This is one of the group of horror movies banned in the UK in the early 80's; which came to be known as the 'Video-Nasties'...   3 stars   Cheese Rating: 50% Fiesty Fromage!


directed by: Jeffrey Obrow
starring: Laurie Lapinski, Stephen Sachs, David Snow, Daphne Zuniga, Pamela Holland, Dennis Ely.

(back of video blurb):
       "Morgan meadows Hall, an isolated seven story dormitory stands empty. Corridors that were once filled with the vibrant shouting and laughter of students are now vacant. The structurally unsafe building has been condemned and soon must be torn down.

       Five college students volunteer to close the dorm during their Christmas vacation. Soon, however, out of the dark recesses of the quiet building emerges a haunting and lethal menace. Mysteriously all phone lines are cut and the students are plunged into the darkness of a powerless and increasingly frenzied gloom. In a series of grisly and barbaric incidents, the students begin to disappear. As the terror mounts and the high-pitched staccato of slaying continues, the remaining students realize that they are up against a terrifyingly real psychopathic killer.

       The memory filled halls of the dormitory now echo with the screams and death moans of the students and the corridors drip with the blood of the innocent victims. Once the object of nostalgic affection, Morgan Meadows Hall has been hideously transformed into the most suffocating nightmare imaginable."

choice dialogue:

"I don't want to sleep here tonight knowing that nuts' still around.
Alright, why don't we split up and look for him?"

slash with panache?

       (review by The Blue Iris)

       Not to be confused with THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, this film, known as PRANKS over in the UK, definitely has all of the typical ingredients for a good’n’cheezy 80’s school slasher film: the supply of attractive (or not so attractive) middle-aged 'college' students to terrorize, pointless killer POV shots, the 'final' girl, some cheap and gory special effects--but it has a bit extra that makes it stand on its own from the pack. There is a definite undertone of dread, there were a few good scares, and then the really depressing ending--but I’m getting a head of myself...

       There are very few actual pranks in the film and the only real way to remember that this is even supposed to be a dorm is the occasional references to Somebody who has more than just a loose screw loose stalks the dorm's dark corridors..."classes" and "cafeteria food". It could very easily have been 'The Apartment Complex that Dripped Blood' or something similar. The stars all appear to be old enough to HAVE college age children, but we just swallow believability and accept that these are the students about to be terrorized by the aforementioned 'terrifyingly real psychopathic killer'! Really, it’s just a maniac with a machete. Or drill. Or whatever else he can get his hands on...(what, no javelins?)

       At least the director(s) wasted no time in introducing the gore as the real star of the film. The gruesome opening scene comes screaming in out of nowhere and A nasty machete through the hand jolt gets things off to a gruesome never referenced again, but does provide a good jolt to get us going into the interminable credit sequence. The unfortunately laughable fingers-on-a-chalkboard soundtrack music sounds exactly like a hybrid of PSYCHO and FRIDAY the 13th--almost as irritating as Melanie Griffith trying to sing 'Wuthering Heights' after a couple of lagers. After what seems like HOURS of opening credits, we’re introduced to our main 'students'.

       Joanne, who looks like Tori Amos’s less-ethereal twin sister, is the leader of the group of students who are to stay behind over Christmas vacation to clear out Tori Amos wonders to herself- 'there must be an easier way to make a living...'the dorm. The building has been condemned and everything must be removed in two weeks...the perfect plot device to get our victims as far away from civilization as possible! To make things even worse, they’re shut in with a cranky old handyman and a weird fuzzy-haired guy who may or may not want them all dead. That’s the premise, and for a while it seems like pretty standard stuff. The actors say their lines as if expressing emotion would somehow cause the building to collapse on its own, and everyone watching can spend their time trying to pick out who’s the murderer, who’s going to die, etc.Hey! It's that funny, fuzzy haired guy! You’d also expect that the 'Vacant dorm + guys and girls = sex-o-rama!' but that isn’t the case with this chaste (and impressively dark) film. If you want gratuitous nudity and sex, you’d have more luck clicking frame-by-frame through a Disney’re not going to find it here. Everyone keeps their clothes on and sleeps in separate rooms...with a madman running around and no parental supervision. And we’re supposed to believe this is COLLEGE?

       There’s an interesting bit of trivia in this film too--"What actress has since deleted this film from her resume?" The answer: Daphne Zuniga! In fact, she’s the Daphne Zuniga apparently doesn't want anyone to know she was in this movie- even though she followed it with the cheerfully awful THE INITIATIONonly really convincing college student in the movie. She’s a mush-mouthed newcomer, more afraid of her lines than the nasty killer creeping behind her in the darkness. At least you can’t say she isn’t earnest enough...she and Tori Jr. seem like high school players in search of a production of 'Our Town'. (That’s not exactly a bad least these two project something.) Don’t get too attached to baby-faced Daphne however...she’s just one "I’ll be there in a minute! away from becoming part of the body count! She gets written out of the film in a particularly nasty way too. The moral of her Daphne Zuniga makes the mistake of telling Laurie that,'I'll be there in a minute!'- dig that funky decor! story is, if you feel you MUST faint after seeing both of your parents murdered, do it as far away from a PARKING GARAGE as least until they invent front tire airbags. Her murder is also the one that makes the least amount of sense once the killer is revealed, but if its realism and clarity you’re looking for, go rent FACES OF DEATH. ("No one over 17 allowed to view this film")

       I really enjoyed this movie because, in spite of some slow parts in the beginning where we have to suffer through a few endless 'killer-cam' shots, the In time honoured tradition someone suggests they should all 'split up' and wander around in the darkness... atmosphere more than makes up for these minor flaws. There are a few pretty nasty deaths along the way (sadly, there are NO javelins in the film), but the ending is the real reason to watch this movie. We’re treated to a fairly suspenseful, well-paced chase throughout the basement of the building from which the likable final girl must escape. I suppose the actual identity of the killer isn’t very scary, although the actor manages to portray 'totally-off-his-rocker' madness pretty well. (He’d probably feel at home rooming with the Young Ones) There’s no final explanatory scene, as in the slightly There's a hell of a mess to clear up in the Laurie finds out- to her horror!superior MY BLOODY VALENTINE, as to what set the boy off in the first place--he’s just 'nuts'. But just when you’re sure the movie has reached its ending and the survivors get to live happily ever after, the movie decides to throw a total curveball at us. There’s no letting us off the hook either...before you can ask, "Did he just do what I think he just did?" the credits roll and your teeth clench from the annoying music. A nice and gory down note, worthy of Morrissey. (Paul, that is...)

BODYCOUNT 10  bodycount!   female:4 / male:6

       1: Male strangled/hand split open with machete
       2: Male beaten with club spiked with nails
       3: Female garroted with wire
       4: Female has head run over with car
       5: Male has hole drilled in the back of his head
       6: Male hacked to pieces with machete
       7: Female boiled alive!
       8: Male beaten to death
       9: Male shot
       10: Female burned alive


Click on the right thumb to see the US 1 sheet poster or click on the left thumb to read an earlier (crappier!) review of the film under its UK title PRANKS (with banned video cover).