I Sell the Dead

I Sell the Dead is currently on instant Netflix and Amazon Prime.

I Sell the Dead (2008) – Not rated.

“As 19th-century grave robber Arthur Blake faces the guillotine, he confesses his sins to a priest, revealing a life filled with unearthly high jinks in this macabre comedy starring Dominic Monaghan as the doomed digger and Ron Perlman as the cleric.”

“Every Burke needs a little Hare.”

Glenn McQuaid not only writes, directs and edits I Sell the Dead but also wrote a graphic novel for Image Comics based on his screenplay. This is not terribly surprising as many of the film’s segues are told as comic panels. After working for Larry Fessenden on The Last Winter as title designer and visual effects supervisor, McQuaid cast director Fessenden as gravedigger Willy Grimes. Fessendon does a good job of playing second fiddle to our other gravedigger.

Dominic Monaghan finally gets a lead role as likable gravedigger Arthur Blake. The creepy Angus Scrimm, the Tall Man in all the Phantasm movies, plays the demanding Dr. Knox fill-in, Dr. Quint. Genre stalwart Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Outlander, The Last Winter) plays Father Duffy, sent to interview Blake before his execution.

The movie references are innumerable. The priest speaking to the condemned man to get his life story, setting up the movie to be told in flashback was used in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). Obviously the charming gravediggers harkens to the story of Burke & Hare which was told in The Body Snatcher (1945), The Flesh & The Fiends (1960), and Burke & Hare (1972 and 2010).

I Sell the Dead has a rather dry, dark sense of humor. This raises more smiles than chuckles but is quite enjoyable none the less. It starts off like Burke & Hare but then the enterprising gravediggers discover a body wreathed in garlic with a stake through her chest. That is just the beginning of surprises that I do not want to spoil.

People Watch: I Sell the Dead has numerous in-jokes and homages to classic horror films. As in Frankenstein (1931), “A good cast is worth repeating!” is shown before the end credits.