11/10/09

Netherworld (1992)- I Wish It Has Been Called Never-See-It-World

When you put in a DVD and the Full Moon Pictures logo comes up, you generally know what you’re going to get. Sure, occasionally there’s a Puppet Master or Trancers, but just as often, you end up wondering why you’re watching Evil Bong II or Mandroid. Now I’m not saying their movies are all bad, but their track record is not astoundingly brilliant. Still, I was cruising the virtual racks of Netflix and came across David Schmoeller’s 1992 film Netherworld, and I decided to give it a shot even with the Full Moon label on it. After all Schmoeller had made two of my favorite Full Moon flicks with the aforementioned Puppet Master and the Kinski in lipstick classic Crawlspace. I also have a soft spot for films set in Louisiana as long time readers will know. So I put it in the queue, I moved it to the top, and I awaited the red envelope with a strange mixture of high expectations and dread. At least I had one of those emotions was right.

Netherworld is the story of Corey Thornton (Michael Bendetti), a typical early nineties guy with a typical half mullet full of L.A. Looks gel. When his father dies, he inherits dear old dad’s massive home located in the backwaters of the Louisiana countryside. From the moment he arrives and is greeted by lawyer Beauregard Yates Esq. (Robert Burr) who is dressed in a powder blue suit paired with black leather fingerless gloves, Corey starts to get a strange feeling. Arriving at the house after meeting the caretaker and her jailbait daughter, Corey receives his father’s diary from the lawyer. When he sits down to read it, he discovers that his father had become obsessed with a prostitute named Delores (Denise Gentile) who has the power to bring people back to life and works at the nearby bar, Tonk’s. The elder Thornton wants to bring himself back after his own death with her powers. Corey quickly becomes obsessed with Delores, and he goes straight to Tonk’s. There he meets a variety of oddball characters, and even though people are being murdered by a mysterious flying stone hand and people all but tell him, Corey doesn’t seem to get the drift that the whorehouse is actually a front for a coven of witches.

The script for Netherworld was written by Schmoeller and Charles Band, head honcho of Full Moon, and it just could not have made less sense. At different points at the film I debated if this movie was supposed to be horror, a tongue in cheek comedy, or intentionally terrible. In the end, I never could decide. It’s hard for me to believe that Schmoeller, who has done some great things, and Band, whose has had his share of good ideas, would have intentionally put together a film in such a slapdash way. This is the kind of film that makes Plan 9 look like Citizen Kane. Netherworld started strong, and its first 10 minutes intrigued me. The big haired prostitute Delores was being raped and the flying stone hand kills the crap out of the rapist. Sure, the effects were bad, but it was atmospheric and pretty effective. The problem is that the rest of the film didn’t have the same tone at all. There was a good idea here, but somewhere between either the idea stage and the page or the translation from page to screen something went horribly wrong.

The acting really was not helping matters. Michael Bendetti is best known for his year run on 21 Jump Street as Officer Mac McCann, but unlike his Jump Street co-star Johnny Depp, Bendetti left the show to do Netherworld and a couple episodes of Red shoe Diaries before fading into obscurity. There’s nothing in Netherworld that is going to send anyone into fervor for a comeback. Bendetti seems to have two expressions, confused and “huh, is the camera on?” and neither impresses. I wish I had more to say about Mr. Bendetti, but he really leaves very little mark on the film, but I bet that with all that gel in his hair he leaves quite a mark on his pillow.

The rest of the cast fares little better. As the large haired mystical hooker Delores, Denise Gentile definitely looked the part, and she is probably the best actor in the film. Not that that’s something you would want to brag about. Twenty six year old Holly Floria who plays the caretaker’s “jailbait” daughter was terrible casting to say the least, but at least she was not terrible. Floria even ended up with a job after Netherworld when she landed a role on the syndicated TV show Acapulco H.E.A.T. The few other characters that seemed interesting at all didn’t get enough screen time to make a difference. Robert Burr’s lawyer with the deformed hands and strange fashion sense, I wanted more of him. George Kelly as town drunk/ psycho Bijou, I wanted a whole film about that nutter. I would have even settled for more time with Billy C., the bottle-twirling bartender played by director Schmoeller.

Just a couple more things, and they're more questions than comments. How can you have a movie about witchcraft wielding hookers that contains no nudity? Also, if you're going to have a woman playing a prostitute who claims to be Marilyn Monroe brought back to life, can't you hire someone who doesn't have a face like a foot? I'm just saying. Netherworld is bad. Not the worst film I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely going to get a solid ‘1’. Unless you have a desire to work yourself though all the Full Moon releases, this is one you never need to watch. I would seriously recommend Evil Bong II and Mandroid before I would this one. So enter at your own risk. You may not end up in the Netherworld, but you will wish that you had spent the last 90 minutes in some other dimension.

Bugg Rating

8 comments:

  1. Hi - I understand the movie is B-A-D, but I collect New Orleans movies. Does it appear that any of the movie was actually filmed in New Orleans??? Thanks for any info!

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  2. Ha ha - this is exactly the sort of thing I would "blind buy" on a whim. Thanks for the warning, although I'm not sure it will do any good. I myself may get sucked into 'the netherworld' some day...

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  3. Mr. Specs, While the movie is set in the same state as the Crescent City all the action is confined to Corey's house or the bar Tonk's. They never go to NOLA or establish where in Louisiana they are. So sadly there is no NOLA here.

    J. Astro, I suppose this was kind of a blond rent for me, but if I had seen this somewhere I would have got sucked into the Netherworld just the same from the poster art (and I presume the DVD/Tape cover) as well.

    Thanks for the comments fellas.

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  4. Wanna hear something weird (and now, sad)? For whatever reason, I had bumped this to #2 just a few days earlier and now it's due in the mailbox tomorrow. Curses!

    Also, according to the rules of porn names, mine would be Holly Nevada. That somehow seems relevant.

    And wow, that's one ugly foot! Nice (and tragic) review.

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  5. Wanna hear something weird (and now, sad)? For whatever reason, I had bumped this to #2 just a few days earlier and now it's due in the mailbox tomorrow. Curses!

    Also, according to the rules of porn names, mine would be Holly Nevada. That somehow seems relevant.

    And wow, that's one ugly foot! Nice (and tragic) review.

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  6. I remember that cover art quite well and seeing it brought a smile to my face, though I never saw the film, I really don’t need to now after reading your review! I love me some Full Moon action, but they are certainly a mixed bag of crap that can sometimes be pretty fun.

    I haven’t seen a Full Moon film in a years and have been wanting to catch up on some of the ones I haven’t seen, but I may save Netherworld for when there is no more Full Moon left to be viewed. Great post title, by the way!

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  7. I accidentally watched this one years ago, the cover always looked sweet and deceiving, as is the case with most of the later Full Moon flicks, but man even one bugg is generous =D

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  8. Damnit! It arrived in the mail yesterday.

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