Ronalds Brothers Productions
Playing at the Harkins Valley Art theatre in Tempe for one week only starting tonight, Friday Sept. 12, 2008.
Rating 4 out of 5 stars
This fun satire gives us a look behind the closed doors of Berm-Tech Industries, a phone manufacturing corporation based in Arizona. What we find is an office of eclectic characters who are all "netherfolk", which should not be confused with "vampires". These netherfolk just want to live in peace, even though they admit they are dead and do need to eat human flesh and drink blood. No worries though because they have connections so they are always well-stocked.
The story revolves around the manager, Turner Claymore, played wonderfully deadpan by SNL alum Darrell Hammond, who comes down with a form of netherfolk Alzheimers, known as the Retardations. This tragic disease causes him to forget that he and his fellow workers are all netherfolk. The movie starts with him staking co-worker Mike, when he "discovered" he was a vampire. Later he brings in a corporate productivity analyst, played by Judd Nelson, and also hires a human named Pearl, played by Phoenix-native hottie Amy Davidson, to take over Mike's position.
The movie is told from the point of view of Otto Granberry, played by Steve Burns -- yes Steve of Blues Clues fame. I laughed when I caught a glimpse of the signature blue paw-print on his desk in one scene. I may have to watch it again to see if these were anywhere else. He and Pearl start a small office romance, which was full of awkward innocent goofiness.
The plot, like the blood, thickens when other employees go missing as does the source of their unnatural power, the Netherstone. I won't try to explain this one. Not that it might spoil the plot, and not that it reeks of a Deus Ex Machina. It is a creative plot device and I'll just sound like I have the Retardations if I try to explain it. Speaking of exposition, there is a lot of it in the movie since the netherfolk are not really vampires. I thought it was fun and familiar, like the interjections of Douglas Adams' Hitch-hiker's Guide to The Galaxy, or like a typical corporate Powerpoint presentation.
This clever comedy never stoops to camp nor shock to get laughs. There are some heavy-handed one-liners scattered throughout the film. Oh, and scrotum-engineering jokes. There's very little gore, and what is there is cartoonish in its subtlety. If I have any complaints it is that Dave Foley is underutilized as Henry, and Jason Mewes (snoogans!) is relegated almost to a cameo role as "Waxy" Dan Paraffin. The real cameo by Robert Wagner as President James Garfield is cute and ties everything up in a nice little bow.
All in all this is a refreshing look at the vampires of corporate America. It makes me even more proud to know the producers, Dean and Brian Ronalds, are local brothers who filmed the whole movie in and around Phoenix. At the Q&A that followed the showing, they announced that the DVD will be released Dec. 9, 2008, and I will definitely pick this one up.