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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Dorm That Dripped Blood aka Death Dorm [Blu-ray]


(Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow, 1982)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: New Image

Video: Synapse Films



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:28:02.652

Disc Size: 29,608,592,227 bytes

Feature Size: 24,274,827,264 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.47 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 26th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1691 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1691 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1698 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1698 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1568 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1568 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)






• Audio Commentary Featuring Directors Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter

My First Score Featurette (8:11 in 1080P)

• My First Slasher (9:28 in 1080P)

Original Theatrical trailer (1:26 in 1080P)

Original 'Pranks' trailer (1:53 in 1080P)

Isolated Music Score
Reversible Cover with Alternate Artwork

DVD of the film





Description: On the eve of Christmas vacation, a college dormitory stands condemned... the dark halls now vacant and unsafe. Student Joanne Murray and her close friends volunteer to help close down the building, unaware a psychopathic lunatic is hiding in the shadows. As the students disappear one by one, Joanne discovers the horrifying reality that if she is to survive, she alone will have to find a way to slay the brutal murderer. If you think you've seen this film totally uncut... think again! Synapse Films is proud to present THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD in a never-before-seen alternate version containing additional scenes, extended gore sequences, and a different sound mix. This transfer was created from the only existing 35mm answer print of the original Directors' Cut entitled DEATH DORM, a version of the film thought to have been lost for over thirty years.



The Film:

It’s a by-the-numbers slasher-story, but it works a lot better than most of the others because it has a very gritty, well-shot, cinematography, realistic and natural sets and a cast of actors that might not be the best crop from the local acting school, but gives us someone to root and care for. The two directors make an excellent job with a very small budget and inject a lot of life into the scenes, with intelligent use of the camera and atmospheric lightning. I really enjoy the small and cramped locations, which make everything so much dangerous. You can’t just escape from the house that easy, not without going up or down dark stairs, taking a short-cut thru creepy basements and knowing that if the killer chases you up on the roof, there’s no chance in hell you can jump down from there. It’s just a very smart and fun place to film a slasher movie.

Excerpt from Ninja Dixon located HERE

Things begin much like Antonioni’s Blow-Up, what with a truck load of college students careening down the road during homecoming or some such event. A student is hiding in the brush, just as David Hemmings lurked through the park, accidentally photographing a murder while engaged in his artistic process. Hemmings eventually reinvigorates his craft by attempting to solve this murder, and the identity of the killer becomes irrelevant. Rather than a murder victim inspiring an artist, the student becomes the murder victim, thereby removing the narrative wall (and, consequently, the “big idea”) that “respectable” cinema deems so important. Maybe the comparison is a bit of a stretch, but hey, I'd thought I'd give it a stab.

Excerpt from Cinema Gonzo located HERE

The Dorm That Dripped Blood, a joint effort from directors Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow, was released at the height of the slasher craze.

The cast included future Melrose Place resident Daphne Zuniga - and although the film is certainly no classic, there are enough ingredients to hook even the casual fan of the "college stalk n' kill" subgenre.

Seventy-five year old Morgan Meadows Hall will soon be one college dormitory that won't be housing any more wisecracking students. Slated for renovation and future apartment living, Morgan Meadows is in the process of being completely inventoried, emptied and boarded up.

Excerpt from Dan Hunter and Jason Knowles at TerrorTrap located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Firstly - we should note that Synapse films describes this as the 'Uncensored Directors’ Cut' and sates this on their website HERE as 'Basically, our release of THE DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD is the very FIRST version of the film. The version that was originally made, before it was submitted to the US distributor. This version is actually entitled DEATH DORM and contains footage that no one has seen in thirty years (including the two directors)!' - and our own Eric Cotenas tells me in email: "...the prior DORM THAT DRIPPED BLOOD DVD under the title PRANKS from Substance is wholly unauthorized (and it is converted from the BBFC-cut UK release). Synapse's DORM features the onscreen title DEATH DORM and is from the answer print of the uncut pre-MPAA version so it has never been released in this form before". Also this is a 2-disc release from Synapse with a DVD of the film included as well as the Blu-ray.


The Dorm that Dripped Blood (Death Dorm) gets a 1080P transfer. While looking like 16mm - I understand the film was shot on 35mm and the aspect ratio for this Blu-ray disc is, oddly, 1.66:1 (IMDb states 1.85). Anywho - I know previous digital and VHS edition of the film were bordering on pathetically poor so I wouldn't be surprised of this Blu-ray will be the pinnacle of visual quality. The image shows grit and grain but not too much intrusive noise. It is thick with no depth and you can judge the detail via the screen captures below. This is dual-layered with a strong bitrate. Colors never bleed (no pun intended) and there was only one part where I saw some noticeable scratches - and even at that - they were light (brushing teeth sequences). The 'royal' Blu-ray treatment may seem inappropriate for this film but I love to see lesser-caliber work done to the 'nines' as it makes the visuals experience a more adventurous one.  If you are going to see Death Dorm at home - with friends on a late Friday night with bushel baskets of popcorn - this is the way to see it.



















Audio :

The score has expected deficiencies that are not the fault of the DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo track at 1691 kbps. As from production - this is flat but the screams and more aggressive moments get some intensity via the lossless rendering. Hiss or perceived drop-outs didn't hinder the presentation and Synapse have provided the isolated score by Chris Young  (discussed in the extras) - also via an uncompressed transfer. There are no subtitle options and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

All the digital supplements are in HD including the lossless audio commentary featuring directors Jeffrey Obrow and Stephen Carpenter reminiscing about the production. Plus there is an 8-minute featurette entitled 'My First Score' with composer Christopher Young and a second 'My First Slasher' running 10-minutes with Make-Up FX creator Matthew Mungle. There is an original theatrical trailer and original 'Pranks' trailer and you may choose the Isolated Music Score also via DTS-Master HD. This 'Uncensored Directors’ Cut' package has a reversible cover with Alternate Artwork (anything is better than the consumer cover, IMO) and a second disc DVD of the film.



This was more fun than I was anticipating. Something about the inferior production attempts always produce a soft spot for me. There is nothing particularly unique or inventive about The Dorm That Dripped Blood but the Blu-ray seems to add another layer of coolness to a run-in-the-mill slasher flic. I highly doubt we're going to see it looking any better and for fans of the genre I certainly recommend! 

Gary Tooze

April 16th, 2011


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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