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The Dorm That Dripped Blood (alternately released as Pranks; originally titled Death Dorm)[3][4][unreliable source?] is a 1982 American slasher film directed by Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow, and written by Carpenter and Stacey Giachino.[5] It stars Laura Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow and Pamela Holland as four college students who stay on campus over the Christmas holiday to clear out a dormitory which is due for renovation. In the course of their work they are stalked by an unknown assailant who uses various industrial tools to dispatch his victims. It features actress Daphne Zuniga in her film debut.

The Dorm That Dripped Blood
The Dorm That Dripped Blood FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical poster
Directed byStephen Carpenter
Jeffrey Obrow
Produced byStacey Giachio
Jeffrey Obrow
Written byStephen Carpenter
Stacey Giachino
Screenplay byStephen Carpenter
Jeffrey Obrow
Stacey Giachino
Laura Lapinski
Music byChristopher Young
CinematographyStephen Carpenter
Edited by
Stephen Carpenter
  • Jeffrey Obrow
Jeff Obrow Productions
Distributed byNew Image Releasing[1]
Release date
  • September 23, 1983 (1983-09-23)[1]
Running time
84 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Box office$215,000 +[1]

The film was initially deemed to be a video nasty in the United Kingdom, but was later removed from the list.


The film opens with a young man fleeing from an unseen pursuer. Hiding in the bushes, he seems to have escaped until he is grabbed from behind and killed. Joanne and her boyfriend Tim attend a college party, with Joanne talking about how the building (Morgan Meadows Hall) is to be renovated before being demolished. She along with friends Bryan, Patty, Craig and Debbie, are staying behind during the Christmas holiday to help clear out the building for its impending renovation into private apartments. Tim leaves the next day for a skiing trip, while Debbie reveals that she cannot stay as her parents are picking her up later in the day.

Debbie's parents arrive in the evening and wait for Debbie (who is searching for Joanne's inventory list). Her father gets impatient and leaves the car to find her, only to be murdered with a spiked baseball bat by an unseen killer. Her mother is then strangled in the car with thin wire. Debbie finds them dead, and faints in horror. The killer moves her body and crushes her head by backing the car over it. He then places all the bodies in the car and drives off.

The next day, Patty sees a strange man hanging out by the dumpsters, John Hemmit, who is not supposed to be at the dorm. Later that day, the caretaker Bill complains that one of his drills has been stolen, while Joanne muses that it was John. Joanne then meets Bobby Lee Tremble, a local salesman who is purchasing some of the tables from the dorm. Not long after, Bill is killed in the toilets with the stolen drill. Craig and Bryan see John walking by the dorm and try to warn him away. The group play pool in the evening but Patty sees John peering it at them through a window and freaks out. Deciding to take matters into their own hands, the group decide to search for him around the building, but are unsuccessful in finding him.

The group prepare dinner, when Craig notices some of the food is missing and he sees John fleeing. While the group search again for him, the killer smashes up their dinner with the spiked bat. Returning and seeing the carnage, they call the police and report John. Later that night, Joanne hears footsteps on the roof of the dorm and calls the others to her room when the power cuts out. On his way to the room, Bryan encounters someone shining a torch in his face, before he is attacked. Patty and Craig make it to Joanne's room but Bryan does not show up, so Joanne stays behind while Craig and Patty go downstairs to try to reconnect the power. In the kitchen, they get separated and Patty is grabbed from behind and knocked unconscious by the killer, who then drops her into an industrial pressure cooker and closes the lid.

Craig makes it back to Joanne's room, claiming he'd been knocked out and that he cannot find Patty anywhere. Joanne is eventually cornered by Hemmit while she discovers Bryan's mutilated corpse in a storage room. She flees from him and makes it back to Craig, when they both team up and manage to kill him. At this point, Craig reveals that he was in fact the killer the whole time, and that John knew and was trying to warn Joanne. After being chased by him, Joanne is shown the corpses of Patty, Debbie and her family while Craig explains that he loves her and got rid of anyone who clung to her or ruined his chances with her.

Joanne attempts to flee again, when Bobby Lee turns up. Craig knocks Joanne out and is then cornered by Bobby. The police turn up however and believe Bobby is the prowler the group had reported and shoot him down when he attempts to kill Craig. The police leave to get reinforcements and medical help, while Craig resolves to kill Joanne as he knows he will never have her. With her still unconscious, he dumps her body into an incinerator and seemingly escapes, while the police outside wonder if the smoke (from the incinerator) should smell so bad.


  • 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
  • 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 Debbie's Father
  • Kay Beth as Debbie's Mother
  • Jimmy Betz as Officer Lewis
  • Thomas Christian as Officer Dean
  • Robert Richardson as Policeman
  • Chris Schroeder as Policeman
  • Leesa Gallentine as Nancy (uncredited)


Conception and castingEdit

Inspired by Friday the 13th, Stephen Carpenter co-wrote the script with Stacey Giachino while films students at the University of California, Los Angeles.[6] The original title of the film was The Third Night, and later became Death Dorm after the production wrapped.[7] To secure funding for the film, Obrow and Carpenter shot footage for a pre-emptive promotional trailer in order to pitch the film to investors.[8]

Casting was done by Obrow and Carpenter independent of a casting director, as they could not afford to hire one.[9] In the film, the casting director is credited as "Wesley Lou David," which is an amalgam of the directors' and producers' middles names.[10]


The film was shot primarily on the UCLA campus in and around the film school building, and in the University Cooperative Housing Association.[11] The cinematography was completed using the university's equipment, and the film was shot primarily on handheld Eclair cameras[12] on 16 mm film, which had to subsequently be blown up to 35 mm.[13]

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.[14]



To avoid an X rating, the film was cut substantially by the MPAA in the United States, and by the BBFC in the United Kingdom, with portions of the murder scenes truncated or nearly edited out entirely.[15] The murder scene of Debbie's father with the spiked baseball bat was significantly trimmed down to show only one or two blows to the head, and the footage of the maintenance man being drilled through the head with the power drill was excised entirely.[16]

Upon the film's release in the United Kingdom (under the title Pranks), it was deemed to be a video nasty, most probably because of the drill killing sequence,[17] and for the cover artwork which depicted the spiked baseball bat. It was assumed that the BBFC had worries that, because the killing weapon was depicted clearly, it was imitable. However, the film was not successfully prosecuted and was removed from the list. It was eventually re-released on video in 1992 with ten seconds of cuts to the aforementioned drill murder.

Theatrical distributionEdit

In the United States, the film was released by its distributor under the title Pranks in 1982, altered from Carpenter and Obrow's original title, Death Dorm.[3] 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[18] on September 23, 1983, in 40 U.S. theaters.[1] In its opening weekend, the film grossed a total of $215,000.[1] In the United Kingdom, it was released exclusively under the Pranks title through New Line Cinema.[1]

Critical receptionEdit

In a retrospective assessment of the film, journalist Jim Harper called the film "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."[2] Film journalist Adam Rockoff gave the film a negative assessment, calling it a "bland and uninspired slasher," adding: "The Dorm That Dripped Blood attempts one meager stab at originality by killing off the Final Girl in the film's last scene. This unnecessary, downbeat ending is actually a relief, for it signals not only an end to her annoying self-righteousness, but to the film as a whole."[19]

The Dorm That Dripped Blood holds an approval rating of 0% on movie review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on five critic reviews.[20]

Cavett Binion of AllMovie qualified it as a "derivative slasher clone," awarding it 1.5 out of 5 stars.[21]TV Guide awarded the film 1 out of a possible 5 stars, calling it " Utterly predictable and full of infuriating red herrings".[22]Horror film review website Oh, the Horror! criticized the film's writing, direction, and "abysmal" acting but complimented the film's score and gore effects.[23] Film scholar John Stanley, in Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide (2000), awarded the film one out of five stars.[24]

Home mediaEdit

It was originally available on DVD in the U.S. under its original title Pranks[25] and was eventually released under its better known title on Blu-ray (in a combo pack, containing a DVD copy as well) on April 26, 2011. This Blu-ray release features the original 88-minute uncensored directors' cut, titled Death Dorm, that had previously never been seen by the public, featuring additional and extended gore and exposition sequences.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "The Dorm That Dripped Blood". American Film Institute Catalog. Retrieved May 20, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Harper 2004, p. 84.
  3. ^ a b Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:57:26)
  4. ^ "The Dorm That Dripped Blood". The Grindhouse Database. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  5. ^ Perry, Daniel. "Review: The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982)". RetroSlashers. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  6. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:01:31)
  7. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:01:50)
  8. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:47:30)
  9. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:04:21)
  10. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:04:59)
  11. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:07:47)
  12. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:09:59)
  13. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:54:10)
  14. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:10:41)
  15. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:15:45)
  16. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:16:09)
  17. ^ Carpenter & Obrow (2011) (0:41:40)
  18. ^ "Film". San Bernardino County Sun. October 7, 1983. p. 35 – via (subscription required)
  19. ^ Rockoff 2011, p. 133.
  20. ^ "The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982) – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  21. ^ Binion, Cavett. "The Dorm That Dripped Blood (1982)". AllMovie. Retrieved May 19, 2015.      
  22. ^ "The Dorm That Dripped Blood Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV TV Guide. Retrieved July 12, 2016.      
  23. ^ "Horror Reviews – Dorm That Dripped Blood, The (1982)". Oh, the Wes R. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
  24. ^ Stanley, John (2000). Creature Features: The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Movie Guide. Berkley Boulevard Books. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-425-17517-0.
  25. ^ Amazon
  26. ^ "The Dorm That Dripped Blood". Amazon. Retrieved October 21, 2017.

Works citedEdit

External linksEdit