Directed by Donald Farmer [Other horror films: Cannibal Hookers (1987), Demon Queen (1987), Scream Dream (1989), Vampire Cop (1990), Invasion of the Scream Queens (1992), Savage Vengance (1993), Red Lips (1995), Red Lips II (1996), An Erotic Vampire in Paris (2002), Body Shop (2002), Red Lips: Eat the Living (2005), Chainsaw Cheerleaders (2008), Hi-8 (Horror Independent 8) (2013, segment ‘Thicker than Water’), Shark Exorcist (2015), Grindsploitation (2016, segment ‘Dirty Cop: Simon Says!’), Cannibal Cop (2017), Hooker with a Hacksaw (2017), Trashsploitation (2018, segments ‘Hooker with a Hacksaw’ & ‘Vampire Cop’), Visit to the Grave (2018), Cannibal Hookers (2019)]
This movie is terrible in ways that few movies can compete with. It’s low-budget, sure, but the story is quite poor, the acting is laughable, and the amateurish nature of the film is overbearing. Even so, giving this one a second watch, I have to admit that it does possess just enough charm to ensure the movie’s not a complete waste (though make no mistake, it’s a close call).
No one in the cast does great, or even good (though certainly, some of the young women who get topless are rather scrumptious). However, I did derive some enjoyment from the main performances of Ciara Richards and Adrianna Eder. Both Richards and Eder are attractive in their own way, but I think Eder is the winner. Regardless, neither gives a great performance, but again, they bring some amusement to the film.
Jacky Hall, though, who played a bitchy Southern bully (she was born in Arkansas, and it shows) is the surprise star. Her performance is almost as terrible as the script (and that’s a hell of an accomplishment), and she brings some quotable lines to the forefront (‘Sit and spin, bitches’). Only two others are worth mentioning, including the science professor who had a vial of real Haitian zombie blood (Christopher Slade) and Kimberly L. Cole (‘Oh my God, is that a mouse? Oh, I think it’s a gerbil. Gerbils are so cute…’), who had a short, yet memorable, little scene.
By no means would I want to give off the impression that Dorm of the Dead is all sunshine and daisies, as some of this movie is really painful. The first ten minutes or so are focused purely on pointless characters who are all eventually killed by zombies. There’s a lesbian scene thrown in, so you get a bit more nudity, but neither of the women are at all important. After some credits, we’re gifted with what might be one of the worst scenes in cinematic history that I regret having watched (six, perhaps seven minutes of a guy telling a girl sexual innuendos and her being completely oblivious, only to be attacked by zombies at the end).
Also, the music here is terrible. It’s just random generic hard rock, none of it noteworthy in any way. As for the zombies? One randomly did a backflip early on, which didn’t much endear me to them. The effects, too, were poor, but given what had to be a very low budget, I’m guessing they did what they could. Also, while I’m grateful the movie ended (more than can be known), it was a very sudden conclusion.
The director of this movie, Donald Farmer, is somewhat a known quantity. Truth be told, I’ve not actually seen any of his movies beside this one (am I a lucky guy or what?), but I don’t think this was necessarily terrible. The script was, as I said, pretty atrocious – I really didn’t like the route this one took (one of the main characters got zombie blood poured down her throat, and is slowly beginning to crave human flesh, and eventually goes on a uber-scary rampage), which is probably the biggest issue I had with this one.
The thing is, as poor as many aspects of Dorm of the Dead are, the really terrible performances had me laughing, and while that by no means makes the movie a good one, having seen this one twice now, I admit that I could see myself giving this even another view in the future, for whatever that’s worth.
This film was discussed on Fight Evil’s podcast, so if interested, listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I talk this one over.