Although it’s clearly inspired by the likes of EC Comics, “I Sell the Dead” doesn’t feel nearly as fun as past efforts that mined that source, such as “Creepshow” and “Tales from the Crypt.” For a modestly budgeted horror-comedy, writer/director Glenn McQuaid has succeeded in making things look slick; if only he’d given his creative team carte blanche to slide across the floor.
In a framing device, “Lost” refugee Dominic Monaghan plays grave robber Arthur Blake, under arrest and facing the guillotine for his felonious occupation. To Father Duffy (Ron Perlman of the “Hellboy” franchise), he relates the sordid details of his career. It began when he was a poor child, under the tutelage of greasy Willie Grimes (producer Larry Fessenden).
Heretofore proceeding at a lackadaisical pace, the movie picks up to at least a brisk walk when our two corpse hunters unearth various members of the undead. Sam Raimi would be pleased by these encounters, but perhaps not exactly impressed. It all ends with a welcome twist of absurdity, albeit too little, too late.
With occasional freeze-frames that turn to illustrations and sequences that utilized layers of art elements, there’s a lot to admire in the look of “Dead.” It’s the execution that could use a little more, ahem, life.
The DVD comes packaged with its accompanying graphic-novel adaptation, which is great for those of us who considered buying the book, but never got around to it. Two birds, one stone. And to resurrect another adage, the book is better. —Rod Lott