Now available on DVD, Blu-Ray
Dominic Monaghan as Arthur
Directed by Glenn McQuaid
An exuberantly demented and spirited romp, I Sell The Dead is a somewhat retro horror/comedy that is eager to please and difficult to resist. It hardly reinvents the wheel, but it isnât trying to. This is 80 minutes (minus credits) of guilt-free entertainment that gets a whole lot of mileage out of its two amiable leads.
After Willie (Larry Fessenden) finds himself on the business end of a guillotine, Arthur (Dominic Monaghan) tells a morbidly curious Father Duffy (Ron Perlman) all about their profession. Flashing back many years, he recounts how he joined Willie in the body snatching business in order to help out his poor family and explains exactly how it is he came to be accused of murder.
Grave robbing is a thankless profession. In addition to dealing with cops looking for bribes and families seeking revenge, Arthur and Willie worked for a nasty doctor named Quint (Angus Scrimm). Constantly screaming at them to find more fresh bodies, Quint added stiffing them to the verbal abuse and threats to turn them in.
One night, the hapless duo encountered something that would drastically change their work: a horrifying and undead creature. Believing that these ghouls held the key to immortality, doctors were willing to pay top dollar for them.
Though Arthur freely admits that he and Willie are guilty of many crimes, he insists murder is not one of them. He has no idea how the police followed a trail of body parts to his residence, parts belonging to a rival gang known as the House of Murphy.
The storytelling here is predictable and rudimentary. It will take you all of five minutes to figure out who Duffy really is, and other beats like a falling out and a girl transpire as expected. It also appears to have been shot on the cheap and the visual effects are lacking (though the physical effects are quite good).
However, the giddy goofiness is downright infectious, rendering any shortcomings in the screenplay meaningless. More often than not writer/director Glenn McQuaid goes for laughs, and most of the time he succeeds. We are treated to gallows humor and various oddities including an alien, a man with dog teeth, overly friendly zombies, and a one-legged ghoul.
Monaghan and Fessenden make a great team. They have an easygoing rapport and actually seem like men who have been working together for many years. Perlman and Scrimm, inevitably, chew the scenery but as always are fun to watch. If you are going to have actors ham it up, at least get good ones. John Speredakos is appropriately grim and evil as Cornelius Murphy, rounding out a very capable cast.
Exaggerated without ever going too far over the top, I Sell The Dead is a charmer. It will be interesting to see what McQuaid can do with a budget. He definitely has the chops.