The Dorm That Dripped Blood – film, USA, 1981: film reviews

‘When the kidding stops… the killing starts!’

The Dorm That Dripped Blood – aka Pranks – is a 1981 (released April 1982) American slasher horror feature film directed by Stephen Carpenter (GrimmServants of TwilightSoul Survivors) and Jeffrey Obrow (Legend of the Mummy; The Kindred; The Power), and written by Carpenter and Stacey Giachino. The movie stars Laura Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow, Pamela Holland and Dennis Ely.

Made for just $90,000 by the ex-UCLA students, the film’s working title was Death Dorm.

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 who stay on campus over the Christmas holiday to clear out a dormitory which 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…



“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! review

“…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 review

“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! review

” …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.” Hudson Lee, Vegan Voorhees review

“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.” Gino Sessani, 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


pranks aka dorm that dripped blood british vhs front & back2

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 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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Cast and characters:

  • Laurie Lapinski as Joanne Murray
  • Stephen Sachs as Craig
  • David Snow as Brian
  • Pamela Holland as Patty
  • Dennis Ely as Bobby Lee Tremble
  • Woody Rollas John Hemmit
  • Daphne Zuniga as Debbie – The Fly II; The Initiation
  • Jake Jones as Bill Edgar
  • Robert Fredrickson as Tim (as Robert Frederick)
  • Chris Morrill as Jack
  • Chandre as Alice
  • Billy Criswell as Rick
  • Richard Cowgill as Debbies Father
  • Kay Beth as Debbies Mother
  • Jimmy Betz as Officer Lewis
  • Thomas Christian as Officer Dean
  • Robert Richardson as Policeman
  • Chris Schroeder as Policeman
  • Leesa Gallentine as Nancy [uncredited]

Image credits: AlchetronMondo Digital

dorm that dripped blood VHS cover

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