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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents

Candy Stripers (2006)

"Yummy!"- Janine (Deanna Brooks)

Stars: Brian Lloyd, Tori White, Deanna Brooks
Other Stars: Nicole Rayburn, Sierra Tawan, Brianna Berman, William Edwards Jr., Kevin Thomas Fee, Leah Foster, Eliza Swenson, Terri Lynn Harris, Pearl Anne Lopez, Barry J. Ratcliffe, Gerald Smith, Andrew Welsh
Director: Kate Robbins

MPAA Rating: R for horror violence and gore, sexuality and some language
Run Time: 01h:29m:24s
Release Date: 2006-06-27
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C-B-B- D-


DVD Review

Candy Stripers is a curious little wannabe horror title, one with grand potential to make up for its low budget camp with gratuitous nudity, but given that it was written and directed by a woman it almost seems perversely sexist for me—as a dopey male viewer—to expect more blatant skin. But bear with me, because even the title of this one brings to mind more of a sex romp than a horror film.

We have a film featuring sexy nurses in tight outfits and a propensity to suck on lollipops with an amorous intensity, but yet the skin quota (for a film starring a couple of former Playboy Playmates: Sierra Tawan and Deanna Brooks) is deceptively low. I know if genre masters like Fred Olen Ray or Jim Wynorski directed Candy Stripers, we would knee-deep in bare caregivers, and if the horror element tanked most viewers wouldn't really care at that point.

But I don't want to get bogged down with breasts, because that's wrong, and I know it. Kate Robbins wrote and directed Candy Stripers (Jill Garson shares writing credits), and Robbins' producer credits are very respectable, including films like the quirky weirdness of The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things and Undertaking Betty. Here the simple plot doesn't quite have the same kind of bizarreness found in those films, and does another variation on the tried and true "alien-lifeform-that-passes-itself-from-host-to-host-via-the-mouth" format, with the setting being a sparsely populated hospital.

The alleged wrinkle here is that an infectee is compelled to breed and have a mighty strong sugar fix, so Robbins alternates between sexy sucker sucking and wacky comedy like a gaggle of alien-controlled nurses scarfing down packets of sugar like rabid monkeys. The heroes/victims are a standard issue assortment of old looking "teenagers" who must somehow battle their way out of the quarantined hospital, and in a strange twist, Candy Stripers almost manages to get better during its second half, where it takes on a semblance of a Scooby-Doo cartoon (and I mean no disrespect by that).

All is not completely lost here, even if the effects and sets are a little low rent and most of the acting is unremarkably adequate, because Nicole Rayburn turns the often overdone bitchy cheerleader/girlfriend role into something that nearly morphs into comic genius. Rayburn steals every scene she's in, and as one-note as the character is, she plays it just this side of pure camp and she's a whole lot of fun to watch.

As a directorial debut for Robbins, this isn't necessarily the absolute dregs of modern cinema (Rayburn helps prevent that), though it's miles from being particularly good. Obviously working within some tight, tight budgetary constraints, Robbins attempts to ply a balance between horror and titillation, while providing things like a blood-spewing decapitation and death by alien-induced oral sex. Those things are all fine, as is the occasional nurse nudity, but at the end of the day this is just another low-budget horror title that doesn't deliver all that it should to set itself apart in one way or another.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Candy Stripers has been issued in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, though the transfer itself doesn't really tip the scales too far either way. For a low-budget horror title, it's not awful—the print is fairly clean, colors are bright, with generally natural fleshtones, but image detail waffles from scene to scene. There aren't any major gaffes here, just some soft edges and occasional grain which mars an otherwise average transfer, given the source material.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Only one audio choice here, and it's Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Not an overly aggressive or flashy mix, but one that provides clean dialogue and a some modest directional movement across the front channels.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Ultraviolet, Death Tunnel, Decoys, Ring Around The Rosie, Population 436, The Boondocks
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extras are a brief set of trailers, though not for the feature. The disc is cut into 12 chapters, with optional subtitles in English or French.

Extras Grade: D-

Final Comments

By genre law, a horror film about sexy nurses infected by aliens-in-heat demands more skin than we get here, especially with a couple of Playboy Playmates in the cast. Sure, there's some nudity, but not enough to detract from the outright pure dumb stuff that goes on in between, and for a horror title that's where the bare skin acts as some kind of quality buffer.

Close, yet so far.

Rich Rosell 2006-06-26