NetherBeast Incorporated DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Well Go Usa
Well guys…we're screwed. – Otto
Directed by Dean Ronalds
Written by Bruce Dellis
2007, Region 1, 93 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on January 6th, 2009
Darrell Hammond as Turner
Steve Burns as Otto
Dave Foley as Henry
Amy Davidson as Pearl
Jason Mewes as Waxy Dan
Robert Wagner as President James Garfield
Judd Nelson as Steven
One thing I constantly praise filmmakers of indie and low-budget movies for is originality. Well, okay, I yell at them for not trying more often than not. But, sometimes, they really deliver, as is the case with NetherBeast Incorporated.
Smartly written, NetherBeast follows the day-to-day operations of Berm-Tech Industries, a telecommunications company with a staff consisting of nothing but modern-day vampires. I say modern-day, because there are lot of myths about vampires in the NetherBeast universe: They don't have fangs, they can't fly, they have reflections and, above all, they aren't monsters. The bloodsuckers (or, rather, blooddrinkers) in this world get their power from something called Netherstone, and if they drift too far from it, they can die. NetherBeast covers Netherstone's importance — as well as many other important tidbits — through a series of well told exposition scenes where the audience is addressed directly. And this is coming from someone who detests piss poor exposition.
Things aren't right at Berm-Tech lately. The head honcho, Turner Claymore, (played by "Saturday Night Live" comedian Darrell Hammond with fantastic deadpan delivery), has come down with Retardations — the vampire version of Alzheimer's. Because of this disease, he has allowed two non-vampires onto the staff, a definite no-no. To make matters worse, vampires are disappearing, causing even more problems. And then Otto (Steve "Blues Clues" Burns) goes and starts getting feelings for one of the new hires, which can't possibly go anywhere due to him being a vampire and her not. Yeah, things are just one big mess.
NetherBeast has a damn good cast for an indie film. Aside from the aforementioned Hammond and Burns, there's Dave Foley (TV's "Kids in the Hall"), Robert "Hart to Hart" Wagner, Jason Mewes (pick a Kevin Smith movie), Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club) and Amy Davidson (TV's "8 Simple Rules"). Now, granted, Mewes and Wagner might as well be cameos and Foley is completely under-used, but each character, cameo or not, utilized or not, delivers something golden to the film that otherwise wouldn't be there with less capable talent.
This is the type of movie that will get better on multiple viewings. NetherBeast doesn't rely on in-your-face jokes, telling you when to laugh. There's subtlety, and you won't catch everything on the first go around, or even the second. Hell, it's worth a watch for Hammond's performance alone (and, admittedly, I was never a fan of his work on "Saturday Night Live") or Davidson's character, Pearl, explaining to Otto why ventriloquists have groupies.
NetherBeast isn't a perfect movie. For all of the good, there are times it drags a bit, a joke goes on too long, or the characters are a bit too odd (the only "normal" characters are Otto and Pearl). However, even with the minor flaws, NetherBeast is quirky, quotable and memorable, and completely worth a spin.
Video and Audio:
Well Go Usa delivers a strong 16:9 presentation with NetherBeast. Colors are natural, the picture is crisp and there are no noticeable flaws.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack gets it done. The movie is mostly dialog driven, so there is really no need for a super mix. Music and effects never overtook the voices, and I never had to reach for the remote to adjust.
Dolby Digital 2.0 is also offered.
- The Original Short, The Netherbeast of Berm-Tech Industries, Inc.
- Audio Commentary by Director/Producer (Dean Ronalds), Producer/Co-Star (Brian Ronalds), Writer (Bruce Dellis)
- Behind the NetherRegions Featurettes
- Interviews with The Ronalds Brothers
- NetherPhoto Gallery
Finally Well Go Usa gives me something to work with. The past few DVDs I reviewed from them (ZA: Zombies Anonymous, Beneath the Surface and Death of a Ghost Hunter) were severely lacking in features, but they don't disappoint here.
My favorite feature by far is the short, The Netherbeast of Berm-Tech Industries, Inc. I dig watching the origins of a film, and the 8-minute short is really nothing more than part of the opening of the movie (performed by different actors). It's interesting to see both how little changed between the short done three years prior and the cut in the movie and the birth of an idea to its final product.
The commentary was a slight disappointment, if only because there wasn't more talking. The three involved (the Ronalds brothers and Bruce Dellis) are an amiable bunch, often pointing out things going on in the background of the film that the viewer may have missed, rather than just "so and so was so great to work with" (blah!). However, there were quite a few dead spots and the commentary suffered somewhat because of them.
There are eight featurettes ranging from the first day of shooting to the last, with the option of being played as one big clump coming in at just under 27 minutes. Much of it is fluff (as generally expected), but there are some nuggets of comedy sprinkled throughout, so it's not a bust.
The interviews aren't interviews in the traditional sense, but a piece done on the film by the local news station where the brothers were filming. Director Dean Ronalds gets most of the attention, as his brother, Brian, is participating via webcast on the TV behind Dean. Apparently Brian was in Mexico.
Throw in the photogallery and trailer and you have a nice little package of features. I hope Well Go USA continues down this path for us greedy consumers.
(Equipment includes a Mitsubishi WS-48613 48” HDTV, OPPO DV-970HD DVD player and Onkyo HTS-770 Home Theater System and, in some cases, a Sony 27” WEGA TV and a Sony DVP-NS50P DVD player.)
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