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Burke and Hare

Sponsored by: HMV

Canadian Premiere

Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare Burke and Hare

Hosted by Director John Landis who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award before the screening.

Official Selection, Rome International Film Festival 2010
Official Selection, Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 2011
Official Selection, Dallas International Film Festival 2011

Screening Times

"Highly entertaining" — TIME OUT

"Packed with the cream of British talent" — TOTAL FILM


Director: John Landis
Screenplay: Piers Ashworth, Nick Moorcroft
Cast: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry
Producers: Barnaby Thompson, Alexandra Ferguson
Print Source: Maple Pictures



“This is a true story, except for the parts that are not.” Fill that champagne flute with formaldehyde, my friends, because it’s time to celebrate. John Landis, the beloved filmmaker behind such classics as AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, THE BLUES BROTHERS and ANIMAL HOUSE, has returned to the genre with his first feature film in over 12 years. It’s a ghoulishly good time, complete with an unbelievable lead cast and appearances by everyone from Christopher Lee, Jenny Agutter and Stephen Merchant to Costa-Gavras and Ray Harryhausen!

A screwball comedic retelling of the notorious grave-robbing and murder spree that shook Edinburgh in the 1820s, Landis’s film opens with Irish immigrants William Burke (Simon Pegg!) and William Hare (Andy Serkis!) selling sham medicines to the sick in order to make ends meet. Getting wind of the news that the esteemed Dr. Knox (Tom Wilkinson!) is frustrated with the slim pickings of gallows cadavers for dissection, they take up a lucrative new trade: grave-robbing. But the good doctor soon grows unimpressed with the putrefying bounty the pair procures, insisting they bring him only the remains of those recently dead. Their search for the “recently dead” soon turns into one for the “nearly dead” as Burke and Hare become highly successful entrepreneurs with more than a little blood on their hands. Meanwhile, the lecherous Dr. Monroe (Tim Curry!) has plans of his own…

Making light of actual crimes is always a dicey prospect but Landis and his team pull it off here with contagious joy. This should come as no surprise — some of Landis’s best work has been in the realm of black comedy, exploring the humour in the horrible. Tackling the crimes of Burke and Hare, taking place in a setting and era right out of the filmmaker’s favourite Hammer horror classics no less, couldn’t go to a better-suited talent. And is this film ever a sight to behold, with period detail and gothic atmospherics that are nothing short of gorgeous. Sight gags, slapstick, straight-faced wordplay and deftly controlled kookiness are among the buffet of comedic stylings on display here. Pegg and Serkis make a perfect old-school comedy team, trading off one another’s energy with grace and flair. Tim Curry pulls out all the stops with a sneering performance that will remind the universe of what a gifted comic actor he is. This film is a charmer. Even the dead will crack a smile.

—Mitch Davis

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