Some movies achieve dramatic tension through the brilliance of the director, or the skill of the editing. Nurse Sherri (also released under the title The Possession of Nurse Sherri) achieves dramatic tension through the sheer incoherence of its plot. You have no idea what’s going to happen yet, probably because the film-maker had no idea either. In spite of which, it has to be said that Nurse Sherri is strangely entertaining. OK, it’s the sort of entertainment value you get in an Ed Wood movie, but I happen to enjoy Ed Wood’s movies.
This film opens with some kind of religious cult trying to bring one of its members back from the dead. The charismatic leader of the cult then collapses with a heart attack. He’s taken to hospital, but refuses treatment, putting his faith in his own powers instead. Naturally he soon dies. Shortly afterwards one of the nurses at the hospital, the Nurse Sheri of the title, starts behaving oddly. We eventually discover she’s been possessed by the cult leader, and she sets out to take revenge on the medical staff.
There’s also a blind football player whose mother was a voodoo priestess, so he understands what’s happening. And there are Sherri’s two nurse friends, Tara and Beth, whose approach to nursing is a little unconventional. They seem to have considerable faith in the healing powers of sex, and whether their patients are actually getting better or not they’re certainly not complaining.
Towards the end, rather disappointingly, the plot starts to make some sense. There’s plenty of mayhem, and a small amount of gore. The special effects used in the possession scene are the highlight of the movie. They’re astonishingly bad, but they’re very amusing in a freaked-out psychedelic 60s way! Which is a little odd, since the movie was made in 1978.
The male actors in the movie are uniformly terrible, but they’re terrible in an endearing B-movie kind of way. The actresses playing Sheri and her two nurse buddies approach their task with the same lack of skill but with much more enthusiasm. Jill Jacobson as Sherri is so bad that her performance ends up actually working, providing the weirdness quotient that the movie needs.
It’s a very bad movie indeed, but it’s great fun if you’re prepared to embrace its awfulness and wallow in its campness. It’s released in a package with another movie from the same director, Al Adamson, a horror western called Five Bloody Graves. Two versions of Nurse Sherri are included, a sexploitation version (the one I watched) and a horror version.