BURKE AND HARE (2010) Reviews and overview

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‘They’re making a killing’

Burke and Hare is a 2010 British comedy horror feature film about two nineteenth-century grave robbers who turn to murder to provide corpses for dissection. It was promoted as Burke & Hare

Directed by John Landis (Innocent Blood; An American Werewolf in London; Schlock) from a screenplay written by Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft. The Fragile Films production stars Simon Pegg (Slaughterhouse Rulez; The World’s End; Shaun of the Dead), Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher and Tom Wilkinson.



“Serkis is funnier and more invested than Pegg by some distance, but supporting players like Tom Wilkinson and Tim Curry all get a chance to try out their Scottish accents and mostly do quite well – Fisher not so much […] What matters is that it’s fun, and on that count Burke and Hare just about delivers the goods.” Alone in the Dark

“It took an Anglophile American to make the best British gothic horror of the 21st century. With a script by St Trinian’s writers Ashworth and Moorcroft and perfect casting in the two leads, Landis’ black comedy plays fast and loose with history but has some smart details, all set among a gloriously recreated 1820s Edinburgh.” Dog Soldiers and Doghouses: British Horror Films 2000 – 2011

“There are loads of great comedians and actors in this film but the script is dull, the humor is cheesy and it doesn’t deliver any real laughs. In short, it is a complete waste of talent, it’s boring and the accents are grating. The last thing the Burke and Hare story needs is to have a predictable and dull clichéd romance thrown into the mix.” Eat Horror

Burke and Hare fails at every turn. It’s a romantic comedy without jokes or romance. It’s a horror film without the horror. In short, it’s stupid as hell and frankly, I’m embarrassed for everyone involved.” Film Threat

“A misfire to be sure, Burke & Hare‘s comedic timing feels one step off, resulting in a film with solid performances and an amusing story, but not many laughs and not much replay value.” IGN

“All of the actors are enjoying themselves, and the movie is stuffed with history, atmosphere and vivid characters. What’s in short supply, though, is laughter.” New York Post, September 9, 2011

“When an American director uses a bunch of well-known English actors to tell a Scottish tale centered on two Irish immigrants, you might expect some inconsistencies of tone and accent, and you get them in Burke & Hare, so nitpickers beware. But those who care less about such stuff than about being entertained will find plenty to like in this ghoulish comedy…” The New York Times, September 8, 2011

“The numerous cameos are worth noting (it’s nice to see Christopher Lee, Ray Harryhausen and Bill Bailey all in a film together) […] But the comedic timing and pacing just aren’t there, even with such a cast and seemingly ripe story for a good black comedy.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

“There were a few good laughs, but the feeling never left it that to make this more satisfying a darker style was really needed; nice try, but too silly to be top-notch.” The Spinning Image

Burke and Hare is a very droll movie. There are some clever moments, but no real laugh out loud ones. The best material is weighted towards the beginning of the film. Once Burke and Hare start selling corpses, the flick gets more tiresome as it goes on.” The Video Vacuum

” …by swinging between broad laughs and cheap pathos—Pegg’s specialities as an actor, apparently—while avoiding the more fertile ground between, Landis renders his Burke and Hare sociopolitically toothless and bizarrely insensitive. Maybe every generation just gets the Burke and Hare movie it deserves.” The Village Voice, September 7, 2011

Burke and Hare is a damning return for Ealing. It’s self-conscious and off-putting cameos ruin the film. Full of misjudged humour, mixing immature humour with overly mature gore makes this one not funny in the slightest.” We Got This Covered

Cast and characters:

Bill Bailey … Hangman
Tom Wilkinson … Doctor Robert Knox
Michael Smiley … Patterson
Tim Curry … Doctor Monro
Paul Davis … Patient
Christian Brassington … Charles
Gabrielle Downey … Mad Maggie
Stuart McQuarrie … Magistrate
Simon Pegg … William Burke
Andy Serkis … William Hare
Mike Goodenough … Aggrieved Customer
Jessica Hynes … Lucky
Robert Fyfe … Old Donald
Robert Willox … Gravediggers’ Bouncer
David Schofield … Fergus
David Hayman … Danny McTavish
Christopher Lee … Old Joseph
Ronnie Corbett … Captain Tam McLintoch
Ciaron Kelly … Private Fox
Reece Shearsmith … Sergeant Mackenzie
Joyce Henderson … Mrs McFie
Isla Fisher … Ginny Hawkins
Pollyanna McIntosh … Mary
Georgia King … Emma
Shelley Longworth … Hannah
Amanda Claire-Jones … Nicola (as Amanda Claire)
Allan Corduner … Nicephore
Steve Speirs … McMartin’s Doorman
George Potts … Doctor Lister
Duncan Duff … Attendant
Hugh Bonneville … Lord Harrington
Ray Harryhausen … Distinguished Doctor
Alan Munroe … Distinguished Doctor (as Sir Alan Munroe)
John Gaynor … Distinguished Doctor (as Dr John Gaynor)
Michael Wilson … Distinguished Doctor
Robert Paynter … Distinguished Doctor
Simon Farnaby … William Wordsworth
Tom Meeten … Samuel Coleridge
Paul Whitehouse … Gentleman Drunk
Michael Winner … Gentlemen Passenger
Tom Urie … Heart attack man
Ella Smith … Barmaid
Janet Whiteside … Old Woman
Jenny Agutter … Lucy
Robert Stone … Miss Clarissa Windsor
Max Landis … Handsome Coachman
Chris Obi … John Martin
Patricia Gibson-Howell … Mrs John Martin
Michael Billington … Medical Student
Stephen Merchant … Holyrood Footman

Technical details:

91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35: 1
Audio: Dolby Digital


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