Movie review: The dorm that dripped blood(1982)
by, 02-05-2012 at 05:08 PM (24645 Views)
Although my college dorm didn't drip blood, the guy I shared a bathroom with did. Actually, it trickled, more than it dripped, and it wasn't the right color for blood. The first time I saw the stuff, it looked little more than a puddle of some thin, cream-based soup. A chowder, perhaps a bisque, with little chives in it. When I asked my roommate about it, he said that all he really knew was that it tasted kind of salty and he was scooping about a spoonful of it out of his bellybutton every couple of hours.
Though I didn't like where the stuff came from(or who it came from, for that matter), I tried not to worry about it. Whatever it was, it seemed harmless enough. I just had to remember to wash the stuff away before I stepped in the shower every morning. Eventually, though, the bottoms of my feet began to peel and blister, and a crust formed around the drain that proved resistant to all store bought acids that were available (in Fort Collins, at least, a pretty soft city for Colorado).
A friend of mine, who was very much into all that organic, homeopathic butt-pluggery, advised me to make a poultice to protect my feet from a mixture of crushed mustard seeds, epsom salt and alum. I tried to remember all of the ingredients, but at about the sixtieth impossible-to-find-in-a-red-state herb, I started jotting the list down on my forearm with a green ink pen of mine that I used, mostly, to doodle naked chicks and dancing teddy bears in my notebook during class. I stopped writing, however, when we reached 'blood of a baby dragon'.
My dorm was pretty interesting, really. It was the building where they stuck all of the foreign kids – about half of the immigrants were Chinese boys who were too timid to look you in the eye, while the other half was South American girls who weren't afraid to put their tongue in places usually reserved for bowel evacuation. So, I could always get help with my math homework, although it was hard to pay attention when I knew Carmen Dominguez was all alone in her room(hopefully eating hot peppers). I was a freshman, who, for some reason, was thought to belong somewhere in between those two demographics(which one I was closer to being, I'm still not sure of). Though there were never any murders in my building, during Halloween week, the American half of the dorm's population hung up pictures of famous serial killers in the hallway. I stuck up a photo of Vanilla Ice.
Two major events threw the dorm into a buzz that year. The first was when some guy posted photocopies of his dick all over the place. It was pretty impressive, ten inches or so, and right underneath, written in sloppy magic marker, was his cell phone number. The Chinese kids, for obvious reasons, had no idea what it was. They simply had no frame of reference, although their minds probably swirled with theories. I think they, finally, decided it was some kind of eel, ready for chopping and woking. I wonder if it made their mouths water.
I did have a frame of reference, however. Back in high school, a guy of similar biological fortune(a football player, of course), used to enjoy swinging his thingy from side-to-side so it could take a peek all the way around his waist, while spraying us with piss like some circus trick shot, forcing everyone into the kneeling duck-and-cover position. It was less a penis, really, than some kind of gross animal sidekick you'd see on a Saturday morning cartoon.
Idiot mistaking pocket fisherman for flashlight
I'd like to think there was some kind of judicial force in the universe, one that took note of such behavior and made sure proper dues were paid him in the future. I find that unlikely, however. Such thoughts are dangerous, for they beguile us with their justness, and guys with a looser grasp on the reigns of their sanity find themselves compelled to be the avenging angels that god never sent forth. I'm sure you've heard about such guys in the news. No. The truth usually sucks Richard. That guy had it great, and probably still does.
Hard truths should be faced. That we were wrong about all those sweet, doe-eyed and creamy skinned girls we had our lame fantasies about, the ones who were popular, but never dressed slutty, who said hello to you in the hallway, even when surrounded by their also popular friends. In rare, frank discussions we had about love and our romantic futures, we imagined these girls were innocent and good, because their smiles stopped us in our tracks and their laughter made our hearts flutter. These were the kinds of girls we admitted to each other, with blushes and goofy grins, that we day dreamed about marrying someday and would worship for the rest of our lives, if they would just have us. As High School ground on, we found out, time and time again, that these girls did bubonic things on Megadick's waterbed, a glimpse of which would have given us all nightmares of envy.
This segues nicely into the second noteworthy incident, which occurred at the tail-end of the school year, which is known, nowadays, as The Columbine Massacre(See? There was a point to all of that. You just had to hang on). Littleton, Colorado was just a pleasant chitty-chitty-bang-bang away from our campus, and someone I knew made mention of a huge ruckus he'd witnessed as he passed through that neighboring town. He said that 50-60 kids were dead in Littleton, and the killers were these two nerdy types who wore all black and had remote control helicopters with real missiles built on them. One morbidly obese student, a guy who was just doused in denim, sporting a cowboy hat and leather boots, too(a sophomore in the agriculture department),said that he'd heard the killers were Jewish extremists, and that today was some kind of Yiddish holiday when the 'Hebes'(his word)made symbolic sacrifices to their tentacled goat god. I think some of this stuff turned out to be untrue.
I quickly discovered that Colorado was no place to be a weirdo. Thank God that my soul-taint didn't show in my choice of clothes or hairstyle. Woe to those people who, for some reason, expressed their self-avowed individuality by dressing up Goth-style(which, when you think about it for more than a second, precludes any notion of true individualism, anyway), for they would be on the receiving end of many a chicken-fried knuckle sammich, with a steel-toed boot to the belly and a 'Yeeehah!' for an appetizer. The campus was unsafe for the time being, but that just made it all the more adventurous. Particularly, those dark stacks in the library's bottom floor, where anything could be waiting to thump you one.
I suppose the point is that I went to college, I did what I was supposed to do, and all of my dreams, the ones that did come true, are now just part of my everyday life. If I had known that the future, no matter where you ended up, would not be the glorious parallel dimension that it was made out to be in those obtuse valedictorian speeches at graduation. A place where all debts would be settled, all desires satisfied, and which we would miss out on if we didn't buckle down.
If we had known it would pretty much be like it is now, and that we would actually miss those days(I don't, but I bet most of you do), we would not have taken it all so seriously. Who can say for certain that, at that age, and that level of stress, they would not have snapped, too? And that's kind of what THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is about, more or less. Excepting for the fact that I've put more thought into my review, already, than ever went into this film.
Anyway, when a movie opens up showing a title card that contradicts the title written on the box and poster, you know that you are in for something very special. And I was not disappointed with the first scene, which features some stellar conversation between lead character Joanne and her boyfriend Tim. I'm not certain about every word, though. It opens with our protagonist and her beau seated on a couch, awaiting the director's cue, smack dab in the heart of what must have passed for a party in 1982(but looks more like 1977).
Hey, why don't we get up from this couch and walk
Far out, man.
Okay, but you have to stop pestering
me, Tim. I can't decide right now about
our future together, and I don't want to
get caught up in another one of those
conversations that sums up our whole lives
in just a few minutes.
Okay, hun, but remind me, again,
why you are staying at school while
everyone else is leaving? I know
we've been discussing this for four
weeks now, but for some reason,
the night before vacation, I can't
Jeeze! What's with your memory, Tim?
Is it the quaaludes?
It's possible. I mean, you could still
get quaaludes back now, in 1982.
Oh Tim! The school is closing down
this hall, silly, so me and a few other
students are going to be irresponsibly
left behind, without oversight, to clean
it out and sell off the furniture. It's
pretty much the best idea, ever.
Oh, that's right! Thanks. And let me
just reiterate that I'm disappointed
that you are being wishy-washy on the
prospect of us living together.
Are you worried, perhaps, that there
seems to be an undertone of reluctance
that could mean something more,
such as my dissatisfaction with our
relationship, in general, making
sexual shenanigans all the more likely
to occur when you are gone.
Nah! There's no way I'd notice something
like that. Hey, I just know you're gonna have
a great time. I'm gonna go hang out
now with my friend who looks like
he may be the second far less talented
younger brother of John Belushi.
Okay, and I'll wander around and
have short conversations with
everybody who is involved, just
as if I were introducing them all
to an invisible spectator.
Would you just go, already! Jesus Christ,
you're a fucking nightmare!
The motif of THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is rather familiar. Isolated young people being smushed by a deviant who's doing it for some reason that would leave Sigmund Freud scratching his noggin. One of the major differences between this and most slashers to come, is the lack of sex as a precursor to a victim's demise. Fans of this will be sorely disappointed. There is one random pair of titties in this film, but you pay a penalty for it when you have to see her disgusting lover, who looks some white trashier half-brother of Kris Kristofferson, talking on the phone with his shirt off. But don't worry, there's plenty more to be disappointed about. In that alone, you will NOT be disappointed.
We see the beautiful Daphne Zuniga, for the first time, I believe, in this film(I wish I could clone her, the only problem would be waiting 10 long years for her to grow up). I could look that up, I guess, it wouldn't be hard, I'm sitting, right now, at my computer. If I do that, though, I'll just end up watching STEP BROTHERS or EUROPEAN VACATION on Netflix or Crackle. Zuniga is the star of one of my favorite films THE SURE THING, not to mention a long list of girly tv shows I couldn't watch all the way through if I were trapped under a boulder.
In a rather strange murder for a slasher film, Debbie(Daphne)faints after finding that her mom has been permanently Nyquilled by the killer, who then carefully backs over her with her parent's car while she's K.O.'ed on the cement. I found this a bit unrealistic, because if a 19-20 year old Daphne Zuniga is safely passed out in front of most college age guys, killing her is probably way down their list of things to do with her. On a busier week, some fraternity would've built a booth around her and sold tickets to 'Debbiestock'. After all, there was no such term as 'date rape' back then. If anything occurred within that gray area that's found between sexual battery and consensual sex, the girl was usually instructed to say the rosary and apologize to the boy's parents. Man, was I born too late.
I think if Debbie had not fainted and been murdered, she would have realized that with her parents out of her life, and their insurance money about to make her rich, things weren't half bad. That next semester she could be living off campus in her own apartment with a Pac-man machine and one of those new-fangled VTR home entertainment devices.
The movie tries to distract you from figuring out who the murderer is by throwing a decoy killer at you, some creepy guy who's hanging around the dorm, but isn't a student. If you are well past potty training, you won't fall for this. Just keep your eyes on the prize, my friend, and you'll be okay. Keep them trained on one of the two ridiculously obvious suspects, one of which gets painted in blood early in the film.
Did you know Bruce Willis was dead before the end of the THE SIXTH SENSE? If so, you will probably figure this mystery out during the opening credits, which flashes the film title PRANKS. This is, really, just another clever ploy by the filmmaker. He thinks if you easily figure out who the killer of PRANKS is, you will be surprised when the killer of THE DORM THAT DRIPS BLOOD is revealed. Does that make sense to you? If it does, holy shit are you crazy.
Although the film opens with a rather interesting shot of a hand being split lengthwise by a huge knife, don't expect to see too much more of that, later on. Most of the good murders don't happen on screen. When Debbie's head gets crushed under the wheel of her dad's car, it's not shown, but implied by off-camera sounds of 'daphne-splutter'. When Patty(did I mention her? who the fuck cares)is shoved in a pressure cooker by the killer(while another student is, actually, STILL THERE WITH HER, making it not such a leap of faith to pin him as the murderer), her death is, like Debbie's, implied with foley sounds of steamed rice being prepared for someone's General Tso's Chicken dinner.
My favorite scene in the movie is the bathroom murder of a school handyman. It's well worth a closer viewing, because it just gets funnier and funnier if you pay attention. Here's a chronological breakdown:
1 – Handyman enters bathroom, takes off work shirt, stands there looking tired and late middle-aged(which look the same, anyway). Takes out transisitor radio and turns it on.
2 – Pair of 'mystery hands' plugs something in outside of bathroom.
3 – Plug is revealed to be attached to drill. Drill is picked up.
4 – Handyman washes face in sink.
5 – Camera creeps up behind Handyman, murderer's POV.
6 – Handyman continues to wash face, suspense is simply maddening.
7 – Killer's arm stretches out behind Handyman(more slowly than an anaconda that's been struck with a shovel)and grabs him around the neck(with RIGHT HAND). Handyman screams like a puss.
8 – Handyman's head is shoved, rudely, into empty sink(with LEFT HAND)and held there.
9 – Killer picks up drill off the floor(also with LEFT HAND, the other one, I guess).
10 – Drill is slowly swiveled(in RIGHT HAND)and carefully aimed, as if it were a pistol.
11 – Blood spatters on mirror in arcing pattern(evidence of severed artery, possibly ketchup squeeze-bottle). Bathroom door, shown in mirror, is clearly open.
12 – Handyman dies on the floor in, possibly, a different bathroom. Door is now open, but it's a different door, in a different bathroom, anyway, so no problem there. He is longer bleeding. Nasty undershirt now covered in dried blood, and even nastier than it was with just him in it.
Okay, so you don't get to see any gore, but you do get to see the terrible things that a baseball bat can do to a roasted Cornish hen. Believe me, it ain't pretty. There is no trick photography evident when the killer beats the shit out of the group's late supper. It's shocking, and it's REAL.
What have I learned from THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, you may ask? Well, to put it succinctly, without exaggeration, I learned how to love again. I think I understand now, the importance, and incalculable worth, of every human being on Earth not involved in the making of this film. It reawakened my appreciation for the whimsical, often comical, consequences of creating in a collaborative art form other than this film. When people come together, work together, respect each other, great things can happen.
Great things like World War 2 - probably the best war ever made; Football - a great way to ensure the streets are safe for a couple hours a week, while I go to the bookstore; Gang Bangs - something almost as fun to watch as it is to participate in(does anyone know where these things happen? Seriously, just give me one solid lead, and I'll never bother you again, I swear).
Yes, I put DTDB in
the same category with all of these terrific things, and I offer no apologies for it. What stands this film apart from them, however, is that it's simply impossible to improve upon. No matter how much better you can make the picture or sound quality, through computer enhancements, etc., I doubt you'll ever notice any qualitative difference in the experience of viewing it. But if you are ever forced to choose between watching this and having your legs torn off by a giant, just remember how much you need your legs to get home.
I highly recommend this film, in much the same way that I used to highly recommend friends double-bag their penoids with Carmen Dominguez.