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I Sell the Dead

A movie released August 14, 2009

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Like Burke and Hare--But With a Twist

  • Apr 8, 2010
I have to admit that lately I've been plagued by feelings of jealousy because I should have been the one who turned everybody on to flix like YO, etc. I mean it's right there in my screen name fer christsake--QUEENBFLIX--HELLO!! I've spent countless hours wading through crap most people wouldn't watch without protective eye-gear in the hopes of unearthing an obscure gem, and yet others stumble over flix that by all rights should be mine--do you hear me? MINE!!!  (sound of throat being cleared)  Anyhow, I think I finally latched onto a flick that no one else has seen, and of course there's already a review of it. In fact I'd READ that review which is how the film came to be on my NetFlix list in the first place!   What a memory. So I decided that It would be okay  because not many other people have read the review,  I'll just pretend it doesn't exist. Then I noticed that Trashie wrote a mini-review of it!   And Cenobite put it on one of his lists. Shit. Why do I bother? Am I the last person to hear about this flick or what?  On the off-hand chance that there is someone else on Lunch hasn't seen I SELL THE DEAD yet, I will proceed.

The trouble is that I don't want to ruin any of the joy of discovery for you guys like the other review did. In fact I actually scrapped 2 titles because I felt they gave away too much, so how to proceed is a bit of a problem. I SELL THE DEAD is a period piece and it begins with the execution of a man via guillotine and then whisks us off to a dank prison cell where cleric Francis Duffy (Ron Perlman with the worst Irish brogues every recorded on film) questions Arthur Blake who is to be executed himself in 5 hours.  It seems Blake (Dominic Monaghan) and his partner Willie Grimes (Larry Fesseden) were grave robbers--but that's not the crime for which they are bring punished. They were convicted of murder. Blake insists that someone has framed them by leaving a very obvious trail of severed body parts leading right to their respective doorsteps, a point that became mute for Willie since he was the man executed at the film's beginning. The story unfolds in flashbacks as Blake tells Duffy how as a young boy he first became involved with Grimes and of their demanding arrangement with Dr. Quint (Angus Scrimm) who presses them for more and more corpses, pays them nothing, and threatens them with discovery if they don't comply.  One night they find themselves digging up a most unusual corpse that's been buried far from town and outside the graveyard.  That one corpse not only solves their problem with Dr. Quint it opens up a whole new world for them,  and for the viewer. This is where things start to get wonderfully strange! 

 But the tales the cleric is most interested in however are those related to a rival gang of grave robbers called the House of Murphy, a ruthless bunch led by Cornelius Murphy. To illustrate how nasty Cornelius is Blake tells a story in flashback about how Cornelius's mother gave him a mechanical toy--a wind-up bird in a cage that fluttered it's wings and sang. The boy loved it  and sat on the floor watching it for hours. His father stomped on it with his boot. His mother gave him a little chick which the boy loved dearly and played with on the floor and his father stomped on it with his boot. His mother gave him a white bunny-- well, let's just say that Cornelius was a couple of steps ahead of Dad on this one. 

There's a lot more to the story of course, and that's the part you're going to have to see for yourselves because I'm not going to tell you. Some say that the plot was never going anywhere but I don't think that's true at all. It just went there somewhat circuitously.  Audiences are lazy and are accustomed to having everything laid out for them in a nice neat pattern; beginning, middle, end. We seem to demand an obvious conflict at the beginning followed by an obvious resolution at the end. What I think writer/director Glenn McQuaid has down is given us a clever, witty, inventive story that in it's own totally impossible way is a little more like real life--it wanders around and then suddenly the protagonist finds out there's been a conflict. Surprise. (Actually we ARE tipped off about it the coming conflict in advance when Blake insists he and Grimes were framed, because they were. In other words, the film IS going somewhere it's just doing it in a rather subtle manner.)  But no matter what you think of the plotline I can almost guarantee that you are going to have some fun with this film provided you enjoy the British sense of humor and don't suffer from ADD because it does have somewhat of a leisurely pace about it for the first act. The acting (aside from Perlman's accent) is excellent, with Monaghan turning in an especially good performance as Blake. The writing and direction are top notch and the cinematography won a well deserved award at SLAMDANCE. Surprisingly there's very little in the way of violence of actual bloodshed but there's a ton of entertainment value for anyone who's looking for something they haven't seen a thousand times before.

HYPE VALUE: non-existent,  it deserves an audience
Like Burke and Hare--But With a Twist Like Burke and Hare--But With a Twist Like Burke and Hare--But With a Twist Like Burke and Hare--But With a Twist Like Burke and Hare--But With a Twist Like Burke and Hare--But With a Twist Like Burke and Hare--But With a Twist

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April 26, 2011
You've done us all a great service in going through films most of us wouldn't watch for the sake of introducing us to the gems that hide in the midst of all the you know what. And no, you're not the last person, I think I am but, this flick sounds like a goodie. By the way, where've you been? I hope that life is treating you well!
April 15, 2010
You have brought my attention to plenty a flick so don't worry about it, like this for example. Excellent review Queen of the B
April 15, 2010
Gee, thanks for going through so many of my reviews. I really appreciate it. So many people won't even bother to read your reviews no matter how many of theirs you may comment upon. Some people just ain't got no manners, know what I mean?
April 15, 2010
I will be going back and reading all of them so be prepared for a lot of comments, I can't help but read them. I will be back later to read more.
April 15, 2010
I'm about due for a lunch break from Lunch then I need to go shopping--just about out of cat litter, which can have some dire consequences.
April 09, 2010
Wow, ths looks really good. Based on your description, it's grisly and dark, but not overly bloody and violent. Ron Perlman is keeping busy lately. I just saw a preview for a medieval horror film with him and Nic Cage in it that actually looked like it had some potential. As for Monaghan, he's really impressed me with his range as an actor. He can go from being a cute, mischeivous hobbit, to a geeky musician, to a serial killer believably.
April 09, 2010
I like Monaghan too. But it's hard for me to imagine anything with Nic Cage in it that I would want to see. He's racking up an impressive number of bombs.
April 09, 2010
Between this film, which I forget the title of, and a few others, I think he's trying to make a comeback. We'll see if it works. "Kick-ass" looks promising.
April 09, 2010
Ah, I remembered the title of the Nic Cage / Ron Perlman film. It's called Season of the Witch. It reminds me a lot the subplot in "The Seventh Seal", with the knights escorting the demented girl, who's been accused of witchcraft, to a designated area where she's to be burned at the stake.
April 09, 2010
Oh I think I've seen the preview for that.
April 11, 2010
What did you think? My link above will take you to the trailer if you haven't seen it...
April 11, 2010
Oh I've seen the preview alright. I didn't remember it at first but now I'm certain. I remember how he seemed to have an awful lot more hair than he does in real life.
April 11, 2010
The magic of Hollywood wigs. Sean Connery has learned about that. He's been wearing a hairpiece since "Dr. No".
April 11, 2010
April 08, 2010
Ceno brought this up in one of his lists and I am glad that you finally got the time to see this horror flick! I need to add this to my ever-growing list, great review!
April 08, 2010
Yeah. I mentioned that in the review. What a pisser. I thought I had a new one and everybody's been there before me!
More I Sell the Dead reviews
review by . August 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     I didn't like "I Sell the Dead" when I first saw it. I didn't like how it felt and I didn't find it all that funny. But that was then (early 2010) and this is now (mid-2011). I've changed and become more accepting and tolerable. So I was willing to give this indie effort another chance at impressing me; now that I'm more acquainted with this genre and all. I still don't think that the film is made for everyone, but for those it is made for; it's somewhat of …
review by . October 22, 2009
I Sell the Dead
Never trust a corpse, advises Dominic Monaghan. Words to live and die by.      As Arthur Lake sits in jail, awaiting execution, he's visited by Father Duffy who asks him to recount his life as a body snatcher. Lake obliges the priest and tells the story of how, when he was just a boy, he entered into the employ of Willie Grimes who dug up corpses for Dr. Quint. Their trade brought them to all manner of unfriendly and lonely places, and one night while unearthing a body at a crossroads, …
Quick Tip by . May 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Unlike any movie about graverobbers you've ever seen. I can almost guarantee that.
About the reviewer
karen ()
Ranked #17
I am the poster child for inertia. Where ever I am is where I plan to stay FOREVER.   So much so in fact that it took me decades to understand the punchline about why   the chicken … more
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About this movie



Genre: Horror, Comedy
Release Date: August 14, 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 1hr 25min

First to Review

"Never Trust A Corpse"
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