aka: The Dorm That Dripped Blood, Death Dorm
Director: Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow
Starring: Laurie Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow, Pamela Holland, Dennis Ely
When the kidding stops… the killing starts!
A group of young friends are staying behind at their dorm over the winter to renovate the place, while still enjoying their free time by partying and having fun with each other. One of the girls notices a strange and creepy guy lurking around the place one night and the gang can’t decide if it is a stranger that has no business being around the place or if it is in fact one of them that are playing a scary prank on the others.
Pranks, or The Dorm That Dripped Blood as it is also known as, is another slasher film that came out during the slasher craze of the early 80’s. It had an estimated budget of a little below $100,000 and was filmed in Los Angeles, California. It is not a slasher film that is able to set itself apart from others, and if it wasn’t for the fact that it ended up becoming one of the Video Nasties in the UK, then it would probably have been an obscure horror film by now.
It’s really such an unremarkable slasher that by writing this review a week after actually seeing the film I had to wonder what really happened in it. It follows the early 80’s formula and doesn’t achieve anything special when it comes to gore, suspense or even fun factor. The inspiration from the successful films such as Halloween and Friday the 13th are very obvious in it and it more or less feels like a student project done well instead of a project that was meant to push the subgenre further.
The characters aren’t anything special and many of them are simply there to be butchered by the killer. While some of the actors come off as likeable, no one stands out from the rest. The gore effects are decent enough but nothing shocking or grim enough to make anyone feel uncomfortable while watching the film, except a well made drilling scene. There’s not that much thought put into the dialogue or the script work on this film and the big twist at the end doesn’t work very well. I should also add that the music is pretty good and would fit right in on any of the Friday the 13th movies.
The most interesting part of the film for me is the creators behind it. The young duo that both wrote (together with Stacey Giachino) and directed the film was Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow. They would continue to work together during the 80’s and was able to improve their skills with The Power and The Kindred. In 1991 the pair made a film I always thought was underrated called Servants of Twilight. They went their separate ways after that, but both are able to work and they have been involved in projects such as Legend of the Mummy, the action / comedy Blue Streak and also the TV show Grimm.
Pranks is sadly too much of a generic slasher to be memorable or even fun. Most horror fans will feel very familiar with this and have probably seen several better made slashers than this. For completists of the subgenre only.