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3.9 out of 5 stars
Burke and Hare [DVD] [2010]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is an enjoyable romp detailing the adventurers of two Irish rogues who would go on to be two of the most infamous murderers in Scottish history, the body snatchers Burke and Hare. This is, from the off, a comedy, so don't expect any grim realities. Burke and Hare have been reimagined from the evil low life of reality into Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis's loveable Irish rogues out to make a living and being sucked into the easy money to be made supplying corpses to eminent surgeon Dr. Knox.

On paper the film should be great - 2 talented leads, a good idea to base the film around and a host of cameos from well known faces old and new (including Ronnie Corbett and Christopher Lee, not names you often see alongside each other!) which provide pleasing links to the great horror and comedy films of the past. The use of the real life Edinburgh locations where the two real villains would have lurked is a nice touch, as are the little details such as an appearance from Greyfriars Bobby. But while the whole thing is ok, it never really seems to really take off.

Some of the jokes are a bit laboured, and some of the performances lacklustre (especially, and it pains me to say this about someone whose work I have enjoyed so much in the past, Tim Curry). The romantic subplot, which is necessary to give the film its noble ending, never really gets off the ground due to a lack of chemistry between Pegg and Fisher. The film does often take off and provide genuine laughs, and some scenes are hilarious. But it just isn't consistent, so 3 stars only. It's worth seeing, and enjoyable enough, but not a classic.

The guest appearance from the real William Burke was a great touch, and shows some real imagination on the part of the film makers. And any film in which a certain annoying insurance salesman is treated in such a fashion is worth a look.

I would recommend a look at Flesh & The Fiends [DVD] [1959] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] for a somewhat different take on the legend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2011
I'm afraid that I am one of those Brit geeks who will watch anything that features Simon Pegg, his film career has not only been a surprising one, but full of cult classics. `Burke and Hare' is not going to grace the best of list alongside the likes of `Sean of the Dead' and `Star Trek', but it certainly has merit. Directed by John Landis, this is the first film he has tackled in over 10 years, and it feels like it. `Burke and Hare' has an old fashioned (if 80s movie making can now be considered old fashioned) feel to it, as this bizarre buddy-cum-murderer comedy could come straight out of 1985.

Burke and Hare were two real life murderers from 19th century Edinburgh, they came to infamy when they were found to be killing homeless people to sell to the local medical practitioners. The morally bankrupt nature of the characters is brushed to one side in Landis' film and instead it paints a very dark comedy. As the titular Burke and Hare, Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis are a great double act, playing off one another well. They easily carry a film that is otherwise slightly confused. The storyline is all over the place and Isla Fisher's role as the `actress' is misplaced. Not all the cameos fail; it is fellow `Spaced' alumni Jessica Hynes who comes out of the film best, stealing some of the funniest moments in the film.

With a standout British cast there is a lot to enjoy with `Burke and Hare'. However, there is no doubting that the film itself is a bit of a mess. The budget cannot quite cope with recreating olde Edinburgh and Landis' humour does feel a little dated. Still worth watching for fans of Pegg and British comedy, just don't expect too much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2014
Having really enjoyed Paul The Movie, I found this mildly disappointing.

The plot is that the titular Burke and Hare are down on their luck in 19th century Edinburgh, United Kingdom, where a new law means that Dr Know cannot get cadavers for his anatomy class. Through a series of contrivances, our "heroes" wind up murdering people and selling their bodies before the law catches up with them.

The cast is strong: in addition to Simon Pegg, there is Tim Curry, Isla Fisher (who looks very hot), Bill Bailey, Hugh Bonneville, Ronnie Corbett, Stephen Merchant, Paul Whitehouse... you get the idea. Best of British.

There are two problems with this movie. The first is the "comedy" tag. There were instances where I smiled, but there were no belly laughs.

The second is the ending. Accepting that this is not a historically accurate film, the ending was disappointing because all of the worst villains got away whilst the "hero-villain" sacrificed himself for an ideal that never existed.

The sex scenes mean that this is unsuitable for children, but the characters don't have enough depth to generate the tension necessary to grip and adult. Ultimately this was an average film that you will watch once, and then never again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is black comedy at its darkest. The story is supposed to be a comedic take on the real life body snatchers/murders Burke and Hare and it is the first time anyone has tried to portray those events as comical. I liked the movie, but I didn't love it. There were plenty of blood thirsty moments and shockers that had me closing my eyes. Sadly however even the brilliance of Andy Serkis could not save this movie although he was undoubtedly the best thing in it. Simon Pegg seems a little lacklustre without his usual comedy buddy Nick Frost. I am a big fan of Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the dead and those two just gel well together on screen.

Nice little cameos from lots of famous people. I thought the actress who played Hare's wife Lucky was amusing as was their sex scene together when they were talking business. Burke and Hare took the very modern saying "It's just business, nothing personal" to the full extreme when dispatching their victims. Not really historically correct, but not really trying to be and going for the laughs, some hit the mark and some falling flat. Entertaining enough for a rental rather than a buy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 2012
19th century Edinburgh grave robbers Burke & Hare have been the subject of at least 4 films prior to this one (5 if you count Val Lewton's THE BODY SNATCHER (1945) which has the same setting and plotline but only one grave robber). 1) THE GREED OF WILLIAM HART aka HORROR MANIACS (1948) with the legendary Tod Slaughter which had tremendous censorship and legal difficulties as a relative of Hare's threatened to sue, 2) THE FLESH & THE FIENDS (1959) with Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasance, and George Rose which after 50 years is still the best version, 3) BURKE & HARE (1971) a poor combination of broad comedy and peepshow melodrama that capitalizes on the then new lack of censorship with lots of gratuitous nudity. It also has a dreadful, totally inappropriate soundtrack, and 4) THE DOCTOR & THE DEVILS (1985) with Jonathan Pryce, Stephen Rea, Timothy Dalton and based on a screenplay by Dylan Thomas written in 1953 which changes the characters' names for probably the same reason as GREED OF WILLIAM HART. That film, directed by horror veteran Freddie Francis, is a totally lacklustre affair which, considering the talent involved, should have been much better than it was. That bring us to this new, eagerly awaited version which was directed by John Landis. The results are definitely a mixed bag.

It's as if Landis took the previous versions and borrowed bits and pieces from them. Like THE DOCTOR & THE DEVILS, the settings and the period costumes are superb. The squalor of 19th century Edinburgh (most notably the crowd scenes) is beautifully captured just as in THE FLESH & THE FIENDS. Tom Wilkinson's Doctor Knox is as over the top as anything Tod Slaughter ever did and the comedy bits and undistinguished soundtrack recall the 1971 film whose main setting was a bordello. Unfortunately this BURKE & HARE can't make up its mind as to what it wants to be. Not that it's totally without merit. Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis make a fine Burke & Hare. Serkis, in particular, is given a chance to shine as an actor not just a CGI creation like in LORD OF THE RINGS or RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. It's certainly possible to mix black comedy and horror. Landis himself did it brilliantly 30 years ago in AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON but here I'm afraid lightning failed to strike twice. BURKE & HARE is definitely worth seeing especially if you're fans of Serkis & Pegg and it has odd moments that stay with you like the burning of the photographs or the final shot of the real Burke's skeleton. I didn't hate the film but I was definitely disappointed with it. Any film that manages to restrain Tim Curry has definitely got problems
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2014
Although Jessica Hynes and Andy Serkis were wonderful, and there were some funny moments, I found this film rather underwhelming. Despite the comedy barrel chase, gentle digs at the lake poets and Bill Bailey's hangman cameo, the plot lacked the focus and oomph I have come to expect from Simon Pegg, and the Shakespeare was sadly cringe-worthy.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 April 2011
This film starts out & ends with hangman (Bill Baily) telling us the about the opening & closing of the story, which follows William Burke (Simon Pegg - Shaun of the Dead) & William Hare (Andy Serkis - Golum from LOTR's) as two 19th century con men who stumble across a lucrative business, of providing cadavers for an Edinburgh medical school run by Dr Robert Knox (Tom Wilkinson - The Full Monty). Pegg & Surkis start out as lowly con men who cant....well, con anybody really, just happen to stumble across a lucrative way to make a fortune, due to a change in laws about the bodies of those criminals who have been Hung, being used for scientific research.

From a first come first served basis of selling the bodies, to all of them being taken to a Dr Monro(Tim Curry -The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Mix this in with the fact that the King has offered a lucrative prize for whom ever has made the most outstanding discovery in medical science to date, means Dr Knox is desperate for fresh....specimens, and will pay double the normal price. In step....well stumble really, Burke & Hare, who by pure chance due to the death of one of Hare's residents, his wife Lucky (Jessica Hynes- Shaun of The Dead) runs a B&B, and the light bulb soon appears as the good life beckons. They get a taste of it with fine cloths & food, however anyone who's anyone notices as they rise from pauper to noble mans lifestyle in a short space of time, & eventually it's not long until others want a piece of their pie, but can they keep it hush hush from the law(Ronnie Corbett) ?

Personally i was really excited to watch this film, but sadly it ended up being a little bit of a disappointment from my initial high expectations. Although i thought it was funny in places, there weren't really any laugh out loud moments, it was more subtle humor, although at least the story was decent enough to follow & enjoy. Nothing to shout from the rooftops about, but still makes an enjoyable enough film to watch. There are a lot of dead bodies as you'd expect, with the odd open chest, severed leg etc...here & there, fine if your a regular CSI viewer, a little gory, nothing extreme. Just in case your a bit squeamish ;-) Worth a watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2014
I was a bit dissapointed. I thought there would have been more to it. The sex scene was really not needed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2013
A bit disappointed with the film, but glad I bought it as used and didn't spend the full price for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2014
good but l don't think l would watch again for some time. not as funny as l thought it would be
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