I Sell the Dead and The Countess

I rented two horror film gems from Blockbuster last night and I thought I’d talk about them a little.

The first is a horror-comedy called I Sell the Dead which stars Dominic Monaghan and Larry Fessbender and also featuring Ron Perlman and Angus Scrimm.

I Sell the Dead tells thet tale of two, down on their luck, grave robbers (Monaghan and Fessbender) who make a career robbing the graves of the dead, and the not-so-dead, and selling them to a nefarious doctor (Scrimm) who uses the corpses for his own personal needs. Of course, our two “heroes” are imprisoned and sentenced to death for their crimes but, before they go, they must “confess” their story to the local parish priest (played by Ron Perlman). The story is filled with tales of run-ins with another corpse snatching gang (the Murphy’s), vampires, aliens and zombies that just won’t stay dead. Its a very funny film (as well as a winner of several awards from the 2008 SlamDance Film Festival and Toronto After Dark) and its a shame it never got a wider release than it has. The producer and one of the stars of the film, Larry Fessbender, is a talented film writer who successfully blends bouts of comedy with shots of horror. A definite must see …

The second film I rented was The Countess which was written and directed by French-American actress, Julie Delpy. The Countess tells the legend of the Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory, who was sentenced to death and walled up in her own castle as punishment for murdering hundreds of young peasant girls so that she could bathe in their blood and maintain her youthful appearance.  Unlike the Hammer horror film treatment, Delpy treats Countess Bathory as a sympathetic woman whose loveless life is filled with abuse, violence and sexual depravity at the hands of her husband. Upon his death, Bathory falls in love with a younger man but when his father intercedes and sends false letters supposedly from the young man to Bathory, breaking up their relationship, the Countess goes over the edge and believes that her young lover spurred her because she was “old” (in the film, Countess Bathory is 38 yrs old; far from being an old woman by our standards). She prays to God to keep her youth and an accident in which blood is spilt upon her skin provides our Countess with the idea of murdering young girls for their blood.  Their are fine performances in the film not only from Ms. Delpy (who plays the Countess) but also from Oscar winner William Hurt and Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds). The film is a cautionary tale of one’s obsession with youth. Although the film dances around the myth of Bathory and vampirism, it is a classy film. If you are looking for a period horror film with more story and suspense than gore then this is your film. In an interesting historical note, the real Countess Elizabeth Bathory was a distant relative of another notorious blood fiend, Prince Vlad Tepes (Count Dracula) of Transylvania.

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