COED is counting down to Halloween with “Horror U,” a Halloween-ready celebration of 31 killer fright flicks set on (or around) college campuses. Your professor scare-meritus for today’s entry is Mike “McBeardo” McPadden–author of Heavy Metal Movies: Guitar Barbarians, Mutant Bimbos, & Cult Zombies Amok in the 666 Most Ear- and Eye-Ripping Big Scream Films Ever! (Bazillion Points, 2014).
The Dorm That Dripped Blood–also known as the less college-specific Pranks–is a cheap horror movie shot by actual students on campus during their Christmas break. It’s also about students on campus during Christmas break. But instead of contending with pilfered shots and faulty borrowed film equipment, the kids in the movie are up against a holiday-hating homicidal maniac whose weapon of choice is a spiked baseball bat and whose preferred footwear is Chuck Taylors. Ho-ho-ho! You know how these things go.
Dorm‘s heroine, coed Joanne Murray (Laurie Lipinski, in her one and only credited film role), is eschewing a trip home to refurbish the co-op dormitory, along with a handful of other typically vulnerable classmates and one supremely killable handyman. In the meantime, fluffy-coiffed drifter John Hemmit (Woody Roll, whose hair is even weirder than his name) ambles, rambles and dumpster dives outside, radiating a general too-creepy-to-be-the-actual-killer vibe (wait… or is he?).
In her big screen debut, Daphne Zuniga (Princess Vespa in Spaceballs; one of your mom’s favorites from Melrose Place) gets her pretty young head spectacularly car-squashed early on. Other memorable dispatch devices include a pressure cooker, a power drill, and piano wire. By the time we get to the shockingly grim ending, this Dorm not only drips blood, it oozes nihilistic doom and the smoke of wrongful human sacrifice. Heavy holidays, everybody.
Although it’s largely fallen between the gashes of familiar slasher franchises such as Halloween and Friday the 13th or even memorable one-offs like Maniac and Madman, The Dorm That Dripped Blood works as an effectively executed hair-raiser of its day, heightened by scary use of empty campus scenery and the energy of college dudes just making a go of making a movie.
From such humble a on-the-fly beginning, Dorm went on to play movie theaters, got banned in England as a “Video Nasty”, ran on cable throughout the ’80s, and has recently been issued as a special edition Blu-ray. Co-directors Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow graduated from here on to fruitful showbiz careers, and deservedly so.
What Dorm does not drip with, even a drop, is any “Pranks”, per se, so who knows what they were going for with that misleading other name? You crazy college kids….