“Nurse 3D” Teaser Takes The Bloody Low Road

Cropped version of the controversial
Nurse 3D promo shot.
(Image courtesy of Lionsgate.)

Horror filmmakers have always reveled in pushing people’s buttons, from the disarming documentary feel of Seventies proto-slashers like Last House On The Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the disturbing portraits of the sadistic murderers and flesh-devouring zombies next door that have invaded mainstream consciousness in film and TV fare throughout the last decade. Given that horror has exploited practically every angle to entice people to watch, how do you get people excited about something new?

A forthcoming horror production from Lionsgate, Nurse 3D — to be directed by Douglas Aarniokoski (Highlander: Endgame and the forthcoming movie The Day) — immediately seeks to be provocative with its arresting, new (NSFW) image of a nude Paz De La Huerta drenched in blood. The young actress, known recently for her major role on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, will be playing Abby Russell, an alluring nurse who is dedicated to her work, which includes both her professional duties and her secret mission to “target and punishment dishonest men,” according to a Lionsgate press release. (Evidently she seduces then kills cheating men.) Said release further states that image was “shot by Lionsgate’s Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen, [and] it will serve as a style guide and character inspiration for all stages of filmmaking. The story was originally inspired by previous photography of horror tastemaker Palen, who explored the intersection of caretaking and punishment in an ongoing series of fine art photographs of beautiful, fantastical nurses used by the studio.”


“In his original nurse photos and the fan conversation that ensued, Tim had clearly scratched the surface of a really great concept — the idea of a film noir depiction of a beautiful nurse who uses her sexuality to very severe ends,” explains Mike Paseornek, Lionsgate’s President of Production and the executive in charge of the film, in the press release. “That concept was the perfect germ for this thrilling story, which will be extremely visceral in 3D.”

Adds Palen, “Paz is the perfect actress for this role and has already been such an inspiration to the whole project. She brings an intensity and a sense of adventure to this role that is so promising.” Further, he says, “We learned from the success of My Bloody Valentine 3D that there is a real interest in what 3D filmmaking can add to risqué scenes in R-rated films, and this film will deliver those scenes to audiences in a really sophisticated, artful way.”

Honestly, you know what I see? I see a woman with a hot body thrusting out her tits and ass and covered in what might as well be red body paint. I guess that’s the “sense of adventure” being invoked here. I wonder how the 3D process will further serve that end, slight pun intended. Even genre fanatics have got to admit that it’s getting harder and harder to be original in both creating and marketing a scary movie these days, and this poster proves it. (Indeed this Nurse 3D image is very reminiscent of the Rolling Stone True Blood cover that stirred up controversy last year. Granted, this one’s way bloodier.)

I find it interesting that, after absorbing so much horror over the last three of four decades, I am not really provoked by this image in terms of it being creepy, sexy or squirm inducing. I’m irritated. And I’m certainly not a prude or afraid of the sight of blood. Anyone who reads A.D.D. regularly knows that. I have regularly defended the horror genre from clueless critics — and seen more than my fair share of exploitation and cult movies — and I love it when horror stories tap into primal fears or broach topical issues with intelligence and boldness. And yes, sometimes a good, dumb slasher flick is just what the doctor ordered. But sex and violence have become so lasciviously intermingled in horror filmmaking — the mindlessly sadistic SAW 3D being one of the latest misogynistic examples — that such an approach is not only getting tired but offensive. There has got be something more engaging and intelligent, and certainly less overt, than just tossing sex (and often violent sex) in our face, particularly when there is no message attached. It reminds me of how weirdly hilarious it is when select comic book artists or filmmakers try to make decaying female zombies look sexy. They’re not, simple as that. Unless you’re someone with necrophiliac urges. (Two movies that tackle misogyny in intriguing if squirm inducing ways are Deadgirl and Love Object.)

I’m certainly not knocking the acting talents of Ms. De La Huerta or the photographic prowess of Mr. Palen, but this teaser campaign simply screams exploitation. Since I have yet to see the final product, I will offer that perhaps the movie will prove me wrong. We’ll find out in 2012. (Principal photography commences in Toronto on September 6th.)

For the record, you know what kind of nurses really scare me? The ones that abuse the people they allegedly are supposed to give care to. That’s a real-life horror show I hope to never experience. And there’s nothing sexy about that.

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