Grave robbing. These days it doesn't happen much. But in the 19th century it was a booming business, even if it was highly illegal. For writer/director Glenn McQuaid's directorial debut, I have to say that while the setting and story were in a horror style, it was the comedy that shined through for me. For a first-time director, it was top notch.
I Sell the Dead follows the path of Arthur Blake, a 19th century historical figure known to steal bodies from cemeteries and coffins throughout England until his eventual capture. In the movie, Blake (played by Dominic Monaghan of The Lord of the Rings, Lost, and Flash Forward) decides to weave a tale for the strange priest, Father Duffy (Ron Perlman of Hellboy and Sons of Anarchy) who comes to talk to him before his hanging. Add to that the unique character of Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden, who also produced the film), the body thief who trains young Angus in the art of body snatching, and Dr. Vernon Quint (Angus Scrimm of Phantasm fame), the doctor for whom Angus and Willie steal the bodies... it's a unique cast.
However, the strange non-supernatural characters like Dr. Quint and Father Duffy are only part of the equation. When corpses run low due to better security measures, you start getting more creative in where you look for bodies. What happens when you encounter a good looking corpse stabbed with a stake through the heart? Do you remove it to take the body to the good doctor giving you so many problems? Or what happens when you encounter strange creatures that like to eat your flesh and don't react quite the same way living things do when you chop off their limbs?
The horror bits were balanced out with the gallows humor throughout the production. It seemed more in the spirit of Evil Dead than a serious film. Don't let that stop you from watching though — there's plenty of blood and violence to go around.