BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • May 14th, 2010 •

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FATHER DUFFY: “A corpse, is a corpse, is a corpse.”

ARTHUR: “Father, if I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that you never, ever trust a corpse.”

Never has a truer declaration been uttered by one of the many characters that inhabit the squalid setting of I SELL THE DEAD. Every backdrop the action and dialogue revolve around seem to be muck covered graveyards or desolate pubs that serve ale in sullied steins. More to the point, the dead don’t stay so dead in this amusing tribute to the classic films of Britain’s Hammer Studios.

I SELL THE DEAD is Dublin-born director Glenn McQuaid’s debut full-length feature, which was based off his thirteen minute short film THE RERSURRECTION APPRENTICE shot in 2005. It encompassed a similar premise together with much of the actors used in I SELL THE DEAD, including filmmaker Larry Fessenden who reprises his valuable role of Willie Grimes. Glenn McQuaid got his hands dirty in the world of film by creating CGI effects for movies like THE ROOST and Fessenden’s THE LAST WINTER. A long time friendship between Fessenden and McQuaid has been growing ever since. The two had known about the I SELL THE DEAD story for several years before they both could commit to it and bring it to life for the public. The movie has also turned out to be production companies Glass Eye Pix and Scareflix’s costliest film to date and the money was put beyond well use. The production values are astounding. The combined talents of the director, cast, art and wardrobe departments all deserve recognition and will leave a lasting impression on any viewer of this DVD; horror fan or not. Director McQuaid is a true talent to keep a lookout for and I’m impatiently waiting for his next project to hit the streets. Not only are there elements of horror, gore and explorations of the supernatural, there are infinite scenes of genuine humor that will truly having you chuckling. I also enjoyed the quick frame inserts of artwork reminiscent of the classic EC comics.

Larry Fessenden’s directorial efforts always produce great looking films, but the resolution to his movies have always let me down, excluding the brilliant SKIN AND BONES he provided for the NBC television show FEAR ITSELF. Having said that, the guy can act. He’s superb in front of the camera with his portrayal of Willie and I look forward to catching him in more leading roles and less supporting or uncredited cameos. His performance alone is a major reason to purchase the DVD, along with the production crew’s efforts. I can see potential for the character of Willie becoming a fan-favorite for the horror genre. His dim-witted and sleazy demeanor plays off nicely against Monaghan’s slightly straighter character. Within the world McQuaid has created, the situations Arthur and Willie could find themselves getting in and out of are virtually endless. Thus, I recognize a possibility for a successful film franchise.

I SELL THE DEAD is a daring and rare type of film. It’s a period piece. It’s a horror film. It’s a buddy film. It’s a scathing laugh-out-loud comedy about people who steal corpses.

When we first meet unhygienic alcoholic Willie Grimes he is on the verge of being beheaded via the Guillotine. Arthur Blake, Willie’s partner and best friend, is incarcerated in a dungeon and unleashes lengthy confessions of his grave robbing crimes to Father Duffy. Arthur and Willie had been providing corpses to the unscrupulous Biologist, Dr. Vernon Quint. When digging up a corpse for Quint they discover the body is wearing a necklace made of garlic, along with a wooden stake through its heart. When they remove both items they astonishingly discover it’s a vampire. They deliver the vampire’s corpse to Quint and when he removes the stake in its heart it kills him. Willie and Arthur are now free from Dr. Quint’s extortion attempts to get them to rob graves, but they decide to continue digging up the undead because the money is good. This leads to a conflict with The House Of Murphy Gang who have cornered the undead market for years. Their leader, Cornelius Murphy, snorts ground-up human skeletons and once strangled and devoured his pet rabbit just to spite his father. Word gets to all characters involved that there are three undeads stranded on an island not far away. The price on their heads is astronomical, and a violent quest begins to claim the bounty.

The true winning aspect of this feature is Glenn McQuaid’s seemingly flawless script. His ability to combine comedy with horror without letting either of the two genres overtake his story made the film fun from the first to the last frame. My favorite characteristic of the movie is the friendship between Willie and Arthur. These two truly do deserve each other and their banter is some of the wittiest I’ve heard in a horror film in years. It must be noted that this movie was mostly shot between New York’s Staten and Long Islands, yet had a remarkably believable 18th century setting. When considering this, along with the final budget McQuaid, Fessenden and Phok had to work with, I feel it speaks volumes for the talent involved. They have managed to make a modern day metropolis full of known landscapes and landmarks practically unrecognizable.

As of writing this, Scareflix Productions is planning a sequel for 2011. Myself, I’m impatiently counting down the days until I can see what McQuaid has planned for furthering the adventures of the two grave-robbing leads.

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