Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dorm of the Dead (2006)

Directed by:
Donald Farmer

After a Criswell-like introduction (featuring "Dukey Flyswatter" / Michael D. Sonye, a veteran of several notable 80s B movies), the action cuts to Arkham Hall Girls' Dormitory, where some strange things are afoot. A sorority girl and her boyfriend are both killed by zombies; one of whom does a back flip for no apparent reason. Tiffany Shepis then puts in a cameo and manages to make it through a long lesbian scene without losing any of her clothing. I know, I'm as surprised as you are. She and her abusive boyfriend, as well as her friend Jane (Amanda Barnett), are killed by more zombies in a parking garage. After wasting about 15 minutes on basically nothing, the film finally gets to the meat of the story. Two best friends, the more straight-laced "geek" Allison Gellar (Adrianna Eder) and goth vegetarian Sarah Hannigan (Ciara Richards) want to do "something cool" so they go visit a cemetery to do some charcoal tracings of tombstones. Afterward, they encounter Southern fried campus bitch queen Clare Ryan (Jackey Hall), who looks and sounds like a less-talented version of Tara Reid. Yes, that is possible. All three girls attend science class, where their hunky professor Dr. Xander (ugh, kill it with the "Buffy" references already...) talks about death and claims he has a vial of zombie blood he acquired on a trip to Haiti two years earlier. Clare observes in her monotone voice "Someone's been watching too many crappy movies." Tell me about it, sister. Double billing this flick with POT ZOMBIES tonight has almost turned ME into a zombie.

Well, Sarah is called to the financial aid office and is told her tuition check has bounced and she has three days to come up with 4 thousand dollars. She's kicked out of her dorm room and forced to go to dreaded Arkham Hall, a run-down building used for "charity case students" who have no money. Arkham is also the hot spot for zombie activity since Dr. Xander (Christopher Slade) had already used his blood sample to turn a female student who tried to blackmail him into a zombie. Since then, things have spiraled out of control and the zombie girl has infected several other students (including Ms. Shepis) who lurk around in the house.

Meanwhile, Clare coerces her bimbo friend Julie (Andrea Brooke Owneby, who apparently is "America's Dumbest Stripper" after her IQ score came back near the mental retardation bracket during her appearance on The Howard Stern Show) into helping her break into Dr. Xander's lab to steal his zombie blood. Julie wusses out (and promptly disappears from the rest of the film despite her star billing on the DVD cover), but Clare gets the vial after the doc is killed by zombies. Being the nice girl she is, Clare goes to Arkham Hall and dribbles some of the blood into Sarah's mouth while she's sleeping. That next morning, Sarah awakens in a daze and soon she's feasting on rare meat before graduating to human flesh. It's at this point, nearly an hour into the film, that the films gets slightly better for about ten minutes as Sarah goes on a mild rampage around town. She chews on a dummy head that's supposed to look like Kimberly Lynn Cole and kills the dean's wife. She also hitches a ride from a guy (played by Jim O'Rear) who takes her to a drive-in playing SEE NO EVIL and SILENT HILL. Poor girl. Then it's off to a bar to get back at a drunken Clare, and then to a carnival. There are a few OK metal songs that sounds a lot like White Zombie that play during her feeding frenzies.

Director Donald Farmer is a name somewhat familiar to fans of horrible horror films. He's been making no budget movies like this since the mid 1980s, but sadly doesn't seem to have improved much over the past two decades. Dorm was shot on digital and the picture quality is decent for the format. However, it's otherwise full of technical goofs usually attributed to amateur first-time filmmakers. There are tons of continuity errors, it's badly paced, it's padded, the attempts at humor almost always miss the mark and the editing, acting, script, gore fx and sound are all pretty lousy. The Clare character is only seen in close-up and doesn't interact with most of the rest of the cast, which makes it seem like all of her scenes were shot separately. The zombie make-up is almost nonexistent. A little dab of faint green paint and a little blood is all there is to it. There are three instances of T&A in the film, which is basically all it has to offer its target audience.

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