February 24, 2017


Burke and Hare – 2010 | 91 mins | Comedy | Colour


Plot Synopsis

Burke and Hare

Burke and Hare was a comedic take on the true story of the 1828 Edinburgh body-snatchers that veteran director John Landis optimistically envisaged to be in the classic tradition of the Ealing Studios’ Kind Hearts and Coronets and The Ladykillers. In truth, the only connection is the recently resuscitated West London studio as Landis’ black comedy is very much a mildly amusing hit-n-miss affair that range from subtle historical references to broad slapstick but remains a clumsy corpse farce lacking quality gags. Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis make a well-matched and likeable double act as hapless ne’er-do-wells desperate for cash. The real bad guys are the hissabe Tom Wilkinson and Tim Curry as devious doctors, Hugh Bonneville as the sleazy surgeon general and David Hayman as a well-heeled gangster. There’s also sterling support from a wealth of familiar British actors including Paul Whitehouse, Christopher Lee, Jenny Agutter, Bill Bailey, Jessica Hynes, Stephen Merchant and a memorable turn from Ronnie Corbett as an incensed pint-sized militia captain.

William Burke (Simon Pegg) and William Hare (Andy Serkis) are two Irish immigrants living in Edinburgh who discover that a dead body can fetch a hefty price from rival physicians Dr Knox (Tom Wilkinson) and Dr Monroe (Tim Curry). The two are soon scouting the city looking for the recently departed, but cadavers become thin on the ground. When the King announces a competition for advances in medical science, Burke and Hare decide to cater for Knox’s demand by finding poor unfortunates and ‘helping them along a bit’ and creating their own steady supply of fresh corpses. Meanwhile, Burke falls in love with singer Ginny Hawkins (Isla Fisher) and agrees to fund her all-female theatre production of Macbeth with his ill-gotten gains. The dastardly duos eerie entrepreneurial venture doesn’t go unnoticed and soon high-living gangster Danny McTavish (David Hayman) is demanding protection money, but when McTavish turns up as one of Knox’s dissected cadavers, pint-sized Captain McLintoch (Ronnie Corbett) of the Edinburgh militia begins closing in.

Production Team

John Landis: Director
Barnaby Thompson: Producer
Piers Ashworth: Script
Nick Moorcroft: Script


John Woodvine: Lord Provost
Stephen Merchant: Hollyrood Footman
Jenny Agutter: Lucy
Ray Harryhausen: Distinguished Doctor
Hugh Bonneville: Lord Harrington
Allan Corduner: Nicephore
Isla Fisher: Ginny Hawkins
Paul Whitehouse: Gentleman Drunk
Reece Shearsmith: Sergeant Mackenzie
Ronnie Corbett: Captain Tam McLintoch
Christopher Lee: Old Joseph
David Hayman: Danny McTavish
David Schofield: Fergus
Jessica Hynes: Lucky
Andy Serkis: William Hare
Simon Pegg: William Burke
Tim Curry: Doctor Monroe
Tom Wilkinson: Doctor Robert Knox
Bill Bailey: Hangman

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