Netherworld isn’t quite a wildcard pick, but it’s close. I didn’t much care for the trailer, which featured a bunch of generic 90s gothic romance imagery and probably the world’s worst Marilyn Monroe impersonator. But hey, David Schmoeller made it so it can’t be that bad.
Corey Thornton (Michael Bendetti) has just inherited his father’s massive Louisiana estate. As he looks through his estranged patriarch’s things he finds a letter from the man telling him to bring him back from the dead. The means of resurrection is a local magic practitioner/prostitute named Delores (Denise Gentile), Corey falls under the woman’s spell as well as the spell of the world of black magic rituals practiced by people in the surrounding area as he prepares to fulfill his father’s dying wish.
I haven’t seen every movie David Schmoeller has directed but I feel confident in saying that this is his worst. Now, mind you, I’m not saying that Netherworld is awful. Netherworld is a treasure trove of haunting, beautiful scenery; frightening people; grotesque imagery; affecting music; and an eerie foreboding feeling that makes the movie feel dreamlike and dangerous. Unfortunately none of these parts quite come together to make the movie cohesive. Netherworld is a chore, even at less than 80 minutes long. It feels more like a series of vignettes than a narrative and when that narrative takes a predictable turn, it’s just tiring.
Remember how I said that whatever’s on the cover of a Full Moon film actually turns up in the movie? The lie has not been put to that statement yet, a good alternate title for Netherworld would be Scary Hand. There’s a clay hand (obviously just some guy’s hand painted to look like stone, sticking through a prop wall), the hand has a snake for a middle finger and causes all of the murders in this movie by flying at oddly compliant victims (even the balls in Phantasm had to work harder) and attaching to their face.
Oh and that Marilyn Monroe impersonator I mentioned above, even worse than I’d initially realized. Just awful.
Netherworld is still a good example of David Schmoeller’s directing talent, but it’s borderline nonsensical and fairly boring.
Watch, Toss, Or Buy? Watch
If You Liked This, Watch: Skeleton Key (2005), Puppetmaster (1989), From a Whisper to a Scream (1987), The Beast Within (1982), The Craft (1996), Phantasm (1979)