Written and directed by: David Schmoeller
Produced by: Thomas Bradford and Charles Band
Reviewed by: Brett H.
It’s becoming harder to believe now, but in the 1990s, Full Moon Pictures was able to churn out some very respectable direct to video movies. The mere mention of these three words generally sends shivers up the spine of any horror fan, but Full Moon was different. While most companies were throwing the genre out to the street like the week’s trash, Full Moon was doing all they could to get their films out there and getting a pretty respectable following in doing so. The company name screams horror and the logo was always a sight for sore eyes and it showed they were proud of the genre. There was a fair share of terrible Full Moon movies, but back then for every bad one there was a watchable film to be had, or even perhaps one that could be classified as good. You just never knew what you were going to get.
Corey Thornton (Michael Bendetti) never knew his father. He never stuck around long after he was born and never made any attempt at contact for years until his death. Corey makes the journey to Louisiana where he is about to inherit an estate that he could have only dreamed of before. But, this is a horror film and there’s always a catch. His father’s lawyer, Beauregard Yates greets him with some papers to look over and a book left to him by his father. In the book, Corey’s father explains to him that he knows a woman named Delores (Denise Gentile) who knows the secret of bringing the dead back to life. The pages plead with Corey to do what the woman tells him when he should find her and to do what is necessary to bring him back to the world of the living.
Upon Corey’s arrival, he is also met by one of the cutest things you’ll ever see, Diane (Holly Floria), who is very attracted to him. She shows him around the estate and warns him never to go to the place just outside the edge of his land, the place his father had died. That place is a brothel named Tonk’s. Needless to say the powers spoken of in the book remain too tempting to resist and he begins seeing Delores and goes to Tonk’s to pay her a little visit, which involves her showing him a pretty good time, something described in detail by his father in the book Corey had been left. Black magic is the way to bring Corey’s father back, mostly involving the transferring of souls between birds and humans. It can be used for good, to transfer a bad human being into the body of a bird. Of course, the meaning of a bad human being is misconstrued most of the time, which leads to more than a few questionable uses of this black art.
The first such instance regards Diane’s mother as she tries to kill Corey because she feels he’s going to do some naughty things to her more than willing daughter. Delores appears to save him and it becomes apparent that she is using her magic for the purposes of good rather than evil. Corey decides to go through with the act of bringing his father back, but after he leaves his body and enters the road that lies between Heaven and Hell to go and find him, things don’t exactly go as planned.
Netherworld is actually a pretty good movie. It borrows a lot from other horror films, but does so in such a manner that it is enjoyable and entertaining. The flying hand in the film is basically one of the Tall Man’s spheres, there’s a crazy dude ala Ralph from Friday the 13th and the beating bird hearts used in the rituals seems straight out of Hellraiser. The use of a brothel is very significant in the film and is used in a similar way that a house of prostitution was used in Bordello of Blood, which didn’t come out until four years later. The main difference is rather than vampire prostitutes, the women putting out in Netherworld are good rather than evil. At the same time, you wonder just why Corey is willing to go to hell and back for the father who never gave a shit about him in the first place when he could be kicking back, basking in the riches (not to mention the lovely Diane) he has inherited. He doesn’t exactly appear to be the kind of guy to run around dabbling in the black arts.
Though some ideas are basically variations on scenes from famous horror films, Netherworld is very much its own film. It quite often keeps you guessing before the surprise ending, all the while having that certain charm that every good Full Moon movie has (as well as films that date back to the Empire days). The effects are good and although the blood doesn’t flow frequently, it certainly flows well when it does make an appearance. There’s nothing deep about the film, it is a popcorn flick at heart, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that. The acting is believable and there’s a fair amount of suspense and some genuinely creepy scenes. The movie moves at good pace and you are never sitting the bored. The female anatomy is no stranger to the screen either, and I’d like to thank Charles Band and David Schmoeller from the bottom of my heart for that.
The music in the film is surprisingly top notch as well, as it features original music from David Bryan of Bon Jovi fame and Edgar Winter. At the time, music of this calibre was new to Full Moon and you notice it right off the bat. It really helps the movie out and makes it very pleasant to sit through, it’s no secret a good score can make or break a movie. The DVD is like pretty much every other Full Moon disc, you get a million trailers for other features along with a couple biographies and the true treasure, VideoZone, which is basically a 25 minute behind the scenes documentary. Standard on Full Moon releases for years now, this one is particularly informative and features interviews from nearly everyone involved in the movie from David Bryan to Charles Band to John Carl Buechler. All of this for well under $10. Full Moon delivers us to evil and Netherworld is definitely worth crossing over for. Buy it!
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