Horror, more than most genres, has little need of name actors.
Did anyone know Jeffrey Combs before Reanimator? How about Bruce Campbell before Evil Dead? Were there any “bankable” stars in Romero’s Dead films?
For the most part, being able to remember hastily written dialogue, and the ability to render it without stuttering, is sufficient.
There are certainly examples, and I Sell The Dead is one, of a few familiar faces with dependable skills elevating modest material to agreeable heights.
Here, Ron Perelman (who is as reliable as they come) is Father Duffy, a 19th century clergyman tasked with taking the final confession of convicted grave robber Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan, Lord of the Rings, Lost) who awaits a morning appointment with the guillotine.
Both actors are given sufficient room to ham and ramble, and they make the most of it. I Sell The Dead is highly reminiscent of Jacques Tournier’s grimly fiendish Comedy of Terrors (1963), which cast Vincent Price and Peter Lorre as a pair of inept undertakers. This is broad-stroke black comedy; subtlety need not apply.
The tale unfolds as Blake recounts how he got into the occasionally profitable profession of grave robbery, mentored by his old pal Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden).
At first, the two find themselves under the thumb of Dr. Quint (Angus Scrimm, aka The Tall Man, from Phantasm) a physician with a seemingly inexhaustible need for cadavers—the fresher the better.
Imagine everyone’s shock and surprise when their latest unearthed specimen turns out to be quite undead!
You can’t go wrong with I Sell The Dead. It’s the very definition of a ripping yarn, where the action is plentiful and over the top, and the principal players really have a ball.