Monday, January 16, 2012

#518. I Sell The Dead (2008)

Directed By: Glenn McQuaid

Starring: Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Larry Fessenden

Tag line: "Never Trust A Corpse"

Trivia:  A graphic novel of the film has been released, with Glenn McQuaid writing and illustrations by Brahm Revel

It's not a particularly good time to be a grave robber. Willy Grimes (Larry Fessenden), a man who has dedicated most of his life to snatching corpses, just had his head lopped off for his troubles, and Willy's longtime partner, Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan), is sitting in a jail cell, awaiting his own date with the executioner. 

The night before he's to be put to death, Arthur is visited by Father Duffy (Ron Perlman), who asks Arthur to recount for him his days as a grave robber. It turns out poor Arthjur has plenty to say about his experiences with the dead, but it's his few unforgettable run-ins with the not-entirely dead that made his "job" a harrowing one. 

In fact, Arthur tells Father Murphy that pilfering graves has taught him one very important lesson: you should never trust a corpse!

Written and directed by Glenn McQuaid, I Sell The Dead is a horror / comedy that succeeds on a number of levels. First off, it's a very convincing period piece, perfectly capturing the look and feel of 19th century England. The performances are also top-notch. Dominic Monaghan does a fine job as the occasionally naive Arthur, and Ron Perlman's thick Irish brogue is a definite highlight. The film's best turn, however, is delivered by Larry Fessenden. His Willy Grimes may be a slime ball, but at least he' a likable one, and even though you're never quite sure whether or not you can trust old Willy, his prowess as a thief gets him and Arthur out of more than one sticky situation. 

Yet as good as the performances and the set design are, its the individual scenes of Arthur and Willy doing what they do best - stealing corpses - that make I Sell The Dead such an entertaining ride. Late one night, the two are digging up a grave that, for some unknown reason, is situated just outside the cemetery. When the two finally pull the coffin out of the ground, they find the body of a beautiful woman inside, who was buried with a string of garlic around her neck and a stake through her heart. Figuring that their benefactor, Dr. Quint (the always interesting Angus Scrimm), wouldn't pay much for a corpse in that condition, Arthur and Willy remove the garlic and the stake. As they're preparing the cart to haul her away, the woman rises out of the coffin and wanders off, leading to what is easily the film's most frightening - as well as its funniest - scene. 

With vampires, zombies, and one or two surprises thrown in for good measure, I Sell The Dead is a fun, stylish look at a “profession” that was obviously not for the faint of heart!

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