Two years ago, horror enthusiast David Kerr released his debut feature, Curse of the Slasher Nurse (read our review here). With an ultra-low estimated budget of $6,000, saying that Kerr’s first attempt was bound together with shoestrings, blood-covered duct tape and elbow grease would be generous. Of course, it had flaws. But any true horror fan is willing to check out practically anything. I mean, come on. Basket Case (1982 – read our retro review here)? Almost anything from Troma? We love it all! Especially an indie flick made from passion to pay homage to the heyday of horror otherwise known as the ’80s. Kerr’s sophomoric feature film and sequel to his debut, Return of the Slasher Nurse, is no exception.
With the Mitchell sisters, Anneke and Lily (Curse of the Slasher Nurse’s Kea Raines and Amber Fulcher), still at large six years after the infamous cabin massacre, Kara Warden (newcomer Alaina Alfaro) is looking into the disappearance of her big sister, Aeron. Going on a hunch that her sibling went missing for the same reasons as Josh (Josh Shifflett: Curse of the Slasher Nurse), she reluctantly enlists the help of said victim’s brother, Jacks Taylor (also Josh Shifflett) who is, apparently, Josh’s identical twin who shares the same asshole gene as his sibling. After an interrogation goes array due to impulsive anger issues from Jacks – not hard to believe – the vigilante duo go into hiding… but not before the psycho sisters catch wind of the pursuit of vengeance.
What did Kerr’s original ambitious ’80s slasher throwback, Curse of the Slasher Nurse, do right? Simple practical effects to the tune of a metal soundtrack with balls dangling in the background (metaphorically speaking. This is a horror film, after all. Clarification is necessary).
Return of the Slasher Nurse bumps things up a notch while continuing to sideline loathsome CGI in favor of true practical effects. Flexing a marginally bigger budget than its predecessor, this followup serves as an example of Kerr’s willingness to notice shortcomings and sharpen his amateur filmmaking skill set.
Along with familiar faces including Raines and Fulcher, Kerr is joined by newcomers such as Spartacus Jones, who made his filmmaking debut as a lovable wrecking ball named Spartacus. Adding just enough cheese to his character without buttering down his lethality, Spartacus just might stand a chance against the Mitchell sisters. There could have been more of his character and less of others. But let me be clear… he’s no final girl. Alaina Alfaro, however, just might be a worthier advisory. Doing a phenomenal job as a rookie leading an indie, Alfaro is surprisingly fearless in front of the camera. Displaying raw potential, this could be far from her last act.
Raines returns as the slasher nurse donning that decrepit mask portraying a force of insanity and unnurtured death. However, trouble is doubled in this followup as this masked, massacring muscle is balanced by Fulcher, who reprises and reinvents her character of Lily, the lunatic brains beyond the murderous operation. She appears to be having fun while taking out some aggression. Perhaps this was her way of relationship venting on account of being married to the director? Ha! Just kidding, Dave … don’t send Kea after me to make a found footage film, Slasher Nurse Part 3.
Learning from his first venture, Kerr takes framing many of his shots to a higher level. This could also be attributed to the addition of Owen D. Young Jr. as the film’s cinematographer. Either way, this element is a welcome improvement along with the general production value. Brandished scenes with traditional slasher vibes made famous by the Bates Motel in Psycho, as well as cheesy Friday the 13th Part 3 3D elements, are all worth noting. However, some dialogue, dialogue transitions, blocking transitions and sound could have used a little more attention. With a runtime that spans a little over two hours for this subgenre, Return of the Slasher Nurse could have used some condensed dialogue and scene trimming. But anyone who has created anything on any level will know the painful concept of killing your darlings. High five to Adam Robertson returning as composer for the sequel as well.
Featuring numerous kill variations while incorporating a comedic Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives vibe combined with the obvious Halloween influence, Return of the Slasher Nurse lightly pokes fun at stereotypes within the genre while not taking itself too seriously. Hell, intended or not, it even gives a brief reminiscence of Hatchet II, in a very weird, fucked up way, during a kinky scene that would make Adam Green blush.
Another favorite element is the addition of practical effects. While many of these scenes aren’t too realistic and some are very suggestive, there is still enough attention to detail to make one squirm just a little. One thing is for certain. There are more goreific scenes in Kerr’s sadistic sequel.
Some trolls and critics who reviewed Curse of the Slasher Nurse had some pretty scathing things to say, and I can see them gearing up, yet again, with their loathsome words. However, I believe many of them may be so spoiled by Hollywood’s infinite pockets to effectively pick apart a film. Passionate fans of artistic defecation and deformation in the genre that we all know and love will see something of value in almost anything, with the exception being films that cannot form a follow-able story plot. Hey, it happens. Of course, some indie features with fortunate resources at their disposal can be better than others, but we all have to start somewhere. While Kerr is far from perfect, the important thing is that he is sharpening his craft.
While some supporting performances had more to be desired in Kerr’s first two feature films, the passionate ideas, practical effects and growing filmmaking techniques show promise in his upcoming film, Bloody Summer Camp. If you’re interested in contributing to a crowdfunding campaign for this horror enthusiast/writer/director’s next film, be sure to check out the details here!