A college professor brings zombie blood back with him from a trip to Haiti. After he injects it into a girl with it who is blackmailing him, she begins to infect students across the campus of Arkham University. A snobby bitch named Clare steals the blood and infects a Goth girl named Sarah Hannigan who then in turn begins to eat people, both on and off campus, as the epidemic grows.
Dorm of the Dead opens with a guy leaving his girlfriend’s dorm room after she turns him down for sex. When he gets outside, a girl approaches him and he begins to make out with her. Somehow, he cannot figure out that something is seriously wrong with her, despite her drooling, grayed skin and vacant eyes. Then a second one shows up and he moves on to her, excited that he seems to be getting involved in a threesome. That is until the first one takes a large bite out of his neck. Three more of these zombies then show up and surround him. One of the zombies is a male who is both quick and able to do some sort martial arts moves. They kill the poor guy and drag him off.
That is what you can expect from the all the zombies in this movie. Some are brain dead, but others seem to break character on a whim and show a semblance of intelligence. When those first two female zombies show up, they allow the guy to kiss them and then the others strategically surround and attack him. The rules of the zombie genre are basically ignored here and don’t even remain constant throughout the movie itself, although there are traces in the movie of the classical Caribbean zombies, as well as touches of both Romero’s zombies and the zombies of the more recent “Zack Snyder style.”
The reason the zombies are at Arkham University is all thanks to a professor named Xander. While on a trip to Haiti, he encountered some zombies and brought some of their blood back with him to study. After a female student blackmails him, demanding that he leave his wife and marry her, he tricks her and injects her with the zombie’s blood. He watches her die and then reanimate, and then locks her away to study her in his attempts to learn as much as he can about the undead.
Unfortunately, she escapes and begins to infest the student body of Arkham University, turning them into rampaging zombies. The film follows two Goth friends, named Allison Gellar and Sarah Hannigan, as they go through their days doing whatever it is Goth chicks do. In this movie, that would include art rubbings on tombstones and pissing off snobby high class bitches.
During a class taught by Professor Xander, the snobby bitch, played by Jackey Hall, makes rude and inappropriate comments in class and is put in place by the professor. This causes the class to laugh at her and she vows revenge on Sarah and Allison. Her revenge involves stealing the zombie blood from Professor Xander and pouring it into the mouth of Sarah as she sleeps. Sarah wakes up and, instead of instantly becoming a zombie, she seems to remain normal, yet starts eating people anyway. No explanation is given why she can still talk normal, and make rational decisions, yet have the zombie bloodlust.
Director Donald Farmer has been making movies for twenty years, getting his start as a zombie in Day of the Dead, before directing his first movie one year later. In itself, that is strange, as the main problems with this movie should not happen to a man with over twenty years experience.
The biggest problem is that the sound of the entire movie is complete and utter crap. I believe every scene shot with Jackey Hall was shot completely separate from everything else. They were not only shot separate, but in a different place as the background tone changes drastically every time she speaks. The most glaring example is in the classroom scene where not only does the sound change, but the editing is so sloppy, it seems like Hall’s reaction shots were just added in without any semblance of skill. The professor would talk and then they would switch to the goth girls saying something, with a complete background tone change. Then back to the professor and then to Jackey Hall, where she would sit there, then say her line, then pause and the film would finally cut back to the professor. It was horrible editing and the change in tone was just jarring.
The gore effects would switch on a dime from gruesome and stomach churning (a good thing) to you actually wondering where the hell the wound is supposed to be. Sometimes, there would just be very wet red liquid on a neck, a shirt or someone’s arms. It was great in some points and non-existent in others.
That brings me to the acting. Jackey Hall is lucky she is good looking, because that girl cannot act. Jackie is not even the worse actress in the movie, as that spot is owned by her friend Julie, played by Andrea Ownbey. You may know Ownbey as Miss Howard Stern, the so-called “dumbest stripper in America.” She should never be allowed to act in a movie again. She was that bad. I believe her addition was just to add some numbers to the DVD sales, since her role was completely unnecessary to the plotline.
Tiffany Shepis (Abominable, Tromeo and Juliet) was great in her small role, and definitely the best actress in the entire movie. Ownbey might have been signed for financial reasons but Shepis was the most valuable addition to this cast. Ciara Richards (Sarah) also was very good in this, her sophomore movie role.
It is obvious that this movie was meant to look low budget. It is also obvious that it never takes itself seriously. A look at the character names makes that clear: Sarah Hannigan, Allison Gellar, Professor Xander, Amy, Julie, Seth, Dawn, Summer and James (Buffy the Vampire Slayer to those living in a cave). I cannot rate this movie lower than some of the drek that tries to pass itself off as serious horror because this movie wants desperately to be Z-Level Horror. It can be a fun movie to watch if you want to watch something really bad with a group of your friends.
The technical problems make it tedious to get through. I can forgive the horrible acting in a movie like this, as it’s almost a staple of the Z-Movie genre. With a little more love in the editing suite, this might have been a classic midnight flick. As it, it is just forgettable.
I like the cover art. It really kind of gives a good vibe for the movie with the most recognizable face (Shepis) up front. The only extra features are trailers and a making-of, which is a short behind the scenes look at the zombie attack on Professor Xander. Not much here to see.