Movies: Burke and Hare **
(15A, general release)
Published 29/10/2010 | 05:00
The exploits of two serial killers who sold their victims' corpses for medical experiments might not sound like the stuff of comedy, but in John Landis' Burke and Hare a horrific true story is played for laughs.
Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis plays William Burke and William Hare, two Ulster-born miscreants who are finding it hard to make ends meet in early 19th-century Edinburgh when they hit on a novel money-making scheme.
The Scottish capital was then at the forefront of medical science, which meant that cadavers were at a premium. And after one of Hare's wife's lodgers dies unexpectantly, the pair succeed in selling the body to an eminent surgeon for the princely sum of £5.
Burke and Hare realise that they're on to a nice little earner, the only problem being that they can't find corpses quick enough. So naturally they start making their own.
Burke and Hare trade wisecracks as they choke the life out of their victims, but somehow none of it is funny. For this is a joyless, sombre mess, and a fine cast that includes Tom Wilkinson, Isla Fisher and Tim Curry conjure some of the most egregious Scots and Irish accents yet perpetrated onscreen.