Possession Of Nurse Sherri, The (1978)

If you’re only familiar with the name “Sherry” through novelty hits from Frankie Valli and Journey, you’ve got a lot to learn. Al Adamson is here to help.

But Adamson is gonna make you work. By now, that’s expected. If the extremes of Al’s fabled career in thrifty horror can be stapled in place by Doctor Dracula (slo-core agony) and Brain Of Blood (trash bliss), The Possesstion Of Nurse Sherri lies somewhere in the middle. That is, if you’re a normal person. And if you are a normal person, you have no business watching a movie made by Al Adamson.

The trees are without leaves. A hospital reeks of dusty confinement. Doctors elicit foreplay whilst in the throes of surgery. Within these walls, Nurse Sherri works her magic. After an evil cult leader possesses Sherri’s body, she’s out for revenge against everyone, even if they have nothing to do with the cult. Pitchforks gouge! Bad toupees fly! Meanwhile, A blind ex-football player named Marcus says “You’re jivin’ me” and talks about Haitian Voodoo while Nurse Tara (blaxploitation queen Marilyn Joi) falls in love with him. Doctor Peter tries to figure it all out, but loses track during the haunted car chase.

Released theatrically as Nurse Sherri and suffering from a major home video identity crisis in the 1980s (Black Voodoo takes the cake), The Possession Of Nurse Sherri is my idea of walking on air. Four minute scenes of guys driving in cars do not pose a threat — breathtaking irrationality is worth the hard labor. As it stands, Nurse Sherri was Al Adamson’s last major film, as well as his final collaboration with longtime friend and Independent-International genius Sam Sherman. Famous last words were never so dauntless.

I won’t kid you. Sherri and her pals LOVE to talk and there’s more than enough padding to go around. Combining those unfortunate traits might spell sudden death in the hands of a trash-auteur amateur, but this is the work of Al Adamson. Writhing, spastic edits carve through the stuttering dialogue. Hand-scribbled noise collages push the faux-art limits. Sherri’s voice is dubbed with the cult leader’s rasp in times of duress. People dig graves at the witching hour. The library music is thick with theremin and inappropriate brass.

All together, Nurse Sherri lingers. It’s a collective lump of everything you love (or hate) about Al Adamson’s singular, exploitive style. Creepy, claustrophobic, or just plain crazy? It’s all three.

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