DVD Review: Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection

What is it about a nurses that makes them so tempting? Is it their caring bedside manner? Is it how they can make you feel calm as they stab a needle into your arm? Perhaps it’s their ability to administer a sponge bath that makes you feel so clean yet a touch dirty. Sure the reality of working as a nurse isn’t so sexy. The long hours, the cranky doctors and the fear that screwing up can kill a patient. But let it be known that Roger Corman isn’t a stickler for realism. When he started New World Pictures, Corman made The Student Nurses. The film became a hit with its mixture of social issues and nudity. Naturally success breeds sequels. This led to four additional titles that came out yearly to satisfy moviegoers that had a sensible shoe fetish. Roger Corman’s Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: The Nurses Collection should be covered under the healthcare mandates. The Student Nurses isn’t featured in this collection. Don’t panic since you don’t need to know about that film since each Nurse film featured a whole new trio of actresses at different hospitals.

Private Duty Nurses (1971 – 79 minutes) does follow the basic formula of The Student Nurses. There are three nurses with issues that get explored as separate storylines, but they come together at the end of the film to help each other. Spring (Katharine Cannon) gives her private duties to Domino (Dennis Redfield). The guy is rushed into the hospital after a nasty motorcycle wreck. Lynn (Pegi Boucher) hangs out with her ecological boyfriend as he fights to clean up the oceans. They spend a lot of time by the beach getting naked together. Lola (Joyce Williams) is a black nurse who wants to give back to her community after a tragic death. Dick Miller plays a cop. This isn’t the most exciting of entries. Think of this as Medical Center with nudity. Director George Armitage would eventually make Grosse Point Blank. Night Call Nurses (1972 – 77 minutes) opens with a patient jumping off the roof of a psychiatric hospital. Being a Corman film, the woman makes sure she loses her hospital gown before jumping. Alana Collins, Patty Byrne and Mittie Lawrence are the nurses who get written threats. They get attacked to a black radical that’s being treated. They want to help the guy escape instead of heading back to prison. Alana Collins glows in her nurse garb. She’s the perfect California blond which is why she ended up married to both George Hamilton and Rod Stewart. Dick Miller plays Mr. Jensen. Director Jonathan Kaplan eventually made Truck Turner starring Isaac Hayes.

The Young Nurses (1973 – 75 minutes) are rather young and open to new experiences. Angela Elayne Gibbs goes on a crusade against drug dealers. Jeane Manson hangs out at boat races. Ashley Porter practices medicine without a license to help others who can’t afford a doctor. Dick Miller returns in a cop role. Candy Stripe Nurses (1974 – 77 minutes) wraps up the series by getting younger than the Young Nurses. Three high schoolers find themselves volunteering at a local hospital for different reasons. Maria Rojo is a troublemaker who gets in trouble. She has to either put on the candy strip rope or face a harsher punishment. Her time on the ward involves a patient arrested for robbing a gas station. She wants to prove the guy is innocent. Candice Rialson likes banging a doctor. But she also flirts with other patients including rocker Owen Boles. Robin Matson gives her time to build up her chances to get into med school. She takes an interest in a basketball player that’s doing drugs during games. Dick Miller is a spectator at a basketball game.

Roger Corman’s Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: The Nurses Collection is an medical marathon filled with sisters of mercy. The four films do their best to stick to the action and keep things interesting. Corman wasn’t looking to make great hospital dramas. He also just didn’t want to turn these into jiggle and giggle flicks. There were serious subjects mixed with the nudity. He gave just the right amount of plot to make things seem educational. For those of you wondering, The Student Nurses is slated to be released on a set that includes The Student Teachers and Summer School Teachers. It’s easy to see how Corman built up a following for the Nurses series since they feel therapeutic.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The transfers look so much better than any of the previous DVD releases. There’s a little flickering in the image when they shoot around fluorescent lights which is normal. The details of ‘70s hospital care are clear. The sound is mono. The levels are fine for quickie productions.

Anatomy of a Nurse Film (14:01)
breaks down Corman’s formula for the series. Directors Jonathan Kaplan and Allan Holleb discuss how they made these films. A two key elements are nudity and Dick Miller. Kaplan’s time with the nurses paid off royally when he became a producer and director on ER.

Paging Dr. Corman (12:24) lets Roger and Julie Corman discuss how this film series helped New World establish itself as an indie studio and distribution company. He talks about how after the Private Duty Nurses Association wrote a letter complaining about The Student Nurses. Roger used their name as the next title in the series.

Roger Corman’s Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: The Nurses Collection is a healthcare package that we can all support. Four tales of nurses that are learning about life through their patients. They also make sure they don’t constantly stay in uniform. This is a fine collection of exploitation medical dramas.

Shout! Factory presents Roger Corman’s Cult Classics All-Night Marathon: The Nurses Collection. Starring: Candice Rialson, Alana Collins and Dick Miller. Boxset Contents: 4 Films on 2 DVDs. Released on DVD: April 17, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.