[Editor's Note: Poster Lab is your weekly dose of movie poster dissection, wherein the House examines the pluses, minuses, and in-betweens of the poster design(s) for a buzzworthy film.]
Here's a new one: Nurse 3D, a horror thriller that goes full throttle with the Kill Bill vignette of a whistling Daryl Hannah, is inspired by the photography of Lionsgate's chief marketing officer Tim Palen, who's certainly made his mark in the world of gorno advertising. If you've never heard of Palen, you've no doubt seen his work, which has ushered in the splattery installments of the Saw and Hostel franchises. It's Palen you have to thank if you got a kick out of the severed, Swamp-Thing fingers on the Saw II poster, or the close-up shot of raw boar meat that promoted Hostel: Part II (Palen bought the meat from a butcher and photographed it in his home). How one gets from there to a film about a killer nurse is uncertain, but there's something intriguing—and, yes, artful—about Palen's story and aesthetic, which both seem shrewdly perverse. The meat poster for Hostel: Part II is terrific, and the one-sheet for the first installment, whose image Palen plucked from the daguerreotype collection of a medical photographer, isn't too shabby either. This is a true designer who knows the power and value of iconography, even if his interests have a way of turning the stomach.
So while the fleshy posters for Nurse 3D may seem like imitators of last year's squirmy ads for The Human Centipede 2, Palen is merely nudging forward an envelope he's been pushing for years, getting so direct in his courting of freaky audiences that he's even providing the teet on which to suck ("Nurse!" Get it!?). With the film reportedly drawn from Palen's supple shots, a curious viewer finds himself in a chicken-egg dilemma. Were the stills above created after production wrapped? Or did Paz de la Huerta once do a plasma-soaked striptease for the photographer? Did writer David Loughery and director Doug Aarnioski have their baby in the can before picking Palen's brain? Or did they sit in on a little breastfeeding photo session and shout "Eureka?" Whatever the case, the posters, which definitely won't be coming to a theater near you, are fully equipped to nail the pleasure centers of a blood- and boob-loving demographic, making Jennifer's Body look like a schoolyard tease.
Palen's Nurse creations directly recall some pics he's taken in the past, which may, in fact, have gotten the ball rolling on a Palen-inspired feature. Before there was a Carrie-like still of a homicidal public servant (like Megan Fox's maneater, the nurse ropes in cheating guys before spilling their guts), there was Palen's alternate Hostel: Part II poster, which featured another nude woman, casually clutching her own severed head. Could this have been the photo that sparked the tale of svelte murderess? Who leaves nothing but severed limps in her wake? If so, let's hope the "adaptation" of Palen's body-part trickery isn't becoming a trend, or Nurse 3D's follow-up might just springboard off of this.