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I SELL THE DEAD fills the Hammer horror void for Capone!!!

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here. When I was contacted recently by IFC Films about a film they had coming out in limited release last weekend and on IFC On Demand today, I was skeptical. My brain still functions in a way that tells me that anything that doesn't make it to theaters or something that premieres On Demand or straight to DVD usually isn't worth checking out. But my theory has been proven wrong enough times in the past few years to know that's simply not the case. There are just too many movies being made in the world for theaters to keep up, and many excellent movies that may only get a few screenings on the festival circuit are now getting a real chance at being seen thanks to a distribution model like the one IFC has been offering for years. So instead of assuming that a screener of a film like I SELL THE DEAD is going to be third-rate junk, I find myself more often than not pleasantly surprised by the quality of these smaller works and the caliber of acting talent that lands up in many of these films. I SELL THE DEAD is a devious piece of icky fun from former visual effects supervisor Glenn McQuaid, making his debut here as writer-director. It's the first film in recent memory at least that has taken a really detailed look at the practice of Victorian-age grave robbing. The film opens with the decapitation (always a good sign) of one such robber, Willie Grimes (played by HABIT and WENDIGO star Larry Fessenden), who is being executed for supposedly murdering someone during the commission of a robbery. Grimes' young partner, Arthur Blake (LORD OF THE RINGS and "Lost’s" Dominic Monaghan), is still in jail, soon to be visited by a man of the cloth, Father Duffy (Ron Perlman, you know, HELLBOY). After a few swigs of whisky, Arthur begins to tell his tale of being a young lad being taught the grave-robbing ropes by Grimes, including their discovery that occasionally they'd dig up members of the undead, namely zombie and vampires, corpses of which were actually worth more to certain doctor conducting unseemly medical experiments, especially one Dr. Vernon Quint (PHANTASM's Angus Scrimm, and yes, it is very interesting that the nastiest character in the film has both Vern and Quint in his name). I SELL THE DEAD relishes in its squishy, vile details of corpse robbing. Young Arthur is forced to shovel recently dug graves, break open the cheap wooden caskets, and reach into the coffins to tie a rope around the corpse so it can be yanked out of its earthly home. Grimes and his apprentice get involved in a bit of a turf war with other robbers, they are threatened in various ways by Dr. Quint who needs more corpses at an alarming rate, and eventually events turn to the point where it pits robber against undead against rival in a bizarre showdown on a small, freaky island. You can't watch this movie and not be transported back to the pure joy of watching the Gothic Hammer Films horror movies for the first time. There's a cheeseball element to the whole production, from the forced accents to the low-budget look of the whole production, but director McQuaid doesn't call attention to the film's financial shortcomings by shining the irony spotlight on his low-budge accomplishment or by allowing his actors to ham it up to the point of parody; he's genuinely making the best movie he knows how to make. There's a level of fun, spirit, and energy to the entire work that is infectious, and I got so caught up in wondering where the hell this insane movie was going that I didn't care about the sub-par effects or the schlocky nature of the whole production. The film is meant to be a "throw-caution-to-the-wind" romp. My only complaint is that I wish it had gone more gory and ridiculous at times. Still, I SELL THE DEAD makes for a pleasantly unexpected way for any self-respecting horror fan to spend an evening. Consider me curious to see what McQuaid comes up with next. As I mentioned, the film premieres on IFC On Demand beginning today, and I think it's well worth checking out.
-- Capone Follow Me On Twitter

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 12, 2009, 9:38 a.m. CST


    by Dirty_Pirate

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 9:39 a.m. CST

    First for the first time

    by Dirty_Pirate

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 9:39 a.m. CST

    Second for the first time

    by Dirty_Pirate

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 9:40 a.m. CST

    I've been third before

    by Dirty_Pirate

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 9:44 a.m. CST

    My Vote For Movie Poster Of The Year!

    by maliswan

    Really. It's cool.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 9:52 a.m. CST

    Thoes movies that go straight to DVD

    by Dirty_Pirate

    They are mostly cheesed out, but if you can make it past the bad acting and the props strings. They usually have a good story behind it. Its like watching the 1970's Star Track. Looks like crap now, but the story and adventures they went on are unforgetable.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 9:55 a.m. CST

    um, director's name is Glenn McQuaid

    by Jarek

    ......non McQueen.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 10:02 a.m. CST

    What has this got to do with District 9?

    by The Handsome 12th Doctor

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for watching a good shlocky horror. Especially one starring Ron Perlman and Angus Scrimm.<p>But don't we visit this site just to hear about District 9? And the people going to see District 9. Please stop interrupting the stories about District 9 with news of other cool films that we'd want to see.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 10:14 a.m. CST

    District 9 can suck my District 2 nutz

    by a_terradactyl

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 10:19 a.m. CST

    Saw the trailer...

    by Gunslinger1919

    ..and am looking forward to this. It really does look like a good take-in and follows in the tradition of Hammer....lots o fun. --G

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 10:19 a.m. CST

    The whole film was done on one of thoes cameras

    by a_terradactyl

    that they stick in your pee hole to find spiny fish or micro machines.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 10:27 a.m. CST

    I don't know

    by Series7

    I know Ron Pearlman has rarely done me wrong, but his last two Driect to VHS films Mutant Chronicles and The Devils Tomb were not the poop's scoop. While Mutant actually got a little better in the second half and was at least interesting just boring for some reason, the Devils Tomb was fucking god awful on all accounts. Hopefully this is more like Outlander and fucking awesome like that movie was.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 10:28 a.m. CST

    a_terradactyl's camera comment...

    by DerLanghaarige maybe the most random thing I ever read in a talkback and for any reaseon it made me laugh long and loud. <br> (Although I can imagine that you don't need a camera to find a micro machine in your dick. The bump might give away its location.)

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 10:36 a.m. CST

    Looking forward to it immensely

    by Shpadoinkle

    Irish directors don't get much exposure lately (except for *spit* John Moore) and judging by the trailer this guy McQauid has done exceptional things with his small budget. I'll be there to support it...hope it plays at the IFI Horrorthon this year!

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 11:06 a.m. CST

    When does this hit DVD? I'm sorry, Blu-Ray

    by SoylentMean

    Forgot to conform there. I apologize.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 12:14 p.m. CST

    a_terradactyl is a troll

    by Nerd_Rage_Retard_Strength

    you have nothing worth-while to say, positive or negative. you are just a troll, looking to get a reaction from the other talk-backers. very boring and played out...

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 12:46 p.m. CST


    by jambone

    read your own review before posting Capone.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 12:46 p.m. CST

    Yet I have you responding to it (nerd_rage_retard)

    by a_terradactyl

    Im not a troll im a terradactyl. you fuck stain.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 1:03 p.m. CST

    mission accomplished a_terradactyl

    by Nerd_Rage_Retard_Strength

    you rule. now you can die a happy man/boy

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 1:13 p.m. CST

    Thank you, thats all I wanted

    by a_terradactyl

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 1:20 p.m. CST

    Fuck you

    by a_terradactyl

    The terradactyl wants nothing. Thoes B movies need to stay dead.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 4:10 p.m. CST

    This movie is worth checking out.

    by Shepard Wong

    I saw it at Philly Cinefest earlier this year. Definitely better than the craptastic two films of Perlman's mentioned earlier. Fun flick.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 4:30 p.m. CST

    In the vein of a Hammer Film eh?

    by Admiral_Akbar

    I'm downloading now (torrent) & let you know if I agree after watching.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 5:21 p.m. CST

    That's fucked my "Harry Merrick" script then

    by palimpsest

    Ah well.

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 6:20 p.m. CST

    Dirty Pirate.....

    by SubliminalJones

    "STAR TRACK"??

  • Aug. 12, 2009, 7 p.m. CST

    star track

    by Nerd_Rage_Retard_Strength


  • Aug. 12, 2009, 7 p.m. CST

    Dirty Pirate

    by Nerd_Rage_Retard_Strength

    have you had sex for the first time yet?

  • Aug. 13, 2009, 7:27 a.m. CST

    Saw this at the Dublin Film Festival a few months ago

    by Buffalo500

    It was pretty good. Before the film started the festival director introduced it saying it could be the best film at the whole festival, probably because the director was a friend of hers. It wasn't but still it was enjoyable for what it was. I was tempted to go up to Larry Fessenden afterwards to say how much I enjoyed his work as a director but I did not in the end

  • Aug. 13, 2009, 10:07 a.m. CST

    Sounds very cool.

    by DocPazuzu

    I'm currently on a huge Hammer binge so this is just right for me at the moment. Fessenden is the shit, too. <p> Speaking of Hammer, I must point out how awesome The Cush was, with his badass tweeds, cigarettes and mad skills. Class act.

  • Aug. 13, 2009, 4:35 p.m. CST

    Anything that resurects Hammer

    by seniorspeilbergio

    ... is a good thing. those old films were great and a 1000 times more entertaining then the corporate CGI crapfest Hollywood pumps out.

  • Aug. 14, 2009, 6:54 p.m. CST

    Can I have some of what your smoking?

    by Eddie_Dane

    $4.99 worth to be precise. You owe me. This movie sux.

  • Aug. 15, 2009, 12:13 p.m. CST

    Not worth it, in my opinion.

    by bottleimp

    The trailer looked promising, but this movie was one of the longest 85 minutes I've even sat through. There wasn't even a real plot-- just tiny plot-lings. This felt more like a cobbled-together mess of different story ideas, or maybe an attempt to jumpstart a series following the adventures of the two grave-robbers. Boring, pointless, and all the best moments were ripped off from EVIL DEAD.