Genre: Horror Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.
Release Date: April 14th, 2007 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Dean Ronalds Actors: Darrell Hammond, Steve Burns, Judd Nelson, Dave Foley, Jason Mewes, Robert Wagner, Amy Davidson, Robyn Allen
wickedly funny comedy involving the redefining of vampires for integration into corporate America, “Netherbeast Incorporated” spins an alluring love story with biting humor and offbeat scripting. And it does so with limited resources and few bankable stars. Creatively scripted, this ultra-low-budget independent feature demonstrates how filmmakers can perceptively make an entertaining movie without having the typical, monstrous Hollywood budget.
The top man at Berm-Tech (Darrell Hammond) has contracted a disease, which causes him to begin losing his memory. This leads to significant problems when he hires a couple of new people to the extremely tightlipped company, which is run entirely by vampires who are keen on safeguarding their centuries-old secret. The first new employee, PD Landry (Judd Nelson), has come to manage the finances and productivity of the business, while the second, Pearl (Amy Davidson), quickly captures the heart of Otto Granberry (Steve Burns), the faithful vampire computer guru (and the picture’s narrator). As members of Berm-Tech suddenly begin to disappear, and Pearl begins to grow suspicious of the companies’ bloodsucking tendencies, Otto must resolve the conundrum, win the girl, and save the day.
A clever narration updates the audience on the impressively complex backstory of the Berm-Tech clan and, through animated sequences, illustrates how Netherbeasts differ from the classic, Bram Stoker conceptualization. The in-depth vampire analyzation and clarifications may actually be too intricate for the average moviegoer, but understanding director Dean Ronald’s interpretation of office vampires certainly pays off. The story is well-devised and detailed, with countless jokes and comedic situations arising from those newfound definitions for the creatures of the night.
Thanks to screenwriter Bruce Dellis, “Netherbeast Incorporated” is additionally fueled by hysterical phrases and terminology, from the inner-workings of testicular engineering to ventriloquist fetishism to the prominent mix of corporate lingo and vampirism. A quirky orchestral accompaniment and upbeat soundtrack, along with inventive cinematography, make this film quite an accomplishment for its relatively diminutive financing. Even though some of the shots betray a novice’s touch, and the lighting is a bit inadequate at times (lending to grainy sequences), the story is so arresting and the humor so amusing that it’s regularly difficult to notice that this isn’t a major studio release.
Though he’s far from a leading man, Darrell Hammond (of “Saturday Night Live” fame), who takes top billing, steals the show and every scene he’s in with his riotous facial expressions and seemingly ad-libbed dialogue. “Blue’s Clues” alumni Steve Burns, along with supporting characters Jason Mewes (best known for his collaborations with Kevin Smith), Robert Wagner (“The Pink Panther,” “The Towering Inferno”), and Dave Foley (“The Kids in the Hall”) also do an exemplary job in their roles. It’s always diverting to see a film that is able to so closely imitate a Hollywood production, without the wealth of connections and backing that tend to interfere with artistic visions. That lack of compromising is one of the main factors that makes independent cinema alluring. As a genuine highlight at the 2007 Phoenix Film Festival, “Netherbeast Incorporated” smartly blends a feel-good story with wildly perverse conversations, bizarrely funny flashbacks, witty narration, and an eccentric take on desk-job laboring and soul-crushing corporate structuring to become akin to “Office Space” – but with a supernatural twist.
– Mike Massie