Inspired by Friday the 13th, Stephen Carpenter and Stacey Giachino wrote the script for this film while students at UCLA under the title The Third Night, which later became Death Dorm.
We start with a man running from someone, then hiding in the bushes, before he’s attacked from behind and murdered. Yep — get ready to meet one of the more downbeat slashers you’ll find. To quote Jim Morrison, “Nobody gets out alive.”
Laurie Lapinski — in her one and only role — plays Joanne, a college student staying behind over the holidays to clean up Morgan Meadows Hall before its demolished.
Of her friends, only Daphne Zuniga, in her very first role, may be the only actor you’d recognize. She plays Debbie, whose parents show up only to be murdered with a spiked baseball bat and strangled (not at the same time, mind you). Then, as if that wasn’t enough, the killer drives their car over poor Debbie’s head.
This movie sets up more red herrings than a giallo, with drifters and traveling salesmen fingered as the manic.Along the way, a drill and a pressure cooker get used as the real killer uses the confusion to continually kill more innocent people.
So what was the motive? Love. Well, the kind of love incels have for women that we didn’t understand all the way back in 1982. Of course she should be happy he killed all of these people for her!
I won’t tell you who the killer is, but I will say that you have to like a movie willing to end on the down note of its final girl shoved into an incinerator and leaving behind foul-smelling smoke. You also have to love a movie that completely apes its title from The House That Dripped Blood.
This movie was released in the UK as Pranks, where it was placed on the category 2 video nasty list. It must have been all the nail-covered baseball bats. UK censors are particularly squeamish about weapons that kids can easily get their hands on.
Synapse has released the Death Dorm director’s cut and all of the censored gore on a great blu ray release. It’s not the best slasher you’ll ever see, but it’s certainly worth a watch.