If one of the great virtues of horror movies is its essential peanut-butter-and-chocolate combination of sex and violence, Doug Aarniokoski’s Nurse 3D, opening today, must have been blessed by Saint Reese’s. Paz de la Huerta, whose distinguishing characteristic as an actress is her aversion to clothing, plays Abby Russell, a skillful physician’s assistant who moonlights as a vigilante sexpot preying upon philanderers and sleazeballs.
Suffice it to say that the premise alone promises plentiful nudity and shamelessly gory violence. But rather than bothering with the prosaic challenge of reviewing Nurse 3D, we decided instead to catalogue the movie’s odd sexual proclivities, which seem destined to prompt a little roleplaying between kinkier cinemagoers, if not generally inspire audience members to integrate a few new tricks into their slap-and-tickle repertoire.
1. Having sex with a partner who has a dozen hypodermic needles stuck in his chest.
In the film, Abby is sort of like Batman – that is, if the Caped Crusader offered handies to perps before meting out justice. Following a scene in which she lures an unsuspecting horndog to her, uh, medical examination room (the film doesn’t show how they got there), she ties him down, mounts the poor sucker and rides him, like, well, a corpse, climaxing as we discover that he’s been injected with a few dozen CCs of something-or-other to immobilize him.
Surgical precision is one of Abby’s many talents, and because she makes final-act talking killers seem monosyllabic by comparison, she makes it clear that she’s controlled the dosage pumped into her necromantic companion. Suffice it to say it might take a few tries to get the right amount of “paralysis juice” into your partner’s system, but if you have to enlist the supervision of a doctor, who knows? You might discover two new fetishes rather than one.
2. A partner who always seems to be wearing a wig – sideways.
Anyone who’s seen Paz de la Huerta in a movie or on TV before knows she’s a bit of an oddball – not only eager to shed her britches, but a performer from the school of Crispin Glover, or at his most extreme, Nicolas Cage, where believability takes a back seat to a certain kind of cartoonish uniqueness. In Nurse 3D, she delivers her lines like they’re being played on a turntable that keep alternating speeds, and makes herself up like a party girl whose style appears to be “morning walk of shame, 24 hours a day.”
Even when she’s perfectly coiffed, at work and at play, her hair feels… off, as if, yeah, she’s wearing a wig that got yanked loose after a rough night. Meanwhile, her syrupy speech pattern feels pregnant with double-secret mysterious meanings, even when she’s discussing the most ordinary and decidedly unerotic of tasks. And while a mussed appearance and a good double entendre might already get your juices flowing, after watching this film, you may find yourself a little randier than usual when your partner walks in from work, clothes mud-stained and wet from a puddle, and announces, “my doctor said my cholesterol is too high. Oh also, I sharted.”
3. Donald Ducking.
To be honest, this is probably already a thing – when a person walks around with a short or some kind of top on, but no pants or bottoms of any kind. But as evidenced by Donald Sutherland in Animal House or Julianne Moore in Short Cuts, this particular sartorial choice is typically portrayed as either a humorous or dramatic counterpoint to the dialogue, and seldom as a genuine display of erotic liberation. And quite frankly, it comes as little surprise that de la Huerta is the one to turn it into a turn-on.
Admittedly, de la Huerta actually does this so often it almost becomes Girls-style nudity – meaning extraordinarily normal, and really not altogether sexual. But honestly, that’s more of a byproduct of its frequency in the film than the character’s intent, which is to keep people off guard – or maybe draw them in – with her unapologetic sensuality. So when trying this at home, remember two things: one, it’s basically never sexy for a guy to do this, because he just looks like Winnie the Pooh, and two, maybe ask your lady friend to deploy this sex bomb in moderation, so that you don’t get so tired of her lady parts that you actually start calling that style “de la Huerta’ing.”
4. Elective surgery – like the amputation of whole limbs.
Amputee/disfigurement porn already has to exist, right? Surely J.G. Ballard didn’t come up with the idea of people fetishizing car crashes out of his imagination. Nevertheless, Aarniokoski ups the ante by having Abby turn the tables on one suitor by strapping him down to a gurney after promising sex and then slowly disfiguring him. She starts with a scalpel, carving the word “pig” in his chest, but moves onto to bigger and better things, eventually taking a bone saw to the poor fellow’s right arm.
Mind you, this sort of sexual transgression requires a considerable amount of trust – primarily that they know what the hell they’re doing with the knife, saw or whatever cutting device they choose to use for their amateur surgery. But for those folks who are really into bodily fluids, this particular addition to your personal Encyclopedia Erotica seems like it’s gushing, literally, with potential.
5. Windows ’98.
Technically speaking, this probably overlaps in some grand Venn diagram between people who obsess over technology, and people preoccupied with nostalgic ideas about the world. But for a movie that definitely takes place today – at least according to the characters’ iPhones and their penchant for Skyping – several of the characters have conspicuously outdated software in their computers, evidenced by the flapping of files as they move from one folder to another on the desktop of their computers.
Precisely how this will get you horny, admittedly, is a little unclear. Maybe if floppy disks get you hard. Or perhaps if your idea of a beautiful figure is the geometric shape you just spent a week creating on an Apple II GS. But Nurse 3D somehow manages to create one of the most consistent and constant sexual atmospheres in recent cinema history, with virtually every scene featuring nudity, innuendo or some other sleazy exchange. As a result, even things that are totally asexual start to seem kinda hot, so when Abby sends provocative photos of her coworker as blackmail, the suspense of watching them expand from a Zip file creates a sense of sensory anticipation that cannot be mistaken – and just might carry over for the next time somebody cc’s you on some New Hire paperwork.
6. Totally lowbrow smut, gussied up in highbrow style.
Nurse 3D essentially began as a photography project by Tim Palen, the chief marketing officer of Lionsgate, the film’s distributor. And honestly, the images weren’t just striking, or beautiful – they were hot. Aarniokoski borrows liberally from the photographer’s aesthetic for many scenes in the movie, but in others abandons stylization altogether, unless alternating red and blue light bulbs count. But under both lenses, the filmmaker depicts – and describes – some of the sleaziest raw-dog sexual encounters this side of The Wolf of Wall Street. (I won’t go into detail, but finger-fucking was among the acts depicted in the movie.)
Of course, sophisticated smut is nothing new; hell, in the ’90s, Hollywood made scores of movies, from Basic Instinct to Single White Female to Sliver to Showgirls, where gorgeous men and women found themselves drawn into inescapable webs of sexual intrigue, amidst the repressed affluence of their always-white, mostly-upper class lifestyles. But the difference between then and now is either that the boundaries of permissible acts has expanded, or Aarniokoski and Lionsgate just don’t give a fuck. Which is why for every beautifully-composed shot of a backless dress swimming through a sea of buttoned-up masculinity, there’s a handjob to go with it. And quite frankly, loosed from the safety and respectability of mainstream depictions of sex, it manages to be weirdly, erratically enticing.
7. Seeing Paz de la Huerta fully clothed
Despite having begin her career in 1998, Paz de la Huerta has a lot of acting credits, many in reputable, artistic films. But despite my best efforts, and a careful perusing of IMDB, I honestly cannot remember any of the ones where she has not appeared naked. From Fierce People to Choke to The Limits of Control to Enter the Void to Boardwalk Empire, this attractive and talented young actress seems predisposed to remove her costume multiple times per project.
As detailed above, she does indeed remove her clothing several times in Nurse 3D, in a variety of scenarios that range from aggressively sexual to thoroughly mundane. But weirdly, she also does a lot of those same kinds of scenes with all of her clothes on. Even when she’s about to do some of her dirtiest work, there are times when you cannot see any part of her body that would be covered up by a one-piece bathing suit. And man, that is just bizarre. And that mystery, even long since revealed, is pretty damn hot.