Thursday, 25 November 2021

Nurse Sherri

Sherri Bobbins

Nurse Sherri
aka Black Voodoo

USA 1978
Directed by Al Adamson
Severin Blu Ray Zone A/B/C

Warning: Bizarre spoilers ensue.

Wow... that Al Adamson guy keeps surprising me. I watched Nurse Sherri on the same day that I watched his bizarre musical sci-fi sex comedy Cinderella 2000 (reviewed here) and, believe me, Nurse Sherri was an even stranger experience, tonally, than the former.

So if you look at the trailers for Nurse Sherri you will be sold a film about the demonic possession of a young nurse in the style of something like The Exorcist and... well, it’s certainly a horror movie of sorts but, for one thing, if you’re looking for a scary movie then this isn’t it. And for another, well, let me describe the first few scenes of the movie for you here.

First up we have another animated title sequence similar to those adorning the openings of a lot of Adamson’s films involving various photos and images moved around. And my first thought as I was watching this is that the score, which continues over various scenes throughout the movie, sounded way too old for a 1970s horror movie. At first I thought it was just library music except I also realised I recognised the tune. A quick trip to the IMDB confirmed my suspicions... the film seems to be needle drop scored with some of Dominic Frontiere’s music to the old sci-fi TV show The Outer Limits.

Anyway, the film starts with some scenes from many reshoots Adamson took part in to expand the character of an old ‘occult specialist’ who dies on an operating table early in the movie. There is a sequence shot in the desert where he and a bunch of ‘faithful’ friends of a dead person attempt to raise the person back from death over the space of a number of days. Alas, instead of raising the recently deceased gentleman, the guy collapses as if possessed. We then get his death scene at hospital as Nurse Sherri, played by Jill Jacobson, watches as her doctor boyfriend Peter, played by Geoffrey Land, fails to save his life. And this is where this horror movie takes a bizarre and strange turn...

Following on from this we have a full on naked sex scene where Sherri and Peter are at it for a considerably longer time than you would expect from a scene in any other horror movie. It’s not shy about what it’s showing either. Okay, I thought, this was a mite unusual but, then... after the two are recovering, Sherri asks the good doctor what his strangest sexual experience was. We then get a long flashback to him in his younger days, as he attempts to give a lecture to a class full of students while one of them is giving him a hidden blow job from under his lectern.Wait, what? After a while we go back to Sherri and Peter on the bed and then it’s his turn to ask Sherri what her strangest sexual encounter was... at which point we flash back again to a poolside scene where Sherri is seduced in a lesbian sex scene. Well, this has got to be one of the most ‘off the point’ horror films I’ve ever seen. This is all compounded by another scene when we get back to the hospital and a man is nervous about having an operation. So one of the nurses removes her clothing and starts sexing him up to relax him. So far, this had not been the spectacle of demonic terror I was expecting, to tell you the truth.

After a while, Sherri’s best friend Nurse Tara, played by the incomparable Adamson regular Marilyn Joi, turns up and goes to look in on an all star American football player who has been blinded. It doesn’t take long, of course, for her to remove her clothes and start boning up on the game with him.

Now, in between these unusual sex scenes, there are actually scenes which carry the demonic plot forward. Later scenes with flashbacks explain that the old man who died on the hospital bed has possessed Sherri, which kind of makes sense since every now and again she’ll accidentally let her demon show by talking in ‘croaky old man’s voice’ courtesy of some dubbing. However, we also see a scene from much later than the hospital scene where some bizarrely animated... I can only call it glowy slime sludgy stuff... crawls onto her body and kind of seeps into her. What this has to do with the old occult geezah I have no idea but pretty soon, presumably as a result of this bizarre phenomenon, Sherri starts turning up in unexpected places and doing strange and ‘plot questionable’ killings.

For instance, she’ll turn up at the mini ranch of a retired ‘cowboy hat wearing’ doctor and, for no reason whatsoever and in a scene which has played out, content wise, in at least two other Adamson movies... she sticks a big pitchfork through his back before driving all the way back to hospital again. And it goes on like this for a while, with little inserts of almost non-sequitur horror scenes, surrounded by scenes where everyone seems to think they are in a softcore, sexy nurse movie.

Luckily, Tara’s blinded football star patient had a voodoo priestess for a grandmother and, when everyone starts talking about how strange Nurse Sherri has been lately... like turning up with blood all over her hands and face and speaking like an old man... he tells them that they have to dig the old man up from his grave and burn his body to release his hold on the titular nurse. Which they do, just about saving Peter who is about to get hacked to death by Sherri, wielding two machete’s after she has just killed her carer. Why Sherri has so many framed photographs of different breeds of dogs in her apartment is never explained to anyone’s satisfaction nor, indeed, even questioned by anyone.

And although things don’t end as happily as they could for Sherri, most people in the movie get a slightly happier ending. It’s a strange film though and I honestly thought that Adamson had done another patchwork job on this one, where he’d maybe started off shooting a sexy nurse film due to Roger Corman’s recent success at kick starting that genre and then decided a third of the way through the shoot that they were going to do a horror movie instead but, no, according to the section of the accompanying booklet in Severin’s amazing Al Adamson - The Masterpiece Collection Blu Ray boxed set, the plan was actually to shoot a horror/sexy nurse hybrid from the start. So colour me baffled. Also, though, the description of the film mentioned in the booklet also mentions some scenes shot in 35mm which are curiously absent from this original 16mm cut of the movie... so I don’t know if those sequences are lost or have turned up elsewhere.

Either way, if you want to see one of the most tonally bizarre movies that Adamson has done (and if you’ve read some of my Adamson reviews lately you’ll know he directed or doctored some curious hybrids in the course of his career), then Nurse Sherri would be my recommendation for that kind of experience. Really pleased I saw this one.

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