Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Larry Fessenden, Angus Scrimm
Written and directed by Glenn McQuaid
Distributed by IFC Films
So, it’s a fairly simple equation. What do you get when you take the great Hammer films of yesteryear, add in even more of an EC Comics flavor, dab on a tiny bit of Creepshow, and hire an incredible cast to bring it all to life? Four words — I Sell the Dead, the latest feature film to hit home video from IFC.
Before we start singing the flick’s praises, of which there are many, let’s bang out a quick plot synopsis for the uninitiated. Larry Fessenden (channeling an amazing Jack Nicholson-like amount of craziness) and Dominic Monaghan are two Victorian-era grave robbers who make their living the old fashioned way — by digging it out of the dirt and plundering as many caskets and crypts as they can. Unfortunately for our somewhat nefarious duo the trail of corpses leads right back to their front doors, and they are both condemned to death. There’s just one problem — death isn’t what it used to be! In fact, these buggers, from zombies to vampires to ummm … you’ll see, prove to be quite lively despite the no doubt painful rigor mortis.
I Sell the Dead‘s plot(s) unfolds via Monaghan’s character, who finds himself with only a priest (Ron Perlman) as company on his last night before facing the gallows. His various yarns detailing how exactly he got into said predicament will have you both shrieking and laughing equally as loud. There are a few bumps along the way in the form of some minor pacing issues, but otherwise this is one of the single most enjoyable, fun, dark, demented, and pitch perfect horror comedies to come around in quite some time.
The DVD and the Blu-ray releases share the exact same bits of supplemental material, but if you have the tech, I simply cannot recommend enough nailing this flick down on Blu-ray. While its standard def cousin looks and sounds pretty damned good itself, in full 1080p and with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that’s home to Jeff Grace’s appropriately over-the-top score, this world just comes to life. You’re gonna love it!
In terms of the supplemental features things kick off with two commentary tracks, one with actors Dominic Monaghan and Larry Fessenden and the other with writer/director Glenn McQuaid. McQuaid’s is, as expected, a bit more on the technical side, but if that’s not your bag, then Monaghan and Fessenden’s will have you laughing your asses off. Either one cannot miss.
What does miss its mark a bit, though, is the over an hour long making-of. While there are a few interesting bits here and there including cast and crew interviews, it’s mostly comprised of random b-roll someone was shooting on the set. You’ll be really challenged to watch this without hitting fast forward. After that we get a much better featurette on the film’s various visual effects that clocks in at around thirteen or so minutes. Add on the trailer and a really cool comic book adaptation, and we are finished. Overall this is a fairly solid haul.
Mark my words! Keep your eye on director Glenn McQuaid (and read our recent interview with him here). This guy has some serious chops and, should he continue within our beloved genre, is going to go very far! Also, I don’t know about you, but once I saw director Larry Fessenden acting in front of the camera, I found myself hoping that he stays there a bit more. He owns the screen every second that he’s on it. Really good stuff.
If you’re looking for a break from the endless barrage of remakes, the multitude of torture porn flicks, and the non-stop crop of graphic novel adaptations, I Sell the Dead is a fine reminder of just how good an original movie can be when some heart and soul are thrown in with the severed limbs and lovingly splattered blood!
4 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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