Funny before scary but never before gore

I Sell the Dead

on August 07, 2009 by Tim Cogshell

Set in 18th century Britain, I Sell the Dead begins with the unceremonious beheading of Willie Grimes (indie staple Larry Fessenden, Wendy and Lucy ). But do not fret for he’ll be back. The movie, as told in a confessional tone by his friend and partner in crime, Arthur (Dominic Monaghan, Lord of the Rings ), evolves over a number of flashbacks during which we see the exploits of the protagonists while working as grave robbers, paying particular attention to the bits that got Willie relieved of his head. Mostly, this stylish, though low budget, horror movie is a comedy. It’s gory and tacky for sure, but mostly it’s funny, which is why it may make a few bucks at the box office before reaping its just rewards on DVD.

As he awaits the fate that befell Willie, Arthur tells the story of his grave robbing life to Father Duffy. Played by Ron Perlman ( Hellboy ), Father Duffy is a part just north of a cameo but it’s a role made for Perlman’s face. The story goes something like this: Arthur meets Willie as a young boy and starts robbing graves with him in order to get his mother out of the whoring business. (We told you it was tacky.) They sell the good bits off their stolen bodies to a nefarious doctor called Quint (Angus Scrimm), who conducts dubious “studies,” not all that unusual in the 18th century.


As sudden as they appear in that paragraph, vampires appear in this movie, which otherwise bears no sign of vampires. The vampires are not so much a clever plot twist as they are a surprise; they make about as much sense as Alex Trebek would if he appeared and began biting people. Of course, vampires seem to be everywhere of late, whether their presence makes any sense or not. That said, rationality is not the most notable horror movie convention, so why not vampires? Thus for fans of the gory, and those who like vampires in any context (absolutely any context), I Sell the Dead may be a bloody delight.

For everyone else, it’s just funny.

Distributor: IFC Films
Cast: Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Larry Fessenden, Angus Scrimm, John Speredakos and Eileen Colgan
Director/Screenwriters: Glenn McQuaid
Producers: Larry Fessenden
Genre: Comedy/Horror
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 85 min.
Release date: August 7 NY

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