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Burke and Hare [DVD] 
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John Landis directs this British black-comedy horror based on the real-life exploits of Irish murderers William Burke and William Hare. In the early 19th century, Burke (Simon Pegg) and Hare (Andy Serkis) decide to exploit a lucrative gap in the market by providing Edinburgh's world-renowned medical school with fresh cadavers for its research. Their methods of procuring the bodies, however, are unconventional to say the least. Christopher Lee, Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson and Jenny Agutter co-star.
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The subject of many a horror film, Landis and the revived Ealing Studios take their lead more from the studio's classic black comedies like Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Ladykillers than Hammer (though Landis is enough of a buff to more than just doff his cap in their direction), updated with plenty of talk of business models and swipes at society's hypocrisy as our evil Laurel and Hardy ply their trade. Burke's romance with Isla Fisher's actress/working girl looking for a backer for her all-female version of MacBeth doesn't really add much to the mix beyond giving him the opportunity to fob off her queries about where he gets his money from with "I'm in surgical supplies," but the film is brisk and breezy enough to never outstay its welcome and manages to pull off turning a pair of `Irish psychopaths' into romantic heroes of a sort in a feelgood comedy. There's an intriguingly eclectic supporting cast, from Jessica Hynes/Stevenson as Mrs Hare and Ronnie Corbett as the local militiaman and, as is par for the course with the director, there are cameos aplenty, from Jenny Agutter and John Woodvine from An American Werewolf in London to Ray Harryhausen, Costa Gavras (et famille) and cinematographer Robert Paynter while Christopher Lee is numbered among the victims - even the real William Burke is persuaded to make an end credits cameo. Although John Mathieson's scope photography feels a little flat at times, there's some especially impressive production and costume design to give the film a bigger look than its budget implies, and despite its somewhat undeserved critical drubbing it's hard not to embrace a film that ends with a romantic sacrifice riffing on A Tale of Two Cities and which sends Michael Winner off a cliff for a laugh.
Entertainment's Bluray offers a decent 2.40:1 transfer with 10 deleted scenes, outtakes and rather more substantial than usual cast and crew interviews as extras.
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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