I Sell The Dead (2008)

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.

The Hazing (2004)

Today’s lesson: Don’t judge a movie by its blurb. I read the words “fraternity” and “sorority” and my interest began to wane.

Glad I toughed it out. The Hazing is a first-rate, low-budg, sloppy kiss tribute to (surprise, surprise) Sam Raimi and The Evil Dead.

Nutshell: Two gals and three dudes pledging to brother-sister houses must complete a Halloween scavenger hunt and bring all their items to Hack House, a local mansion of the haunted variety.

Note: Bruce Campbell’s picture makes an appearance as one of the items the pledges must roundup on the scavenger hunt, for Pete’s sake.

Another needful thing is a potent grimoire of dark magic that’s in the possession of mysterious Professor Kapps (Brad Dourif). They grab the book, a demon is summoned, and so begins a night of Raimi-esque chaos, confusion, and high-voltage hack and stack.

And Brad Dourif kills (literally!) as the mad professor, providing a sturdy dramatic foundation for his less polished costars.

I was thoroughly entertained by The Hazing, mostly because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Delia (Nectar Rose), shouts, “I wasn’t planning to stay out all night killing my friends!” when an evil spirit possesses her fellow pledges.

Fortunately, the goofy tone doesn’t diminish the horror action. It’s got a pedal-to-the-metal pace, decent body count, naked interludes, and scaredy-cat nerd Tim (Perry Shen), ends up a hero of sorts.

Tim proudly takes a moment of screen time to tell his fellow cast members why he isn’t a stereotype geek. “I don’t work with computers, I don’t like video games, and I’m not a virgin,” he insists.  “I lost my cherry when I was 15!”

The Hazing is very much in keeping with this statement. It’s not what you think it is. It’s way better.