Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Honourable Mention: I Sell the Dead


This 2008 film, directed by Glenn McQuaid was one of the films on at the 2009 Bram Stoker International Film Festival and I mentioned it in my report back and said I’d be giving the film an honourable mention.

The film itself had, for me, an almost Terry Gilliamesque quality to it and is composed of the anecdotes of one Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) as dictated to Father Duffy (Ron Perlman; Cronos, Blade 2 and Hellboy animated: Blood and Iron) as he awaits execution.

His crime… well he has been found guilty of both grave robbing (which is true) and murder (which he denies).

Blake and GrimesHis stories tell of how he became an apprentice to Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden, the man behind the excellent vampire movie habit) – indeed we see Grimes executed at the head of the film. For years the two were forced, due to blackmail, to work for the obnoxious Dr Vernon Quint (horror legend Angus Scrimm, Subspecies, Vampirella and Transylvania Twist). That is until they stumbled upon the “underbelly of the resurrection trade”.

Garlic and stakeThey got wind of a burial on the moors, at a crossroads. When Blake asks why the corpse wasn’t buried in a graveyard Grimes guess that it was a suicide who was then excommunicated. When asked why at a crossroad it is tied to the restless spirit not knowing which way is which. However when they uncover the woman (Heather Robb) she has garlic round her neck and a stake through her heart. The word vampire isn’t actually used in film but it is in the credits and we are clearly using full on vampire lore.

The VampireThey remove the garlic and then the stake but, as they make room on their cart, they fail to notice the corpse standing. The movement of the vampire is excellently done, all the moves seeming uncoordinated and disjointed. When they turn around the corpse is gone and they leg it. They spill their gear and then spot a figure ahead. Grimes runs the other way but Blake calls out to her. The vampire turns and lunges forward. Some slapstick fighting and then Grimes accidentally stakes her. He plays a quick game of pull and plunge with the stake and then has an idea…

Having left the corpse with Quint – and neglecting to mention about the danger of removing the stake – the two men find themselves no longer bothered by the doctor and with a lucrative new career, grave robbing the undead. The film then sees a variety of undead but that is our lot for vampires.

I really enjoyed the movie and, of course, it is always nice to see a vampire in on the act – especially one drawn more like the vampire of traditional lore, abandoning the romance of the later vampire genre. The imdb page is here.

Bonus Bit: The Comic

comicThe version of the DVD available from HMV (certainly in the UK) had a 44 page comic with it. The comic maps out the film as a graphic novelisation and certainly does not mess with the core story. Written by Glenn McQuaid it is actually quite a nice piece for collectors. The artwork by Brahm Revel isn’t anything special but is functional enough and fits in nicely with the work in film as Revel also produced that.

The end of the comic book suggests that we should keep an eye out for “The Further Adventures of Grimes and Blake” and I understand that McQuaid is writing that in comic book form.


Nicole_Hadaway said...

Just the title, "I Sell the Dead" hit me between the eyes and drew me over to read the review. When I saw Dominic Moyna.... (sorry, forgotten how to spell it!) was in it (can I confess I've liked him ever since his Hetty Wainthrop days?), I had my fingers crossed that you would like it, and now that I know you did -- I'm renting it!

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Nicole, it has had mixed reviews. As I said it is quite Gilliamesque and his films get mixed reviews too!

For what its worth I saw it at Whitby and liked it enough to buy the DVD.

Everlost said...

Nicole, i thought it was pretty darn good. well worth a rental, considering some of the garbage you could get off the shelf!

By the way...

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Mr Everlost Sir, you are showing your true colours pimping that Demons rubbish... lol...

For those who missed my review, this is what I thought of the latest Brit production to hit the States.

Christine said...

Sounds worth of checking, actually.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Christine, it really is imho