I Sell the Dead

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Meet 1800’s grave robbers Willie Grimes and Arthur Blake, two men who love their jobs. These two aren’t any ordinary grave robbers though. They go after a very different type of body, more specifically, the type that hasn’t really died. You see, Willie and Arthur have found a much more profitable trade in digging up the undead, and, for a nominal fee, anyone can have themselves a little piece of the supernatural.

I resent the title I Sell the Dead. In fact, I resent the whole premise of this movie. The thought of my poor undead brothers and sisters being harvested for monetary gain is both discriminatory and offensive, and I will be speaking with PETZ about this. What do you mean you’ve never heard of PETZ, People for the Ethical Treatment of Zombies? We have our rights too you know.

Anyways, our movie of the day starts out with the execution of one William Grimes. What his crimes are is not for us to know quite yet. After poor Willie’s demise, a priest is seen entering the jail cell of Grime’s partner, Arthur Blake. Mr. Blake is set for the executioner’s chopping block the following day, and our nameless priest has come to get Arthur’s confession before his death. It is from here that our story takes off. Arthur joined up with the grave robbing Willie early in his life. Willie taught Arthur everything there is to know about the grave robbing business, and the two spent the next several years digging up bodies for the ruthless Dr. Vernon Quint (Angus Scrimm of Phantasm fame). The misdirected doctor uses the bodies to further his scientific research, and blackmails Arthur and Willie into doing his dirty work for him. That’s where their vampire discovery comes into play. I’m not going to give away what happens when they discover her, but let’s just say she frees them up for their own pursuits. After finding their vampire goldmine, the death obsessed pair discover an entire market for vampires, zombies, and…other things. Unfortunately for the dastardly duo, their lifestyle of death and greed leads to some rather unfortunate consequences.

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{Other things}

Offensiveness to my kind aside, I love this movie. I mean, I really love this movie. It had everything that’s missing from so many other movies in the genre today. A great cast, awesome effects, and an intriguing story all come together in a way that would have made Dr. Frankenstein proud.

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{Alcohol and grave robbing go hand in hand}

Let’s start with the cast first. They picked the right people to play the necessary parts in this flick, and each one does a great job with their character, taking them and molding them to fit the actor perfectly. You will come to love both Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden) and Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) because of the instantly relatable performances of Fessenden and Monaghan. They play the characters so well that while being grave robbing bastards you still can’t help but want to spend a little time drinking with them yourself. The other actors appearing are just as amazing and there is enough horror talent to fill a bloody blending machine. Thankfully that acting talent wasn’t wasted by bad dialogue. Those of you who read my reviews know that dialogue is a huge factor toward how well I like a movie. Even the lowest budget flick can be saved by great dialogue. Writer and director Glen McQuaid wrote the perfect dialogue for I Sell the Dead and deserves a great, big pat on the back. It’s excellent, moving from serious moments to hilarious comments seamlessly and with a smooth transition.

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{These two will keep you firmly planted in front of the screen}

The effects are top notch as well. The makeup and gore effects were done perfectly, and given serious dedication (thankfully no major CGI). I love the way they do the undead, the makeup seemed to work perfectly for the actions and mannerisms of each supernatural character, meaning they changed the makeup to fit each creature. I know most films already do that as far as changing the makeup between vampire, zombie, or what have you, but with I Sell the Dead they change the makeup to fit each individual creature so that no two creatures look at all similar. You could have three zombies standing on a beach together and each one looks dramatically different, and they did a great job matching up the makeup with said creature’s mannerisms. What really showed the dedication of the film’s makeup department was that even if a creature stood completely still you could almost tell how they would react anyway based entirely on how they looked. Whether that be feral, slow, dumb, fast, vicious, intelligent, or even kind they made sure to have each zombie wear their heart on their sleeve so to speak.

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{Some great examples of the differing zombie looks, the one on top is an example of one of the more playful zombies in the film while the one directly above is one of the film’s more vicious zombies}

Lastly, let me touch on the story. Absolutely perfect (yes, there is a lot of perfection to this movie). It was astoundingly well written, it moved along at a decent pace, and not a single bit of the story seemed out of place or overly long. It is a rare thing to see a story this well written. The serious moments are deadly serious but don’t take you out of the lightened mood of the story. The few sad moments in the flick will give you more of a sardonic smirk then a full set of tears. Even the funny parts will having you rolling on the floor laughing, but won’t send the flick into slapstick territory. It was a perfect balance and made for an incredibly enjoyable viewing experience.

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{Our priest Ron Perlman sits down to listen to Mr. Blake’s ghastly tale}

In conclusion, GO OUT THERE AND WATCH THIS MOVIE. I don’t mean to yell, but this is one of the better horror flicks I have seen recently and really reinvigorated my love of the zombie genre. The talent shown here proves that there are still directors out there with great new ideas and the imagination to make them awesome.


The Undead Review


Directed By: Glenn McQuaid (V/H/S, The Resurrection Apprentice)

Starring: Dominic Monaghan (Lost, Lord of the Rings Trilogy), Larry Fessenden (Hellbenders, Stake Land), Ron Pearlman (Hellboy, Blade 2), and Angus Scrimm (The Tall Man from the Phantasm series)

Released By: Glass Eye Pix and Anchor Bay Entertainment

Release Year: 2008

Release Type: Limited Theatrical Release

MPAA Rating: NR

About The Undead Review

When I was alive I was an asshole and after I died remained pretty much the same, if not a little worse. You’d think becoming a member of the walking dead would mellow a person out, no more worrying about awkward small talk with people, no more having to be politically correct, and the entire world is your upright, bipedal buffet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell to be a zombie, just somewhat irritating at times, especially those times you have to watch a lame movie or read a lame book. Thankfully, when I am forced to watch these films or read those books, I’ve got places like The Undead Review to bitch and moan to my heart’s content. {When he’s not devouring the living or sinking his teeth into a good film The Undead Review (Andy Taylor) spends his time writing his own stories or hunting down the paranormal. Oh, and did we mention his blind dog once saved the world?)
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