THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (1982) Reviews and overview

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‘When the kidding stops… the killing starts!’

The Dorm That Dripped Blood is a 1982 released American slasher horror film directed by Stephen Carpenter (GrimmServants of TwilightSoul Survivors) and Jeffrey Obrow (Legend of the Mummy; The Kindred; The Power) from a screenplay written by Carpenter and Stacey Giachino. The movie stars Laura Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow, Pamela Holland and Dennis Ely. Also known as  – Pranks

Christopher Young provided the film’s score (his first) and he went on to provide memorable music for Hellraiser, Species, Urban Legend, The Grudge, and Drag Me to Hell.

Opening plot:

Four college students stay on campus over the Christmas holiday to clear out a dormitory that is due for demolition. In the course of their work, they are stalked by an unknown assailant who uses various industrial tools to dispatch his victims…



” …this micro-budget slasher movie offers no one to sympathise with, but it does have some nasty kills (watch out for the spiked baseball bat!) and a mean-spirited ending in which the giggling killer cleverly frames an innocent man for the murders before shoving the unconscious final girl into an incinerator.” Horror Screams Video Vault

“In time-honoured tradition someone suggests they should all ‘split up’ and wander around in the darkness […] There are a few pretty nasty deaths along the way (sadly, there are no javelins in the film), but the ending is the real reason to watch this movie.” Hysteria Lives!

“…The Dorm that Dripped Blood is often wildly illogical and features a magical teleporting killer who wouldn’t be outdone until the much later Scream 2; however, it’s also a lot of fun if you’re in the right mood thanks to some extremely bloody and even shocking kill scenes…” Mondo Digital

“The acting in the movie is quite abysmal. With the exception of Daphne Zuniga (The Initiation, Spaceballs) you’ve likely never heard of any of the cast members. To save their own embarrassment, that’s probably for the best. The directing and writing aren’t very impressive either. Hard to believe it took three screenwriters to write this simplistic mess.” Oh, the Horror!

” …perhaps one of the best of the low budget eighties slashers. Even though the material is pretty derivative, the direction shows promise and the script could have been a lot worse.” Jim Harper, Legacy of Blood: A Comprehensive Guide to Slasher Movies

Legacy of Blood Jim Harper


“A few minor thrills towards the end and just about acceptable production merits (excluding much of the atrocious acting) make this one worth ticking off a completist’s list but it’s certainly nothing more.” Vegan Voorhees

“The kids are given little to do but scream and die.” John Stanley, Creature Features


“It has a seriously dark vibe to it, literally and figuratively. Despite the other title of Pranks, there’s not much to laugh at here as this one is dead serious with little goofiness from its characters, which is a nice change.” Ronnie Angel, Slashed Dreams


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“Certainly not on par with other various campus terrors (1983’s The House on Sorority Row ranks as one of the best), the gore and pace here are admirable and make Dorm worth a brief stay over, at least.” The Terror Trap

“With almost no budget, the team managed to make a film that was remarkably professional in the way it looked. The cinematography showed style that usually takes years or decades to develop. There’s none of the usual amateur mistakes, and you’d be hard pressed to find it not worthy of the rest of the films coming out of that genre and that time.” Upcoming Discs review

“There is a pretty good scare moment set in an elevator and the twist at the end is pretty decent (it would be used again in later slashers such as 1988’s Intruder), but it takes slogging through a lot of “dull” to get there. However, the last five minutes here are golden (involving an incinerator and the giddy dialogue: “you’re a dead man, you hear me? You are dead…”) and a couple of the death scenes aren’t overly bad – the best being one involving a pot of boiling water…” The Video Graveyard

dorm that dripped blood VHS cover

Cast and characters:

Laurie Lapinski … Joanne Murray
Stephen Sachs … Craig
David Snow … Brian
Pamela Holland … Patti
Dennis Ely … Bobby Lee Tremble
Woody Roll … John Hemmit
Daphne Zuniga … Debbie
Jake Jones … Bill Edgar
Robert Fredrickson … Tim (as Robert Frederick)
Chris Morrill … Jack
Chandre … Alice
Billy Criswell … Rick
Richard Cowgill … Debbie’s Father
Kay Beth … Doris, Debbie’s Mother
Jimmy Betz … Officer Lewis


The film was shot primarily on the UCLA campus in and around the film school building, and in the University Cooperative Housing Association. The cinematography was completed using the university’s equipment, and the film was shot primarily on handheld Eclair cameras on 16 mm film, which had to subsequently be blown up to 35 mm.

As it is set, the bulk of the film was shot over Christmas vacation at the university over a period of around three weeks in December 1980 and January 1981, and additional photography was completed over the ensuing six months. The original title of the film was The Third Night and later became Death Dorm after the production wrapped.

Theatrical distribution:

In the United States, the film was released by its distributor under the title Pranks in 1982. After the distributors found the title unsatisfactory and non-conducive to box office sales, the film was re-released as The Dorm That Dripped Blood on September 23, 1983, in forty U.S. locations.


pranks aka dorm that dripped blood british vhs front & back2

To avoid an X rating, the film was cut substantially by the MPAA in the United States.

Originally cited as a ‘video nasty‘ in the UK, Pranks was subsequently removed from the list of banned titles but remains cut most probably because of the drill killing sequence, and for the cover artwork which depicted the spiked bat. It was assumed that the BBFC had worries that because the killing weapon was depicted clearly, it was imitable. It was eventually re-released on video in 1992 with ten seconds of cuts to the aforementioned drill murder.


It was eventually released by Synapse Films under its better-known title on Blu-ray Disc (in a combo pack, containing a DVD copy as well) on April 26, 2011. This Blu-ray release features the original uncensored directors’ cut that had previously never been seen by the public, featuring additional and extended gore and exposition sequences


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