Although John Carpenter really didn’t “invent” the subgenre of horror films known as “slashers,” he certainly couldn’t have imagined the path the bloody take on murder mysteries would have pursued after his surprise smash hit, Halloween, proved to be a sensation worldwide. Based off of those oh-so-delectable Italian giallo movies, the slasher film movement in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s usually consisted of nothing more than coeds running around getting butchered in all sorts of grisly and unusual ways.
Halloween certainly built the frame and installed the door. The original Friday The 13th succeeded in opening Carpenter’s portal of blood. Once that initial entry in the Camp Crystal Lake franchise hit theaters, though — bringing with it the sort of critical and parental uproar that can make just about any movie successful (there’s no such thing as bad publicity, remember?) — the slasher industry really took off. As a result, many independent and would-be filmmakers started generating their own slasher films that had their entirely different grisly and (where applicable) unusual coed killings. And, while all of them hoped they would employ and subsequently enjoy a memorable killing at the box office, only a few ultimately succeeded.
Was The Dorm That Dripped Blood one of them? Most certainly, yes. Better known as Pranks in some areas, The Dorm That Dripped Blood was shot on a budget so thrifty that to even call it a “shoestring” would be arresting. In that respect, film students/first time filmmakers Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter (no relation to John) were sure to make their money back. Their parsimonious brilliance in setting their film in a soon-to-be abandoned college dorm eliminated the costly need to build any sets. Win. And, to top it all off, they had a minimalistic cast of non-actors and complete unknowns (including a young Daphne Zuniga); people whose very acting (in)abilities cause viewers to wholly route for their demise.