Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982)

Finally I can throw away my old crap-deluxe DVD version of The Dorm That Dripped Blood and erase every memory of all the even crappier VHS-versions I’ve seen, because the new Synapse edition is so good it’s just not worth watching any other version. The cool thing is that the directors dug up, without knowing it, their original uncut version of the movie – before distributors and other idiots raped the movie with their bright ideas. Not that the movie itself offers anything new, but it’s an ambitious and very gritty slasher which carved itself a nice place in slasher-history.

A bunch of students volunteers to stay behind before Christmas vacation to clear out their old dorm. It’s one of those high rise apartment buildings and not the typical picturesque villa with some silly Greek letters on the front. So this means there’s a lot more places for a serial killer to hide, which is exactly what happens – and one by one the students fall victim for the sadistic unknown killer!

It’s a by-the-numbers slasher-story, but it works a lot better than most of the others because it has a very gritty, well-shot, cinematography, realistic and natural sets and a cast of actors that might not be the best crop from the local acting school, but gives us someone to root and care for. The two directors make an excellent job with a very small budget and inject a lot of life into the scenes, with intelligent use of the camera and atmospheric lightning. I really enjoy the small and cramped locations, which make everything so much dangerous. You can’t just escape from the house that easy, not without going up or down dark stairs, taking a short-cut thru creepy basements and knowing that if the killer chases you up on the roof, there’s no chance in hell you can jump down from there. It’s just a very smart and fun place to film a slasher movie.

How about the gore then? Yes, it’s cheap and very effective. From a nice hand-slicing, some stabbings here and there and of course the main show-stopper, a drawn out drill to the head-kill which is damn gory and graphic. The spiked baseball bat-kill is very nasty too. But compared to, for example, Friday the 13th part 4 or The Prowler it’s not much of course. Even if the effects aren’t that realistic the editing and composition of the shots make them a lot better than if less talented people should have done it.

The Synapse DVD/Blu-Ray combo is excellent. The print (which bears the even better title, Death Dorm!) is grainy, but with nice colors and sound. Every frame looks like something from Eli Roth’s Thanksgivning or Edgar Wright’s Don’t, gritty and nasty and with a lot of great shots which all fits perfect in a Grindhouse-trailer. Maybe the finest and most loving genre-release so far in 2011!