Attractively mounted by Full Moon Entertainment, NETHERWORLD is a film of modest ambitions, but successful within its own limited parameters.
Corey Thornton (Michael Bendetti) receives a surprising legacy from his late, estranged father: a mansion in the Louisiana swamps, luxurious, beautiful and immensely valuable. But there are mysteries to be solved, foremost among them why Thornton senior left such riches to the son he abandoned.
Corey is also haunted by dreams and hallucinatory visions of the gravely beautiful Delores (Denise Gentile), who worked at the raucous brothel that operates just down the river from the Thornton plantation and who seems to have had something to do with his father's death.
Corey promptly falls in love with Dianne Palmer (Holly Floria), whose mother (Anjanette Comer) oversees the Thornton property. Dianne warns him to have nothing to do with the brothel, but he's inexorably drawn there. Its basement holds secrets, strange creatures and succubi, and Corey slowly
realizes that his father was deeply involved with black magic and hopes to return from the dead. Almost too late, Corey learns that his father's plan is to inhabit his body, and consign his soul to the netherworld. In a dream, Corey meets his father and the two fight it out. Corey triumphs, and
returns to the land of the living; his father's soul is trapped in the body of a parrot, like those of many other unfortunates who came under Delores's spell.
Released direct-to-video, NETHERWORLD gets off to a surprisingly good start in the brothel of the damned: a belligerent, drunken client goes wandering where he shouldn't and comes upon an underground passageway whose inhabitants promise sensual pleasures tinged with danger. Needless to say, things
go badly for him: as he has his way with the beckoning Delores, a disembodied hand detaches itself from some far-off wall and claws his face off. If the rest of the film kept up with the opening, it would be a small gem, but it quickly settles into long-winded exposition and the machinations of a
conventional suspense story--what is the secret of the Thornton plantation, how did Thornton senior die, what does Mrs. Palmer know and why isn't she telling? It's all more than a little dull.
The film's high production values are a plus, and director David Schmoeller (CRAWLSPACE) keeps the action moving as quickly as the attenuated story allows. Though it would certainly have been a disappointment in theaters, NETHERWORLD plays fairly well on the small screen. For an audience whose
expectations aren't too high, it's a diverting hour-and-a-half of supernatural entertainment. (Violence, sexual situations.)
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