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Netherbeast Incorporated provides a new perspective on vampires in film: the vampire workplace comedy. While not technically vampires the characters do feed on humans and are at least practically immortal, and humans can turn into the “Netherfolk.” There are a set number of ways that they can be destroyed, though, which are acted upon by senile CEO/family leader Darrel Hammond, afflicted with an Alzheimer’s-like disease of their people.

This is where the story begins, with the staff trying to determine what to do about him. He can’t be fired and the only solution appears to be killing him. Like most workplaces, though, no one wants to be the one to make a decision. Though they have kept their secret for centuries, and their phone-producing company, Berm-Tech, off of the public trade, the employees suddenly have to deal with humans in their midst, including pushy efficiency expert Judd Nelson and cute new temp Amy Davidson. She throws a whole new wrench in the works for star Steve Burns, formerly of Blues Clues, when she asks him out for a drink.

The plot from here is part workplace comedy and part espionage mystery story. It makes for an interesting and largely successful blend. The most interesting aspects of the story are its historical placements, revolving around Alexander Graham Bell (for obvious reasons) and President James Garfield (Robert Wagner!) and the details surrounding his assassination. It all ties very well into the overall history of the Netherfolk as the writers have clearly thought out in great detail. It’s commendable to see that kind of thought put into the details of a small movie like this, which feels like a labor of love.

The cast has a warm, television familiarity thanks to SNL’s Hammond and the great Dave Foley (NewsRadio, Kids in the Hall), as well as Kevin Smith regular Jason Mewes, who I can still never see as anything but Jay of Jay and Silent Bob infamy. Nelson provides a fine antagonist in his lurking headsman, and Davidson fills the role of tempting outsider to Burns’ nebbish every-Netherfolk quite well. She feels like a girl on whom you could have an office crush. Robert Wagner turns in an admirable performance as President Garfield as well, and is as welcome a presence as his turn in the Austin Powers films.

While I wouldn’t necessarily call Netherbeast Incorporated a great film, I will say it is enjoyable. I always find small scale oddities like this so, with their freedom to explore their ideas, and this film is particularly devoted to these explorations. 3 ½ stars


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