I SELL THE DEAD
Reviewed by: Ryan Doom
and Ron Perlman
What's it about
A grave robber stuck in prison recounts his days as a grave robber (kinda obvious what his profession is, huh) to a priest, starting from being a young boy to a full grown man and all the whacky misadventures in-between.
Is it good movie?
This is the kinda flick I look forward to watching. On the surface, it appears demented, dark, disturbing, comical, gothic, and a little kooky. Thereís something about old school gothic England where thick fog rolls around every corner, and people sport top hats and cockney accents, and the general tone of the whole thing emits a vibe. You know that vibe, from movies like From Hell, Sleepy Hollow, Dracula, and Frankenstein; that kinda vibe. So when I received the very gothic sounding I Sell the Dead DVD, I immediately judged it by its cover. I hoped that it would hit upon all of those elements of gothic that make the genre so damn entertaining.
And believe or not it did, even if thereís something lacking. Perhaps itís the overall tone, which borders more on comedy than the horror. Nothing ever really feels at stake, nothing feels ominous. But let me stop right there, because any fan of those previously mentioned films will dig I Sell the Dead. As long as they bring a slight sense of humor.
To begin, everything about this movie feels like an issue of EC Comics, which isnít too difficult to ascertain considering the DVD comes with a mini-graphic novel thatís very much in the spirit of EC. Even the tone of the film attempts to recapture Tales from the Crypt or Creepshow. However, what I Sell the Dead lacks is a hint of seriousness running throughout, the feeling that something truly hellacious could occur at any moment. The tone provided here never allows the viewer to take the characters seriously, preventing any care as to whether they lived or died. Hell, they are grave robbers after all. They kinda deserve death. And speaking of tone, I really dig the music here, which is light and near circus-like, but it never really changes which only aides in the prevention of taking the movie more seriously than we should. Anyway, I digress.
The best elements of the flick come from the cast, namely Dominic Monaghan, Larry Fessenden, Angus Scrimm and Ron Perlman. Each really shines in their respective roles and they all seem to have a hellva lot of fun. Monaghan and Fessenden work perfectly together as the apprentice and master in the thieving body business. Theyíre both idiots, but that really doesnít matter. Despite their jobs, the two actually care for one another even as each new job nearly kills them. Scrimm and Perlman both have small roles, but donít let that persuade you into thinking theyíre throwaways. Scrimm always hops off the screen when given the right role. And Perlman, well, what can you say about the guy. In the last decade or so, heís emerged as one of the prominent genre actors out there. Itís time this guy gets more national recognition than he does. Heís much more than Beauty and the Beast or Hellboy.
Lastly, I want to commend writer/director Glenn McQuaid. This couldnít have been an easy movie to get made, and letís face it. This isnít the type of film that gets made. Itís nice to see something different from the standard female lead with a bad guy chasing her. Hereís to looking forward to seeing what McQuaid comes up with in the future. This movie isnít perfect, but itís damn fun.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen presentation and looks really great.
Audio: Presented with the power of Dolby Digital Surround.
Making of I Sell the Dead Featurette is a full one and four minutes worth of behind the scenes glances at the entire production, from the props, to the location, to the actors, to interviews with the entire cast and crew. Pretty interesting and fully in-depth look at a small, independent flick.
I Sell the Dead: The Visual Effects does exactly what youíd expect it to do by interviewing the men behind the scenes and how they create the pretty cool effects. Have to like the 3D story boards. Runs about 14 minutes.
Commentary One includes writer/director Glenn McQuaid as he explains how he made a low budget gothic/horror/comedy in NYC. Heís a first time director, and heís quite a likeable guy. Good and insightful track.
Commentary Two includes actors Dominic Monaghan and Larry Fessenden. A couple of likable chaps in a funny track. (They talk a lot and crack jokes.)
I Sell the Dead Graphic Novel. Itís a comic book. Except you need to call it a graphic novel. Itís the right thing to do.
It takes a little while to get moving, but by the time I Sell the Dead wraps up, things truly do turn bizarre. I seem to keep including lists in this review, but really, how many other movies include dead aliens, corpses, headless talking bodies, vampires, evil monks, and zombie mutants. Not many. So there you go. Check this puppy out. Go on, get.