I Sell the Dead
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It was a time of ghouls, ghosts and most ghastly of all, the fine art of grave robbing. Dominic Monaghan of LORD OF THE RINGS and LOST stars as 19th century corpse snatcher Arthur Blake, who pilfered the cemeteries and coffins of England until his capture by police. But just before Blake is to meet the hangman s noose, he will confess to a peculiar priest (Ron Perlman of HELLBOY and SONS OF ANARCHY) his gruesome tale of vampires, zombies and cadaver dealing that takes him from the savagery of the criminal underworld to the terrors of the undead. Producer Larry Fessenden (WENDIGO, THE LAST WINTER) and Angus Scrimm (PHANTASM) co-star in this deliriously grisly and hilarious homage to foggy graveyards, bloody mayhem and the golden age gothic horror.
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This is a spoiler so don't read further:
My favorite scene: they were on the beach and a zombie was in the "cage" and when Valentine took her mask off..........
The movie begins with the execution of one long-time grave robber, and the subsequent interrogation of his younger partner by a priest eager to hear the secrets these grave robbers might have to share. (The movie is set in some vague 17th - 19th century time, I would guess.) Thus, we are shown a series of little stories, as the grave robber first tells us how he joined the business, then how he mastered it, and at last, how he and his partner began to discover unusual things during their work (such as vampires, zombies and a few other surprises). Each of these little "short stories" is loosely tied together, and thus the movie feels a little bit like a linear story mixed with a horror anthology.
The movie was filmed on a very low budget and the special effects really hearken to a much earlier era. Fog machines were put to HEAVY use here, primarily to cover the cheesy sets and CGI backgrounds. The film is made with gusto and the right amount of over-acting. There is nothing subtle here. In fact, much of the editing and camera work reminded me of early Sam Raimi, with charging cameras and similar lighting. Character development is minimal and motivations are always sketchy at best. No attempt is made to explain why there are vampires, for example...they just are.
The star of the film is Dominic Monaghan ("Lost") as the younger grave robber. He works primarily alongside Larry Fessenden as his mentor. The two have a fairly easy chemistry, but a lot of their dialogue is repetitive and there are numerous scenes of the two of them at the local pub, discussing plans or upbraiding each other for wrongs. These scenes feel like padding in an already short (83 minutes) film. Ron Perlman ("Sons of Anarchy") is the inquisitive priest, and Angus Scrimm from PHANTASM makes a brief appearance. Otherwise, the cast is unremarkable and fairly amateurish.
This movie has a light-hearted, easy-going quality that is quite amiable. Everyone is having a good time. There are a few splashes of real humor, such as in the depiction of the zombies. But the movie is simply TOO easy-going, TOO amateurish and TOO lazily written to be truly enjoyable. I don't feel I wasted my time, exactly...but I was never deeply involved and even occasionally was checking my watch to see how much was left. I have no problem with low-budget production values (which the filmmakers did a good job of maximizing), and I can even tolerate mediocre supporting acting...but there is no excuse for lazy writing. A bit more attention to the work done BEFORE the cameras were even turned on might have turned this from "barely passable on a slow night" to "good, clean, harmless fun."