In the hours before his execution by guillotine, 18th Century body snatcher Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) is visited by Father Duffy (Ron Perlman) who wishes to hear the tales of Blake's long and grisly career in the grave-robbing trade. His story begins with Blake meeting Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden), who introduced him to the profession. As his beheading grows closer by the minute, he goes on to detail their dealings with a shady physician, Dr. Vernon Quint (Angus Scrimm), a dangerous rival gang of grave-robbers known as the House of Murphy, an overzealous apprentice, Fanny Bryers (Brenda Cooney) and all manner of the undead.
Fantastic! Simply put, Glenn McQuaid's I Sell The Dead is fantastic. The film is both well written and well performed, warmly evoking the Hammer classics of long ago. Packing more than a mere sentimental punch, it ventures in several different directions, never once ceasing to surprise. When the audience can't see the twists coming - the filmmaker has done his or her job.
If you're familiar with their work, you could very well expect Monaghan and Fessenden to carry the film marvelously and they do. Hands down, they've earned my vote for most endearing grave-robbing duo in film history. But as enjoyable as those two are, the supporting cast is, as the end credits note, very much worth repeating. Joel Garland as the bartender, Eileen Colgan as Maisey O'Connell, John Speredakos as Cornelius Murphy and Ron Perlman as Father Duffy each bring something special to their scenes. It's as sensational a supporting cast as anyone could ask for.
And what of our tall friend, Angus Scrimm? As the conniving Dr. Quint who so often blackmails Blake and Grimes into digging up more corpses, Scrimm is doing here what he does ever so magnificently, playing sinister with delicious panache. His scenes occur near the beginning and as usual, you're going to be left wanting only more of a good thing. While supporting appearances by heavyweights Scrimm and Perlman lend I Sell The Dead genre credibility, it succeeds largely because of its own merits. This is just plain good storytelling at work.
As far as production values go, I Sell The Dead earns top marks from this viewer. Making fantastic use of montage, animation and oodles of fog - McQuaid develops a distinct style for Dead that seems like a perfect fit for the material. For evidence of this unique style, you need look no further than any of the film's posters or trailer. They practically ooze it.
In conclusion, if you're tired with recent trends in the genre, Tommy Hilfiger teens getting tortured with gore ad naseum, you definitely want to have a look at I Sell The Dead. Both original and well-made, it should please not only fans of Tall Man Angus Scrimm and the horror genre, but any viewer who enjoys a good movie.