Oh my giddy aunt, a double bill of Al Adamson films (a triple bill if you include the alternate cut of NURSE SHERRI on disc 2 of this 2-disc set). Where do I begin ...?
FIVE BLOODY GRAVES (a.k.a. GUN RIDERS; FIVE BLOODY DAYS TO TOMBSTONE; THE LONELY MAN) is the earlier of the two, having been released in 1970 - no doubt to cash in on the success of SOLDIER BLUE.
Here we are introduced to heroic Ben Thompson (Robert Dix, CAIN'S CUT-THROATS), whose wife is killed by brutal Yaqui Indian chief Setago (John Cardos, NIGHTMARE IN WAX).
Swearing to avenge her death, Ben scours the deserts of Utah in search of her killer. It's here that, after saving an innocent woman from the unwanted attentions of two primitive Indians, he meets his old girlfriend Nora (Vicki Volante, BRAIN OF BLOOD) - whom he also saves from an attack by Setago and his wild-eyed, scalp-collecting posse.
Unfortunately Nora's husband Dave (Ken Osborne, HELL'S BLOODY DEVILS) turns up and assumes the worst. Accusing Ben of fiddling with his wife in his absence, Dave orders him to leave.
Which is a bad move, as the Indians are ready to attack again - and ideally Nora and Dave could've done with his help when they do ...
Eventually, this all leads to Ben joining up with a disparate group of travellers who must work together if they are to defeat the Indians, and allow Ben to claim his revenge against Setago.
FIVE BLOODY GRAVES was a chore to sit through. Some of the photography, admittedly, was attractive - making good use of Utah's wide open spaces, it's photogenic desert landscapes and alluring blue skies.
But the story limps along at a tiresome pace, punctuated by initially amusing yet soon boringly inane dialogue (written by Dix, incidentally), delivered with no gusto whatsoever by one of the worst, least charismatic casts ever to grace the screen.
Although violent for it's time, with multiple scalpings and damp squib shoot-outs to celebrate, FIVE BLOODY GRAVES can't even be recommended on that level - you've seen it all before, done a million times better.
NURSE SHERRI (a.k.a. BEYOND THE LIVING; BLACK VOODOO; HANDS OF DEATH; HOSPITAL OF TERROR; KILLER'S CURSE; TERROR HOSPITAL; THE POSSESSION OF NURSE SHERRI - the latter being the onscreen title on this DVD) fares slightly better. It starts with a baffling desert-set prologue presumably intending to mimic THE EXORCIST's opening sequence ... and failing miserably.
In the desert, occult leader Reanhauer (Bill Roy, BLACK SAMURAI) and his followers attempt to raise a dead body. They fail, and Reanhauer winds up suffering a heart attack for his troubles. He is hospitalised and looked after by the curvy nurse Sherri (Jill Jacobson, UP YOURS - A ROCKIN' COMEDY).
We learn that Sherri has a doctor boyfriend - Peter (Geoffrey Land, DOCTOR DRACULA) - she's very much in love with, and an agreeable bedside manner at work (particularly to a blind patient who Adamson uses as an excuse to show us how "good" Sherri is). Oh, and she looks great in a uniform.
But when Reanhauer dies on the operating table, where Sherri just happens to be present, his spirit floats into her body and she becomes possessed.
Slowly but surely, Sherri's nature changes. She's no longer the nice accommodating nurse we've been treated to - suddenly she's given to being sulky, pulling silly (I assume scary?) faces and doing things like ramming pitchforks through unsuspecting men's backs.
Hampered by bad acting, dim lighting and Adamson's trademark clunky direction, NURSE SHERRI does at least offer some mediocre thrills by way of its clichéd possession scenes, and murder set pieces. It's not overly gory, but there are moments of minor bloodletting to be enjoyed.
It moves at a fair pace, despite the fact most of the cast have trouble getting their lines out (Roy in particular is hilariously inept at delivering his dialogue).
NURSE SHERRI is the better of the two films (that's not saying much), and this 2-disc set from Shock-O-Rama also offers an alternate cut of the movie - the sexploitation version that played in grindhouses during the 70s.
See, Adamson shot two cuts - one for the horror crowd, with less nudity but a few added scenes of demonic madness (the version reviewed) and another that tempered the horror elements in favour of more sex, including three additional scenes of bonking. It's a shame that no composite print exists, but two versions of the film will more than suffice.
All three films are "remastered", and yet they don't look too great. Sure, there's minimal grain and there's no artefacting going on, but the prints used are sadly scratchy and overly dark. All three are presented in their original aspect ratios and have been enhanced for 16x9 TV sets.
The English mono audio tracks on each movie seem fine, free from excessive hissing or drop-outs.
Disc one's extras come in the shape of commentary tracks from producer Sam Sherman, who speaks fluently throughout both films, offering good recollections of the shoots. He speaks with a genuine fondness when recalling Adamson, and gives a good lecture on the unreliability of film credits at the beginning of his NURSE SHERRI track.
We also get some novel animated menu screens, reproducing the atmosphere of the grindhouse cinema event, offering trailers for these films and a couple more (CINDERELLA 2000, anyone?) as "intermissions" between the two main features.
Disc two offers the aforementioned alternate cut of NURSE SHERRI (with a slightly worse transfer than the "horror" version on disc one). As mentioned above, this version tones down the horror and serves up a lovemaking session with Sherri, a medical consultant getting orally pleasured while conducting a speech and a lesbian encounter instead. It's a fair trade, I guess ...
Also on disc two is a 13-minute video interview with NURSE SHERRI co-star Marilyn Joi (she plays Sherri's black nurse friend). She's aged very well, and comes across well while recalling the shoot, and discussing her interpretations of the movie's voodoo influences.
Finally, there's another clutch of trailers on hand - NAUGHTY STEWARDESSES, BLAZING STEWARDESSES, THE MEAN MOTHER etc.
Inside the packaging is a fold-out booklet with some interesting cover artwork for both movies, plus a reprint of an old interview.
A good package from Shock-O-Rama. Adamson fans will lap this up - but if you're unfamiliar with Adamson's output, please proceed with caution ...
Review by Stu Willis
|Released by Shock-O-Rama|
|Region 1 - NTSC|
|see main review|