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August 31, 2011

Movie Review: I Sell the Dead (2008)

IFC Films has been coming out with some very interesting genre pieces as of late and I Sell the Dead is not the least among them. Very slick, written and directed by Glenn McQuaid, I Sell the Dead is a fun little romp through 18th Century England. Dominic Monaghan (Lost, The Lord of the Rings), Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter, Wendigo, Habit), Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Alien 3) and Angus Scrimm (Phantasm 1-4) star in this period piece on a budget. More comedic than scary, I Sell the Dead appears to be a loving homage to the Hammer Film. I’m a huge Hammer Film fan and, therefore, I enjoyed it. It might not be up everyone’s alley, but I’ve learned that what I like is what I like… the rest of you can suffer.

Buy I Sell the Dead on Blu-Ray and DVD!

The story is the final, pre-guillotine confession of grave robber, Arthur Blake (Monaghan). He details his experiences robbing graves with Willie Grimes (Fessenden in a classic performance) including all of the supernatural elements that are out at night. Like I said earlier, the film is filled with comedic gore and slapstick elements as Grimes and Blake are accosted by demons, vampires and, most notably, zombies. During their adventures, the pair run afoul of The Murphy Gang, competitor grave robbers with a highly organized, violent and efficient mob. Blake and Grimes convince themselves to retrieve some shipwrecked bodies from an island, under the noses of the Murphy Gang, only find themselves in a predicament with the gang and a group of the undead. In all truthfulness, hilarity does ensue.

If you like your films a little harder edged, especially your horror, take a pass on I Sell the Dead. What McQuaid has put together here, though, is akin to mashing a Peter Cushing vehicle for Hammer Films together with Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. The set design and art direction are spot on and only add to the atmosphere. Monaghan, Scrimm and Perlman turn in fine performances, but the hero of this film is Larry Fessenden (who also produced). A veteran of some very thoughtful, and disturbing, horror films from the past twenty years, Fessenden gives the character of Willie Grimes just enough depth and remorse that the audience has to feel for the old corpse thief.

I Sell the Dead isn’t quite a masterpiece, though, there are some flaws in its structure and the nature of the piece does not lend itself well to mystery, but, flaws aside, I Sell the Dead is a well-made, enjoyable, and loving, take on the dirty business of corpse removal and commerce.

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