I don’t quite know how to feel about Paz de la Huerta. I’ve seen her kicking around for a while, now; first in David Arquette’s psychedelic slasher, The Tripper, and, since that time, either vamping it up like a golden age pinup in Boardwalk Empire or looking like a mad homeless hipster in barely comprehensible interviews and tabloid shots. The actress/model alternates between being incredibly attractive and just downright scarily weird, blurring the line between sexy and certifiable, and it’s this strange dichotomy between bombshell and batshit insane that makes her absolutely perfect for her role in the tongue-in-cheek gore fest that is Nurse 3D.
de la Huerta stars as Abby, a no-nonsense veteran nurse who takes a shine to one of her new student charges, Danni (30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden), mentoring her in both her job and personal life. At first, Danni is appreciative of Abby’s understanding nature as the more experienced nurse walks her through some messy situations, both with patients and the hospital’s lecherous male staff. However, as Abby’s interest in Danni begins to come off as more of an obsession following a booze-fueled dalliance that Danni immediately regrets, the student nurse begins to feel threatened by her supervisor’s increasingly erratic behavior. After rebuffing further advances, Abby’s true nature is revealed.
You see, Abby sees herself as something of a feminist avenger, punishing the unfaithful, untruthful, or the just plain uncouth using both her feminine charms and her medical training. When Danni decides to push her away, Abby’s focus shifts from her to the men in Danni’s life, including her paramedic boyfriend, Steve (Corbin Bleu), as well as Danni’s unfaithful step-father, Larry (Martin Donovan) culminating in a gloriously gory and sexy showdown.
I’ve read a lot of bad reviews of Nurse 3D since its release months back, but I really have to wonder if any of those reviewers got the point of director Douglas Aarniokoski’s surprisingly polished low-budget outing. This is an exploitation film through and through, with characters and situations taken right out of the grindhouse golden age. Yes, it’s all very modern in its execution (and quite gorgeously photographed), but, beneath the CGI blood and slick aesthetics, beats the heart of a titillating treasure trove of 70s trash cinema tropes, from de la Huerta’s breathless blow-up doll performance and near-constant state of undress to its antagonist’s flimsy feminist modus operandi and seemingly endless roster of deserving male victims (both staples of “woman scorned” films, from Foxy Brown to I Spit on Your Grave).
Simply put, if you pine for the days when plot and logic took a backseat to copious nudity and extreme violence, Nurse 3D will certainly satisfy your cravings and then some.
Nurse 3D comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate and is presented in both 3D and 2D versions. Personally, the 3D gimmick has worn tremendously thin for me, so I watched the 2D version first so as not to be distracted by whatever eye-poking nonsense would invariably come my way in the 3D incarnation. The 2.41.1 transfer is quite attractive, with a vibrant and razor sharp image that sports an abundance of fine detail. The film’s color palette is uncharacteristically bright thanks to the bulk of the action taking place in the stark white hospital interiors, but darker scenes showcase decent blacks and well-balanced shadows, although there are a few occasions where the image became somewhat murky and undefined. I chapter-jumped my way through the 3D version, just to cherry pick the scenes where I knew the effect would shine brightest, and I have to admit that it’s all handled pretty well, with an overall image quality that rivals the 2D version, but with the added bonus of enhanced depth and dimension. I actually sort of regretted not picking the 3D version from the get-go, as it really does enhance the sleaze/retro element of the film nicely, even if the CGI blood effects are not much better than your average Saturday night SyFy movie presentation.
The film also features a surprisingly robust and well-mixed 5.1 DTS HD audio track that’s quite immersive. I especially enjoyed the scenes around the hospital as the environmental effects are really expertly implemented giving the viewer an audible sense of actually being there (which I sort of loved/hated as I generally avoid hospitals at all costs).
Bonus features include a funny and informative commentary track with director, Aarniokoski, as well as a very short EPK style featurette entitled Bad Medicine: The Making of Nurse 3-D (HD). We also get a collection of short “video diaries” featuring Katrina Bowden and Corbin Bleu (HD), and trailers for other Lionsgate releases.
Toplined by an actress who’s equal parts Jessica Rabbit and Lindsay Lohan, and featuring an interesting supporting cast (including Judd Nelson and Reno 911’s Niecy Nash), Nurse 3D is an unapologetically brassy, trashy, oh-so-deliciously deviant love letter to the golden age of exploitation cinema. It’s not a great movie by any stretch, but few films of its ilk are. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray presentation offers excellent quality sights and sounds, both the 3D and 2D versions of the film, and even a few bonus features to sweeten the pot. If boobs and blood are your thing, Nurse 3D will not disappoint, but, for anyone looking for more than that, consider this a rental candidate.