Sexy killer nurse movie Nurse 3D starts filming
August 2011 -- In recent weeks various film media have reported that the actress Paz De La Huerta will star in Nurse 3D, a new horror film about a sexy but vengeful nurse who targets "dishonest" men for "severe" punishment. Despite suggestions by executives at the production company Lionsgate that this theme is novel and original, it is really just a variation on the classic naughty nurse stereotype that has become well-established in products including prior horror films and ads, such as the posters used to promote the 2006 release of Lionsgate's own Saw III--posters on which Nurse 3D seems to be based. Such imagery, which we call the "naughty-axe," unites the profession's naughty and battle-axe images into one unsavory package of sex and violence, and so it suggests that nursing is all about mindless feminine extremes, rather than life-saving work for skilled professionals of both genders. We hesitate to criticize media products that we have not seen, but it's hard to see how a film with this basic outline--and a promotional photo of a naked, blood-covered nurse De La Huerta--could avoid harming nursing. The film does not start production until next month, but the creators are clearly aiming to exploit the 3D format to bring viewers violence and sexuality, so it's difficult to see how the film could become less harmful to nursing unless the main character had a different job. Please join us in urging those responsible for Nurse 3D to minimize the nursing element, to show that the main character at least has some health skills, and to make amends for the damage their film will likely cause.
Click here to go straight to our letter-writing campaign or read more below.
Reporting on the movie tends to emphasize the assets De La Huerta brings to the project, particularly the "NSFW" promotional photo in which she wears nothing in between her nurse's cap and high heels (unless you count the blood). Neil Miller's July 14 item on the Film School Rejects site is headlined "Paz De La Huerta is Naked, Covered in Blood and Ready to 'Nurse' You in 3D." The item notes that the actress has not been shy about revealing her body in previous projects, like HBO's Boardwalk Empire, but "seeing her in the nude, covered from head-to-toe in blood wearing at least 4-inch high heels…is really something." Presumably quoting Lionsgate promotional material, the item notes that
De La Huerta will play "Abby Russell, a beautiful, dedicated nurse with a sinister side, and a secret life's work in which she targets and punishes dishonest men." Are you a dishonest man? You will be if you deny wanting to click through and see the full poster in all of its NSFW, adult eyes-only glory.
Apparently, the film is based on some "fine art" photos of naughty-axes that Lionsgate head of marketing Tim Palen took and used to promote a blood drive to mark the Halloween 2006 premiere of the third entry in the company's popular Saw horror film series. According to Scott Collura's July 14 piece on the IGN site, which is subtly headlined "Paz De La Huerta + Psycho-Sexual 3D Thriller = We're There; 'Nuff said":
"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," reads a press release. They're talking about his great Saw nurse posters.
So, the photos "explored the intersection of caretaking and punishment in an ongoing series of fine art photographs"? Richard Prince, look out! In fact, those Saw promotional posters were basically standard naughty-axe imagery, as we explained when they were released to promote Saw III, though they are tamer than the De La Huerta promotional image and the damage they caused will presumably pale in comparison to what the feature-length film Nurse 3D may cause.
Film School Rejects adds helpful quotes from Lionsgate executives.
"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," explained Mike Paseornek, Lionsgate's President of Production and the executive in charge of the film. "That concept was the perfect germ for this thrilling story, which will be extremely visceral in 3D."
Palen himself says that "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." Yes, we just hope Oscar voters aren't too confused by these deep concepts to recognize the film's true worth. Some in the media seem to think that they are seeing something really new. The Celebrity Café site's Holly Coletta allows, in an August 6 item about the addition of former High School Musical star Corbin Bleu to the cast, that the "plot of the gorefest" is "about as simple as the title." But she says, in describing the Palen's photos, that the "subject matter is actually pretty interesting."
We wish the subject matter really was novel and unusual, but unfortunately, naughty-axe imagery has been around for years, providing a heady mix of fear and sexuality, but also uniting the naughty and battleaxe stereotypes of nursing in one unholy package. Recent examples just from the horror film genre include Silent Hill (2006), Candy Stripers (2006), and Sick Nurses (2007), but the naughty-axe goes back to the album art for blink-182's Enema of the State (1999) and beyond. Yes, it may just be a "joke," and it may even be "artful" and "sophisticated," but even fictional images convey powerful messages about the world, or else modern advertisers would not spend billions of dollars on them. And jokes are one of the most common ways that stereotypes are reinforced. As 18th century British poet Charles Churchill said, "A joke is a very serious thing."
The basic concept of Nurse 3D may seem to subvert nursing's angel image, but by using the naughty and battle-axe images, the film reinforces the public's pre-existing notions that nursing is a throwback job marked by mindless feminine extremes, whether sexual or vengeful, rather than a modern science profession for college-educated persons of both genders. Such stereotypes undermine real nurses' claims to adequate respect and resources.
We urge those making Nurse 3D to at least minimize the damage their film will likely cause to nursing, and to consider making amends in a tangible way. And if anyone happens to see the film shooting in Toronto next month, don't hesitate to let those involved know that, although De La Huerta's character may engage in fake violence in Nurse 3D, the stereotypes the film is exploiting harm real nurses. Thank you.
Send your snail mail to:
Steve Beeks, Chairman and COO
Lionsgate Films Productions
2700 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404