Miss Axelrod was an actress in the 1980s but late in that decade she transitioned to casting. She became a casting director in 1987 and acted off and on until the early 1990s. Nina hasn’t acted since 1991 when she starred in the third installment of the CRITTERS franchise, which she also served as casting director for the film. The lovely blond with a slight lisp that gives her characters a bit more allure, Nina never really had a breakout role but she is still known to cult horror fans for her work in the terrific slasher MOTEL HELL.
Nina first worked in television as her first role was a minor piece in the series THE HARDY BOYS/NANCY DREW MYSTERIES. In 1979 she had a more substantial role as Nikki in an episode of the wildly popular CHARLIE’S ANGELS. Her first feature role came in the terrible Linda Blair disco flick ROLLER BOOGIE. Her role was minor but the next year she landed what is clearly her most recognizable role when she signed on to play opposite Rory Calhoun in the cult classic MOTEL HELL.
A terrific horror film that plays for the drive-in crowd, MOTEL HELL stars Calhoun as a motel manager who sells smoked beef and jerky on the side. His slogan is “It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s fritters.” He laces his jerky with a little bit of human flesh, as people travel for miles to sample his terrific homecooking, unaware that lost transients are mixed with the pig, cow and whatever critter he can slaughter. Nina plays an injured motorist who throws a monkeywrench into his life when he falls for her. More than just the damsel in distress. Miss Axelrod gives a brilliant performance as Terry. She exudes a coquettish vulnerability that entrances Farmer Vincent. He allows his feelings for Terry to ruin his enterprise. Nina is at the top of her game in this film, playing the sweet, yet disturbingly attracted to much older men, damsel in distress.
After filming MOTEL HELL, Nina worked on the television series FANTASY ISLAND before landing another feature role in the boring sci-fi film TIME WALKER. Nina has little to do playing Susie Fuller, a college grad student who assists a professor who finds an unusual mummy. Not a bad film, it is essentially a time waster, and Miss Axelrod isn’t given much to work with. In 1983 she would have a small role in the film BRAINSTORM before landing a co-starring role in the thriller CROSS COUNTRY. She gives her most provocative performance as a topless dancer who hitches a ride with a murder suspect that creepy Michael Ironside is chasing down. The role of Lois the stripper allows Nina to showcase a wide array of talents since the character is mentally unstable and addicted to sex. Nina shows that she shouldn’t be typecast as the sweet, vulnerable babe she played in MOTEL HELL.
After CROSS COUNTRY, a quality performance, but, alas, didn’t open any doors for Nina, she worked in just two more films. She had a brief gig on the Stallone film COBRA in 1986 and then joined the ranks of men and women who work behind the camera in the film industry. In 1987 she worked as the casting director on such films as MAID TO ORDER and NIGHTFLYERS. She had the same occupation in 1991 when she casted the film CRITTERS III and she even slided her name into the role of Beth Briggs, her last on-screen performance.
ACTING ABILITY: 5.3