Hours away from the chopping block, apprentice graverobber Arthur (Dominic Monaghan) recounts his small-hour scrapes with ghouls and ruffians to Ron Perlman’s priest. The storytelling frame allows a genial, ain’t-it-cool pile-up of occasionally antic episodes, most of which build to Arthur and his partner Willie’s glorified shock takes at frisky, impeccably made-up undead. Set in the feckin’ 19th century and buffered by raise-your-flagon pub scenes (apparently shot in the East Village at the Scratcher), the setup is like snack food for horror hobbyists—Angus Scrimm turns up, and (producer) Larry Fessenden plays old-hand Willie. It’s rather hard for anyone who has ever chanced upon a Poe anthology on cable and only lasted through one or two cheeky tales. First-time director Glenn McQuaid is especially enthusiastic about the duo’s rivals (a Burton-esque family of rogues dubbed “The House of Murphy”), but the editing rushes through the best bits and trips up Arthur and Willie’s partnership. Supporting hobbit turned Lost axiom Monaghan is too reserved anyway, and even Fessenden holds back from hork-in-yer-top-hat unsavoriness. Though Arthur’s brassy wench, Maisey (Eileen Colgan), enters too late to turn things around, she gets the best introduction: fresh off a career in “wrecking” ships, siren-style, for their booty.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 4, 2009