Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reel Thoughts Interview: Work Sucks

And you thought your job bites, sucks and drains the life out of you?! As seen in Netherbeast Incorporated, the folks at Berm-Tech Industries (a shadowy telecom company located in downtown Phoenix) wouldn’t have it any other way. Unfortunately, change is a-comin', heralded by company president Turner Claymore (SNL’s Darrell Hammond) plunging a wooden stake into company suck-up Mike. Mild-mannered Otto Granberry (Steve Burns from Blue’s Clues) is called into the big guy’s office and asked to handle things, but he’s understandably distracted by Mike’s lifeless body. “Mike was a vampire,” Claymore explains, leading to one of the most unusual, funky and offbeat comedies you’ll see all year.

The opening scene is almost an exact recreation of Dean and Brian Ronalds’ hilarious short film, The Netherbeast of Berm-Tech Industries, Inc., which skewers corporate management and bureaucracy. It turns out that the folks at Berm-Tech are a tight-knit “family” with a bloody secret that’s about to be exposed. Hammond and Burns join Dave Foley (Kids in the Hall), Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club), Jason Mewes (Clerks), Amy Davidson (8 Simple Rules) and Robert Wagner (Hart to Hart) as President James Garfield in the daft, deftly written and produced comedy.

Phoenix's local luminaries Robyn Allen and Laura Durant also play featured roles, but Bruce Dellis’ script and the Ronalds Brothers’ twisted sense of humor are the real stars of the film. Funny riffs abound, as does bloody cartoon gore, but Netherbeast Incorporated steers clear of the X-rated humor and language that’s such a routine part of Judd Apatow’s comedies.

It’s not a seamless film, and the ending does get a little too convoluted for its own good, but Netherbeast Incorporated is a hundred times smarter and funnier than any of the Epic-Superhero-Disaster-Meet the Spartans movies. Any film that has a character exclaim: “For the love of Laura Keene!” (the actress/manager who invited Abraham Lincoln to Ford’s Theatre) definitely has my heart!

I had the chance to grill the Ronalds Brothers (in a nice white wine sauce) and they revealed what spawned their undead comedy.

NC: What a wild film! What draws you to such original ideas like vampires in corporate America and dead leprechauns and the like?
Brian and Dean: Bruce Dellis' wacky mind penned up both Little Victim and Netherbeast, the short and feature. We tend to really like the out of the ordinary. Our favorite movies are Murder by Death, Clue, Private Eyes, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Court Jester, to name a few. We were raised on these pictures, so the dark and unusual humor suits us very well.

NC: I loved the way you used downtown Phoenix as a setting. How is filming in Arizona?
Brian and Dean: We love shooting in Arizona. The people here are so inviting and encouraging. The heat is obviously an issue but there are ways around that. Like not shooting in the summer!!! (We shot our last two features in the summer!! D’oh!)

NC: You've worked with Robert Wagner, Lori Singer and other stars before. How was it going pretty much all-star for Netherbeast?
Brian and Dean: Having an all-star cast was a dream came true. There was a time when we had Darrell Hammond, Judd Nelson, Steve Burns, Dave Foley, Jason Mewes all in a scene together and we looked at each other and we both knew what the other was feeling. We were in heaven! And as the great Hannibal Smith from A-Team would say, "I love it when a plan comes together!" We concurred!

NC: Robyn Allen, among other local Phoenix favorites, had a really good role and definitely held her own with Dave Foley and Darrell Hammond. Do you plan to keep using local talent and filming in Arizona?
Brian and Dean: We for sure have our favorites and will continue using the amazing talent that Arizona has to offer. We cast the stars, and then fill in the rest with special people like Laura Durant, Bob Rue, Robyn Allen, John Schile, Cathy Rankin and of course the good Dr. Kevin Berman! But we have to have the stars! Helps on sale-ability. You'll notice even Brian got bumped from his role he played in the short by Steve from Blues Clues in the feature.

NC: What is your favorite part of Netherbeast Incorporated, on-screen and off?
Brian and Dean: On-screen: We love the part where Darrell Hammond and Steve Burns push Dead Mike into the furnace. Not only was it a funny scene, it was a difficult shot we got in two, and it was in the final hours of the day, so we had no time and no choice but to get it! We had a great time off-screen with all the cast and crew. It was a pretty light-hearted set.

NC: What can Movie Dearest readers expect from the Ronalds Brothers in the future?
Brian and Dean: We just produced and co-starred in Brian Pulido's The Graves, starring Tony Todd (Candyman), Bill Moseley (House of a 1000 Corpses), Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Lamb of God's front man D. Randall Blythe and newcomers Clare Grant (Valerie Under the Stairs) and Jillian Murray (Fun Park). It is super creepy and will be sure to scare the crap out of you! We're also producing and directing our next picture, Pet Rock. Pet Rock is written by the same writer as Netherbeast, Bruce Dellis. It's about dead family pets and corporate rock n’ roll!

NC: Last question — I have to ask! Who'se idea was Brian's semi-nude scene? Was that a ploy to get the Sex and the City crowd in to see the movie?
Brian and Dean: So here's the deal: The semi-nude scene was written for the character Waxy Dan. Waxy Dan was played by Jason Mewes, who agreed to do the role except … that's right, he wouldn't reveal his ass. So instead of finding another talent to commit to the task, in a pinch, Brian took one for the team, and Bruce re-wrote the scene with Dow instead of Waxy.

For more information on Netherbeast Incorporated (now in theaters) and to watch the original short film and trailer, visit the movie's official website.

UPDATE: Netherbeast Incorporated is now available on DVDfrom

Review and interview by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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