Plot: Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan), and Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden) are 18th century, English grave robbers. After being caught in the act, and sentenced to the guillotine, Blake tells his life story to a mysterious priest (Ron Perlman) - who may not be all he seems.
Review: I had high hopes for I SELL THE DEAD. As a life-long fan of gothic horror, this- a modern day updating of old time British Hammer horror films, seemed right up my alley.
Sure enough, I enjoyed I SELL THE DEAD, although it wasnít quite the home run I was hoping it would be. Itís certainly a well crafted yarn. First time writer-director, Glenn McQuaid has done wonders with the supposedly tiny budget afforded to the film. It really does recapture the feel of an old time Hammer horror film, and also harkens back to some of the classic Universal Creature feature chillers from the thirties and forties.
The cast is also perfect, with both Monaghan, and Fessenden (who also produced the film) making an extremely likable pair of protagonists- and they definitely have that buddy film chemistry so important to a film like this. It was also nice seeing Ron Perlman show up (this time sporting an intentionally campy Irish accent)- and genre favorite Angus Scrimm (of PHANTASM), also has a nifty cameo as a grave robbing doctor- who seemed like he walked out of an old Val Lewton film (if anyone reading this doesnít know Lewton is- RUN to the video store).
My only issue with the film is the uneven, anthology film style pacing. Some of the stories, such as a longish segment involving the young Blake stealing a corpse from a funeral home, fell a little flat. That said, the film really starts to take off about forty minutes in, when the chief antagonists, the dastardly Murphy gang, are finally revealed. The rest of the film is actually quite good, and I particularly enjoyed the zombie episode towards the end of the film, which puts a neat, comical spin on the undead. The guy they got to play the main zombie, who likes to nibble on our heroes, and is easily frightened, is great, and one of the most memorable examples of the undead Iíve seen since Bob in DAY OF THE DEAD.
While itís not the best film I saw at Fantasia this year, I SELL THE DEAD is nonetheless, an entertaining and creative horror comedy and an easy recommendation to any fan of Hammer horror, or old Universal/ RKO chillers. While it certainly wonít scare you, it will definitely make you laugh- intentionally.