator Matthew Mungle (Bram Stoker's Dracula) reminisces about creating the practical gory effects on a shoestring budget. It's a shame his work was cut due to censors but it's great to see it all uncut now. Another great interview produced by Red Shirt Pictures.
    • Isolated Music Track
    • Reversible Cover Art
    An optional alternate artwork under the title Pranks is included. Very cool to have the choice of two covers, and is an added bonus to an already superb release.