Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

As this Horror-Comedy ‘I Sell the Dead’ opens we first meet the character of Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden) who has been tried and convicted of murder and has been dispatched to the galley’s to deal with  the executioner and his troublesome guillotine. So much for Willie Grimes. However Willie’s partner in crime Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) isn’t slated for his execution for this crime until the morning, so while he waits he gets a visit from a curious priest, Father Duffy (Ron Perlman), who wants to know the how and the why’s of Arthur’s chosen trade of grave robbing, so in between a bottle of spirits and proclaiming his innocence of the crime of which he has been accused, our movie can now begin.

So Arthur tells Father Duffy in great detail how he got his start in the grave robbing business as a child, guided by his mentor, and eventual best friend Willie Grimes. Willie had originally planned to kill the boy and cart his carcass off to the evil Dr. Quint, but having a big old heart of tarnished silver he chose not to do this thing and instead took the boy on as a protégé of sorts. Grave robber probably isn’t the correct terminology since they don’t necessarily steal from the corpse, but steal the corpse itself so that this doctor can perform his ‘experiments’ as it were. Unfortunately for Arthur and Willie this doctor stiffs them out of them proper wages, for lack of a better word, threatening to turn them in to the proper authorities if they stop doing his bidding, yet still forcing them to do his bidding. He’s an asshole.

Then one day our heroes stumble upon a corpse outside of the graveyard wearing a garlic necklace with a stake in her heart. We should note that the time of this film is well before the advent of television so our heroes haven’t seen any vampire flicks or zombie movies because none of us would remove the garlic or pull out that stake, now would we? Arthur explains to us that by doing this they have graduated from simple grave robbers to becoming ‘ghouls’ which pays much better by the way, and life is good. The problem with this situation is that the ghoul trade is ruled by the Murphy family who takes ghouling deadly serious and our heroes recognize this and stay the hell out of their way whenever possible.

A particularly potentially lucrative ghoul situation has come up however and while Arthur and Willie are wary of the Murphy’s attachment to this gig, Arthur’s girlfriend Fanny (Brenda Cooney) has roped them into taking the bull by the horns and not being sissies about the whole thing. Not surprisingly it doesn’t go well… for anybody, and that includes the Murphy gang which has led to Arthur being where he is now and Willie finding his head and his neck are no longer attached… but not so fast my friends…

Sigh… I had heard a lot of really good things about this movie ‘I Sell the Dead’ written and directed by Glenn McQuaid, reputable sources at that so if these cats said they liked the movie then they really like this movie. Damn if I can’t roll with them on this one this time. The problem I had with this ‘horror / comedy’ is that I found the horror almost completely absent and the comedy practically non-existent. While watching this film I could see where it was supposed to be funny but the comedy, at least for me, just wasn’t working all that well.

Just to clarify a thing or two ‘I Sell the Dead’ isn’t a terrible movie, not even close, as there were a lot of things to like about this movie. The look, sound, set design and the gothic feel of this movie were on point. One can’t say that the story wasn’t original, that’s for sure, though the movie did introduce a bit of a twist for us which in all honesty would’ve only been a twist if they ended up not doing it. Plus the performance by the cast, particularly Dominic Monaghan as Arthur were just fine and while having a good looking, nice sounding, well designed and solidly acted movie is much appreciated, if a movie lists itself as a horror comedy and the viewer found it neither all that horrible or comical… well… whaddayagonnado?

We’re going to move on is what we are going to do. I am of the personal opinion that Glenn McQuaid has a definite talent for this filmmaking thing, maybe a more traditional horror film next time will do the trick. But that’s just my opinion because like I said, a lot of other folks far more knowledgeable than me on these subjects had a much greater appreciation for ‘I Sell the Dead’.

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