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It's good business, Gordon. The patients eat the rats and then the rats eat the patients!
~ Nurse Edith Mortley to Gordon Mortley.

Nurse Edith Mortley (R.N.) is the eponymous main antagonist of the two 1980s "Death Nurse" films. She and her brother Gordon Mortley run the Shady Palms Clinic, but are actually con-artists who murder the patients and continue billing the state for their maintenance.

She was portrayed by Priscilla Alden, who also portrayed Ethel Janowski.


Death Nurse

From their suburban home, Doctor Gordon Mortley and his sister Nurse Edith run Shady Palms Clinic, a facility that takes in physically or mentally ill indigents sent to them by the county. In reality, the Mortleys are con artists who euthanize their patients and continue billing the state for their care. The only actual resident of the clinic is an alcoholic named Louise Kagel, who Gordon supplies with alcohol in exchange for sex. One day, a new social services worker named Faith Chandler drops a new patient, John Davis, a man afflicted with tuberculosis. Edith kills John via asphyxiation, and Gordon buries his body. When Faith asks to check in on him, he digs it up and puppeteers the body to create the illusion he is still alive. Faith brings another patient, Charles Bedowski, who has a heart condition, to Shady Palms.

After Faith's visit, Edith and Gordon kill Bedowski while attempting to replace his heart with a dead dog's; during the procedure, the dog's heart is grabbed by the Mortley's pet cat, forcing the duo to humorously chase the feline, and deem the transplant a failure. Bedowski's remains are buried by Gordon, and Edith feeds pieces of him to the rats that live in the garage. The infestation of vermin does not go unnoticed by the authorities, and when Mr. Smith, an environmental health officer, threatens to shut the clinic down, Edith stabs him to death.

Faith herself checks into Shady Palms, and grows suspicious of the facility, which causes Edith to knife her, after feeding the woman rats she had cooked her for lunch. Louise witnesses Faith's murder, so Edith kills her with a syringe, despite Gordon's fondness for her. Edith has Gordon place the bodies of Smith, Faith, and Louise in the garage, from which their smell attracts the attention of a police lieutenant who had stopped by to visit Charles Bedowski. Observing from a window as the lieutenant opens the garage and discovers what is inside it, a dejected Edith sits on a sofa with Gordon, and the film ends.

Death Nurse 2

Picking up where the last film ended, Death Nurse 2 opens with Lieutenant Cal Bedowski demanding to be let into to Shady Palms Clinic, due to having just discovered human remains in the facility's garage. Nurse Edith Mortley opens the door, stabs the lieutenant, and has her brother, Doctor Gordon Mortley, place the man's body in the garage. Edith then explains that disposing of corpses in the garage is the perfect system, as they will be eaten by the rats that infest it, and the rats will then be killed and fed to unknowing patients of the Mortleys.

At city hall, social services worker John Sawyer is pressured by Sergeant David Gallagher into finding somewhere that will take in Brownie, a violent and alcoholic vagrant who has been harassing local merchants. John picks up Brownie (using liquor to pacify her) and drops her off at Shady Palms. When Edith tries to confiscate Brownie's belongings, the woman attacks her, so Edith stabs her. The seemingly dead Brownie is dumped in the garage, but she recovers, and knifes Gordon (leaving him confined to a bed for the rest of the film) before being finished off with a cleaver by Edith. Edith treats Gordon's wounds, and while she does so, it is revealed that Gordon is just a veterinarian, and that Edith was kicked out of nursing school.

Sawyer sweet talks Edith into admitting another deranged vagrant into Shady Palms, a Polish immigrant named Mischa Rudinski. Shortly after Mischa arrives, Shady Palms is visited by Charity Chandler, twin sister of Sawyer's predecessor Faith Chandler, who was murdered by Edith. After Charity, who is looking into the disappearance of her sister, leaves, Edith murders Mischa, having grown tired of listening to his incessant anti-socialist rants.

Suspicious of Shady Palms, Charity seeks aid from Sergeant Gallagher, but he is of no help, simply telling Charity that he may question Edith if Faith does not reappear in a day or two. Taking matters into her own hands, Charity sneaks into Shady Palms, and is stabbed to death by Edith after finding the bodies in the garage. Immediately after Edith kills Charity, she receives a call from Sergeant Gallagher, who makes an appointment to speak to her about Faith. Edith tries to cover-up the smell of her and Gordon's victims with lime, but this backfires when the rats that were feeding on the bodies are driven out into the street by the substance, dragging pieces of human flesh with them. This prompts Sergeant Gallagher to get a warrant to scour Shady Palms. When Gallagher appears with the warrant, Edith slumps on a couch, and wordlessly sulks as Gordon calls to her from his room.


  • John Davis
  • Mr. Smith
  • Faith Chandler
  • Louise Kagel
  • Lieutenant Cal Bedowski
  • Brownie
  • Mischa Rudinski
  • Charity Chandler


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