“I sell the dead!” – A Man Could Go Quite Mad (85 minutes, USA 2008)
“Never trust a corpse…”
Amongst the various genres, horror, and I suspect humor to a lesser extent, fans have quite an eclectic variety of interests, from zombie movies to vampires, slapstick to satire, but they are quite passionate about them, perhaps even… Picky.
So blending genres is always tricky, especially when dealing with a public who knows what it likes. Quite the balancing act.
The exceptions are rare enough to be noted and recommended, such as the Sam Raimi-Bruce Campbell “team”, Neil Gaiman-Dave McKean or the craftsmen behind “I sell the dead”. Larry Fessenden has been at it a long time, and knows film making in and out. He both produced and acted in “I sell the dead!”, Glenn McQuaid’s true directorial debut, even though “I sell the dead!” was developed from a previous, shorter effort, “the resurrection apprentice”.
Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) sits in a prison awaiting his execution after being convicted of grave robbing. There, he is visited by am Irish priest (Ron Perlman), who has a curious interest in criminals such as Blake and his partner Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden). In flashbacks, Blake describes his adventures from street urchin to businessman-corpse supplier in association with Grimes, against strong competition from the Murphy clan, a ghoulish collection of killers.
Along the way, increasingly horrific supernatural encounters seem to promise the rivals riches, but at a terrible price.
When dealing with a low budget genre movie made by hard working enthusiasts who know their craft and share real affection for film, as well as each other, the result is… Infectious. There usually are aspects to forgive given budget constraints, but not here: the decors, costumes, music and McQuaid’s script and direction all blend with and support the actors.
And what performers… Ron Perlman, Dom Monaghan, Fessbenden are of course excellent. But John Speredakos is devilishly creepy, as is Angus Scrimm , of course. Heather Robb and Brenda Cooney are remarkable, and James Godwin’s got to be seen to be believed.
The interplay between the two grave robbers Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) and Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden) make me wonder about Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins.
There is ambition which shows through, from producers Peter Phok and Fessenden, to McQuaid and this talented crew, but there is also experience: the film is consistently good to great without anything for the audience to ‘forgive’, as I stated earlier.
Watch it after Midnight, with a bottle of Scotch or Whisky. Then the next day, when you can’t remember how it ends, shave your eyeballs and watch it again.
“I sell the dead!” receives 4 jellybeans.