Glenn McQuaid | 2008 | USA
I was so exhausted on the final night of the Toronto After Dark festival that I assumed I'd end up napping through half the closing night film, not because I wasn't looking forward to it but because I wouldn't be able to help it. I'm happy to report that this fun, Hammer-esque period horror comedy had just enough charm, gore and bewildering monsters to carry me through the night fully awake.
The setup is easy: a priest (Ron Perlman) comes into Arthur Blake's cell the night before his execution by hanging in order to hear his last confession. Blake (played by Dominic Monaghan, who was one of those adorable hobbits in LoTR) launches into a weird and wonderful tale about his life as a grave robber alongside mentor/partner Willy Grimes (a hilarious Larry Fessenden).
Seems that the unlikely pair were making a decent living stealing corpses for the creepy Dr. Vernon Quint (Phantasm's own Tall Man, Angus Scrimm) until they discovered there was even more to be made in pilfering undead corpses. Why do people need so many fresh bodies that grave robbing is a viable profession with stiff competition in old-timey England? Why are vampire cadavers worth so much dough? Why do Blake and Grimes' rivals (the scary Murphy gang) seem to have zombies in cages? The answer to this and so much more is: who the hell cares?
This film is a fun, humorous and loving homage to the schlocky horror films of yore, and can be enjoyed in absolutely the same way as an old Peter Cushing gem. If you like this stuff, you'll like this playful updated version of the genre.