At Arkham University, campus bitches Clare and Julie have a score to settle with goth chicks Sarah and Allison. And when Amy accidentally unleashes a campus zombie epidemic, Clare picks Sarah as the perfect candidate to join the walking dead! But things have a way of backfiring. . .don’t they? So don’t be surprised if Clare and Julie wind up on tonight’s menu!
When a movie boasts the quote “Nice Job! Congratulations” from none other than Howard Stern on its artwork, it just has to be good, right? …What? Wait, you mean Stern isn’t a reputable movie reviewer? Well, surely the fact that “Miss Howard Stern” Andrea Ownbey is in the cast had no impact on his opinion.
Dorm of the Dead opens like a p*rno, complete with cheesy music and even cheesier acting. Seth (Mike Dusi) is trying to get some action from his girlfriend, Dawn (Michelle Penick), in her dorm room at Arkham University. After getting denied, the disgruntled Seth leaves in a fit, but he perks up when a babe with a great body approaches him. Not noticing her disgusting, green face, he doesn’t think twice about sticking his tongue down her throat.
Shortly after, another zombie girl is eager to make out, and Seth thanks God for his luck – but it’s about to change. More zombies come along and devour him following a cheesy fight – but not until after one of the zombies does a backflip for no apparent reason. Most of the undead are of the lumbering, Romero variety, but then there’s a handful that are fast, as writer/director Donald Farmer ignores the zombie rules.
In fact, he ignores plenty of basic film logic. Dorm of the Dead starts out like it might be a fun B-movie, but things quickly turn from bad to worse with the actual “plot.” One of the university’s teachers, Xander (Christopher Slade) – yes, the characters are named after those of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – encountered a zombie in Haiti a few years prior. Being the intelligent professor that he is, he keeps some of the zombie’s blood in a test tube that he parades around his classroom.
After resident bitch Clare (Jackey Hall) is laughed at by Sarah (Ciara Richards), a stereotypical goth student, she vows to take revenge. Clearly, there is no better way to do so than pouring the zombie blood down her throat while she’s asleep. As a result, Sarah becomes a zombie – kind of. She eats people here and there, but she also maintains all of her motor functions and can talk normally with no explanation. It’s one of many blatant examples of the movie’s lack of logic. The zombies multiply throughout the rest of the boring film.
Even by indie film standards, Dorm of the Dead has next to no redeeming qualities. The hammy acting is nothing short of awful. The only person who doesn’t fumble their awkward lines is B-movie scream queen Tiffany Shepis, who plays Amy in an all too brief appearance. On the bright side, she makes out with another girl. (Shepis keeps her clothes on, but plenty of other breasts are bared.) There are scenes with characters in conversation with one another that were clearly filmed at different times/locations and edited together. Scheduling conflicts can cause this, but this is easily the worst offense I’ve seen it. Not only does the scenery completely change from character to character, but the shoddy editing leaves awkward pauses between cuts.
The mind-numbing pace makes the film extra tiring, as do the sound and picture quality, which range from acceptable to bad. The bongo drum-driven score is annoying, although there are some rockin’ tunes by a Rob Zombie rip-off band. The gore is laughable. Sure, many of these inadequacies can be overlooked given the obviously low budget, but when they’re so abundant it’s impossible to disregard them all. If you’re going to make an indie film on a micro budget, at least start with a decent script. I’d except better from a film student, yet Farmer is over 50 and has written and directed many films in the past (thankfully, nothing of which you’ve probably ever heard).
The DVD also contains a behind-the-scenes featurette as pointless as the film, in which Shepis carries a camera around the set for fifteen minutes. The only highlight of this is when she declares, “I’m going to kill myself. Dorm of the Dead: what we do to pay rent.” Take that for what it’s worth.
Dorm of the Dead (2006)