I SELL THE DEAD (Glenn McQuaid, 2009)
323 Sixth Ave. at Third St.
Friday, November 6, and Saturday, November 7
Series continues through November 14
Glenn McQuaid’s I Sell the Dead is an old-fashioned fun horror movie, paying homage to the Hammer films of yore. After his grave-robbing partner, Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden), is guillotined, Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) awaits his turn. With five hours to go before his execution, Blake is visited by Father Francis Duffy (Ron Perlman), who wants to know all the details of Grimes and Blake’s business, especially as it relates to harvesting the undead. So with a bottle of whiskey by his side, Blake recounts the pair’s eerie adventures through foggy eighteenth-century England and their battles with the House of Murphy, a rival outfit that also gathers corpses for a living. Writer-director-editor McQuaid imbues the film with a graphic-novel feel, with many scenes ending in colorful freeze-frame panels; although I Sell the Dead is an original story (based on his own short), the director did adapt the script into a comic book before shooting in order to capture the mood and visual style he was after. And cinematographer Rick Lopez, production designer David Bell, and art director Beck Underwood nail that atmosphere, along with Jeff Grace’s ambitious score. The cast also includes Phantasm Tall Man Angus Scrimm as a creepy violin-playing doctor in desperate need of body parts, Brenda Cooney as Blake’s boisterous girlfriend, and Joel Garland as a burly tavern owner after his own piece of the action. The film was shot in Staten Island, Long Island, and Manhattan; if the Fortune of War bar looks familiar, that’s because it’s actually the Scratcher in the East Village. I Sell the Dead is screening November 6 & 7 as part of the IFC Center series “Glass Eye Pix: 30th Anniversary Tribute,” a loving look at the indie company headed by Fessenden, the director of such cult favorites as Habit and Wendigo. The festival concludes November 13 & 14 with Jim Mickle’s Stake Land.