Edith Gets Sloppy

Dennis Nilsen killed fifteen young men. He reasoned that he did so out of loneliness, but we’ll never really know why. His favorite thing to do was bathe his victims’ bodies and lay next to them naked, fantasizing that he was dead too. He kept them under his floorboards, and burned them when they started to smell. Toward the end of his murder spree, Nilsen moved and no longer had access to a backyard to burn them, so he took to cutting them up and flushing the parts down his toilet. Killing people is never wise to begin with, but that’s just plain stupid. His plumbing inevitably stopped working. The hardest part to believe is what he did next… wrote a strongly worded letter to his landlord insisting that his plumbing be fixed. The serviceman who responded found bones and hunks of human flesh in the manhole beside Nilsen’s flat. He set them on a ledge and made what I’m sure was an awkward call to his supervisor. Nilsen played dumb. He suggested that someone had flushed their Kentucky Fried Chicken. Then, after everyone left, and before detectives arrived the next morning, he climbed in and removed the material himself, which only aroused more suspicion. He died a few months ago, having served over 35 years in prison.

Like a handsomer Stephen King.

The self-professed BTK killer, Dennis Rader, would have gone to his grave unidentified if it weren’t for his ego. He strangled, asphyxiated, and stabbed ten people from 1974 to 1991, then dropped off the radar completely, “sleeping” for thirteen long years while he raised a family and worked 9 to 5 as a code enforcer. He never stopped craving attention, though, and emerged from the shadows in 2004 to play games with police. During this time, he asked if his whereabouts could be traced from a floppy disk. The cops lied and said no. He took the people whose job it was to arrest him at their word and sent one to a local TV station. The disk was traced to his church; it contained data that said something to the effect of “last modified by: Dennis”. He was picked up in pretty short order. He’s serving 175 years in prison.

One of WWE’s most controversial storylines.

My point is that bad people who do stupid things usually reap what they sow, especially when their names are Dennis.

Edith Mortley from the Death Nurse duology conforms to this paradigm and gives those two nincompoop killers a run for their money. She’s gotta be a contender for stupidest slasher villain in horror movie history.

Her motive is simple — cheddar. I don’t mean cheese. She’s an insurance scammer. Her and her mad doctor brother run an all-purpose medical center called Shady Palms Clinic out of their home. Edith stabs to death everyone who shows up within hours of their arrival, then bills their insurance for months of imaginary treatment. She’s mindful enough not to overcharge the insurance companies (for example, she only charges $2,750 for a $4,000 “surgery”), but her hobby gets away from her in a hurry. She kills a county social worker, a health inspector and a police lieutenant (the latter on her porch in broad daylight) to cover up what she’s done. These are the kinds of people who raise flags when they’re missing. And they do. Other people come looking for them. Edith’s alibi? It’s a good one. She advised her patients to move to Arizona, as if anyone could or would pick up and move on a whim cos a random nurse told them to.

You’re right, all that dry air and sun will be good for my health. I have tens of thousands of dollars stashed away, and a job won’t be that hard to find. I’ll do it.

I should have planned this out better.
Credit: Death Nurse 2, Slasher // Video DVD

She never really comes up with an alibi for the other victims. Her biggest mistake is feeding the diced-up cadavers to her pet rats Harold and Desmond, who she allows to roam freely, uncaged, in her home. The rats (or “longtails” as she affectionately refers to them) come and go from the house and in doing so scatter bloody bits of remains across the front lawn. A second police officer, this time a sergeant, has the bits analyzed and returns to arrest the sociopathic siblings. Even though he’s alone, they go without a fight. Game over.

I’m struggling to think of another slasher villain who brings about their undoing in a more brainless way. Can you think of any? What about real-life killers? Leave a comment below.

I love Death Nurse Parts 1 & 2. I still revisit them every so often. There’s always something new to pick up on or contemplate. It looks like they’re out of print now. Grab your copies from Ebay or wherever else you can before they start going for ungodly prices.

Credit: Facebook

“The Cemetery Sisters” (1987)

cemetery-sisters-both-cover-scans

Directed By
Nick Millard as Nick Philips

Versions Reviewed
25th Anniversary Slasher // Video DVD ©2013, Region: 1, Format: NTSC
(above right)

25th Anniversary Slasher // Video/Olive Films DVD ©2015, Region: 1, Format: NTSC
(below right)

Total Runtime For Each
~58 minutes, 0 seconds

~59 minutes, 45 seconds

Synopsis
Two newlyweds pull into a driveway. How do I know they’re newlyweds? There’s a piece of computer paper duct-taped to the front passenger door of their car that reads “Just Married”. The groom (Nick Millard) carries his wife (Leslie Simon) through the front door. He goes to kiss her on the couch. “Don’t.” she rebuffs. “Tell me [you love me].” The sister of the woman (Leslie’s real life sister, Joan Simon) runs in from off screen with a banshee-like screech and stabs the guy nineteen times in the back with a knife made of tinfoil. Nick Millard’s character falls to the floor, manages to drag himself across the room, and symbolically dies in front of a burning fireplace.

The two siblings, named… wait for it… Joan and Leslie, cold-heartedly calculate their inheritance based on the man’s life insurance and assets with the same adding machine Edith used in the Death Nurse duology. And then they laugh about it. Bitches.

Phenomenal job lighting this, guys.
Credit: Slasher // Video DVD

The sisters clean up Husband 1’s blood with some rags and a bucket of water.

“Did you have to stab him so often?” Leslie asks. I’m going to assume she meant much. To me, often implies that Joan stabbed him on several different occasions — like, stabbed him once, then stabbed him again a week later — which she didn’t do, I don’t think.

Where was I? The blood? Ah, yes, they pour it into a toilet.

The next day, Leslie writes out a personal ad for a magazine wearing one of those hideous floral print church dresses moms packed their closets with in the 80s while Joan’s boyfriend George (the robustly chinned Albert Eskinazi) rolls up in a badass, orange muscle car with a potted plant in hand the hopeless romantic.

“I’m glad that you’re here today, Leslie,” George starts, “because I have a question to ask Joan which concerns you too…” Then, turning to his beau, “Joan, I’d like to ask you to marry me.”

“Oh, George, of course I’ll marry you.” comes the reply, followed by much rejoicing.

This leads to a rapid-fire montage of stock footage of downtown Las Vegas. The forty-foot neon cowboy sign from the Pioneer Club Casino welcomes us with a wave. We meet up with George, Joan, and Leslie inside of a wedding chapel. The lovebirds say their I-dos.

Will George be killed too?

[continued below]

Thoughts (Possible Spoilers)
Well, yeah. There’s really no reason to think these black widows won’t knock off more dudefolk.

The next morning, all three of them go for a drive. “Stop the car.” Leslie demands. “I have to pee.”

“We’re out in the middle of nowhere. [There are] no gas stations around here.” George responds as they cruise past some parked cars and houses.

“Stop the car, or I’ll pee all over the seat.” Leslie pressures.

George parks and gets out. Leslie follows him up a hill and stabs him fifteen times in the back with a knife.

But why in God’s name are they doing this? Exposition reveals that Joan and Leslie grew up in a mortuary and are looking to recapture their youth by moving into another and filling it with their victims, or something.

The insert included with the 2013 release.

_________________________

The Cemetery Sisters is one of five no-budget hack-’em-ups to comprise Nick Millard’s shot-on-video slasher phase that spanned 1987 and 1988 — the other four being Death Nurse 1 & 2, Criminally Insane II, and Butcher Knife.

It’s par for the course for an SOV slasher. There’s not really “acting”, or “production”, or “care that went into it”. The picture is dark and washed out. The audio has a hum to it. Everything looks to have been wrapped in one take.

recurring-nightmare

There’s not much to say about it that I haven’t already said in my past reviews for those other movies I listed. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. I mean, they’re all pretty much the same thing. They were “filmed” back to back in the writer/producer/director/cameraman’s house, with the same cast, and all feature uncalled-for amounts of kill footage from the first Criminally Insane (1975), as well as shots of rats from Satan’s Black Wedding (also 1975) which are actually from Willard (1971)… try to keep up.

It’s probably not even possible to work out how much of each one is brand new material. I can identify the recycled 70s footage no problem, but I’ve noticed that they also share a lot of the same minor cutaway shots, because time, let’s save it! It’s always confusing when filmmakers splice movies together like this, but I guess it makes for an… interesting experience, if nothing else. Trying to understand why Nick Millard does what he does is futile at best. I’ve given up at this stage of the game.

I should point out that he spends a majority of the audio commentary defending his methodology, comparing his movies to major Hollywood pictures, and name-dropping historic filmmakers & film movements, none of which seems appropriate as none of those things should be mentioned alongside his work. I’ve got to hand it to him, though, he comes off as a well-cultured man. And he’s been pretty nice to me when I’ve messaged him.

The craziest twist on this 58-minute ride is a flashback scene that sees Joan whisked away to a time in her childhood when she brushed the hair of a corpse in her family’s mortuary. It’s weird because the younger version of Joan is played by what looks like a mentally handicapped boy. The casting choice had me shook until I turned on the commentary and Nick Millard remarked that it was his daughter. And then I felt shitty.

Judge Constance Harm.
Credit: The Simpsons, 20th Century Fox

Young Joan hangs around and looks on as her dad (Nick Millard, again) embalms a corpse with an air pump that for some reason makes a cartoon slide whistle noise. Then, she brings her baby doll (the aborted fetus from Butcher Knife) to the basement to peek at more corpses (inserted from Satan’s Black Wedding), and caps it all off by going to “the movies” to watch more of Satan’s Black Wedding, and most of the last act of Criminally Insane. Do you see what I mean now about all these flicks being the same goddamn thing?

In the end, I enjoy this one, but it’s not Millard’s best.

I own two Slasher // Video DVDs of this movie. One was released in 2013 and one in 2015. They’re essentially the same disc but with different menus and packaging. Features common to both are as follows: commentary with Nick and Irmgard Millard moderated by Jesus Teran of Slasher // Video, a Q&A session, a photo gallery, a skit titled Death Sisters, the art of Jazmin Martinez (she did the artwork for the first release), and a trailer. The 2013 release features four additional trailers for Boardinghouse, Death Nurse 1 & 2, and Trashology, whereas the 2015 release features three minutes of “outtakes” from the Q&A session and skit. Both are presented as “25th Anniversary” editions despite having been issued two years apart…

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???????????????!

Body Count
5.

Bod Count
0.

Overall Enjoyability
3 potted plants out of 5.

I Got My Copies From
Ebay.com.
Amazon.com.

Recommendations
Slasher // Video
Sub Rosa Studios
Massacre Video (seems to be down at the moment)

Edith Repeats Herself

Concepts are often repeated in movies to clarify an idea, stress the significance of something, or because it’s cool or dramatic. A staple of the Hellraiser series is that Pinhead and his gang of Cenobites are almost always preceded by the sight of a brilliant, blue haze spilling through slatted wood. In Blood Feast 2, a snippet of a Butthole Surfers song (“Sweat Loaf”) that goes “Satan! Satan! Satan!” plays every time the hoity-toity mom walks on screen.

For me, repetition is most effective when used as a plot device to bring everything full circle by connecting the beginning and end of a story somehow. Dario Argento is a bona fide master of this.

There are moments, though, when an instance of repetition serves no purpose at all. And that’s the case in Nick Millard’s Death Nurse. Edith the Death Nurse repeats not one, but two lines of dialogue back to back for what seems like no reason.

She does this for the first time at around the forty-five minute mark.

Septuagenarian social worker and patient Faith Chandler sneaks down the stairs of the Shady Palms Clinic in search of her two missing clients, who are also patients (oh, and unbeknownst to her, long-deceased).

Edith heads her off with an icy look. “Get back in bed, you nosy old bitch.”

“If you don’t take me to Mr. Davis and Mr. Bedowski, I’ll call social services.”

Edith repeats herself. “Get back in bed, you nosy old bitch.”

“All right, I’m going to phone.”

Usually, when people repeat themselves, they preface it with an “I said…” or “Didn’t you hear me?” Not Edith. She doesn’t roll that way. Below is an oscillating comparison of the first frames of each utterance, proving they were in fact from two different takes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Why does it matter? Well, if auteur Nick Millard had used one take twice, I would have thought, ok, maybe this guy forgot to film some other line of dialogue and was forced to reuse it. Knowing he had the foresight, however, to shoot the same sentence two different times leads me to believe he intended the conversation to play out as awkwardly and nonsensically as it did from the get-go.

The worst part is that Edith’s approach doesn’t work. It was all for naught. Faith Chandler ignores her and has to be stabbed to be silenced. I can’t help but wonder, would Edith’s tactics have been more successful in other movie situations?

Credit: Death Nurse, Slasher // Video DVD The Exorcist, Warner Bros. DVD

Credit: Death Nurse, Slasher // Video DVD
The Exorcist, Warner Bros. DVD

Edith repeats herself for a second time at around the fifty-six minute mark.

At that point, she peeks through her living room blinds to see a policeman snooping outside her garage. “Son of a bitch.” she remarks, tiptoeing the “son of a”, punching the “bitch”. The policeman walks up her drive to the front door. “Son of a bitch.” she repeats in the same exact tone of voice.

This wasn't Ms. Alden's most flattering angle. Credit: Slasher // Video DVD

This wasn’t Ms. Alden’s most flattering angle.
Credit: Slasher // Video DVD

As hilarious as it is, what’s the significance? Why were these lines so important that Mr. Millard felt the need to repeat them? Is there even a rhyme or reason to his mad genius? All I know is that I could revisit these scenes a thousand times each and they’d still crack me up. Maybe that’s what Millard was going for.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Death Nurse, and it probably won’t be the last. The deeper I dig, the more I find, and the farther I stray from reality. Investigating one of this movie’s mysteries leads to another. Questions are only answered with more questions. Nothing adds up.

Has anyone out there seen this? What are your favorite moments from Death Nurse or its equally madcap sequel?