It’s my fault, really. I fired up a movie called Dorm of the Dead totally sober, and for that I have been rightfully punished. I should have known what I was in store for when a mock-frightful introduction included the line, “Zombies will crawl out of their graves!” (Err… zombies have graves?) Reminiscent of movies like Satan’s Cheerleaders, Zombie High and all those completely anonymous, schlocky, VHS-era horror flicks from fly-by-night companies, Dorm of the Dead is a horrible, horrible mess of both idea and execution, simply jaw-droppingly inept on every level.
Set at the fictional Arkham University, Dorm of the Dead unfolds against the backdrop of a zombie virus, which gets out when a philandering professor starts waving around a vial of “real zombie blood” picked up during a research trip to Haiti. Campus bimbo Clare (Jackey/Jackie Hall, simply awful) and her friend Julie (Andrea Ownbey) decide to exact revenge against vegetarian goth chick Sarah (Ciara Richards). In a parallel strand, abused and bi-curious Amy (Tiffany Shepis) escapes her jerky boyfriend, only to fail victim to a bite that renders her a member of the undead. Then… um, other stuff happens.
Where to start? The acting in this movie is atrocious; you could honestly pull a collection of people randomly off the street and coax, in aggregate, better performances out of them. Hall, Richards, Adrianna Eder (cute, but clueless) and Ownbey are the main offenders, but everyone gets in on the act. To compare Dorm of the Dead to any of the movies by which it might nominally be inspired would be to blight those titles perhaps irreparably.
Written and directed by Donald Farmer, the movie is an utter hack job, through and through — incompetently conceived, written, shot, paced and edited. The dialogue is wretched, continuity is routinely butchered, and basic principles of angle and sightline are just as frequently ignored. There’s also a two-and-a-half-minute scene of Ownbey and Hall walking through a building, the latter repeatedly saying, “Come on!” (This is actually one of the high points of the film — along with a passing mention of Abu Ghraib, only because that was the only thing that fixed this movie in time.) I wholeheartedly support the baring of breasts (on film, in life), and quite early on I figured out that that’s what this movie was — a student film (albeit a really bad one) constructed mainly to get a couple chicks to awkwardly lift blouse. But no… Farmer is 50 years old!
Presented in 1.33:1 full-screen, Dorm of the Dead comes in a regular plastic Amray case bearing the hilarious salutory blurb “Nice job — congratulations!” from Howard Stern. (Ownbey, it seems, is “Miss Howard Stern.”) A trailer is included, but the only other supplemental extra is a true jewel — a 15-minute “making-of featurette” (actually just a collection of on-set footage) in which Shepis fixes the camera in her gaze and sighs, “What we do to pay the rent…” Another dude, meanwhile, actively runs when the camera is pointed in his direction, saying, “I’m not in this!” If I were to give grades lower than a F, it would be in special cases like this. If for some reason you’re still interested, to check out the movie via Amazon, click here. F (Movie) C- (Disc)