Making A Killing With Burke & Hare

Making A Killing With Burke & Hare

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
BURKE & HARE (Blu-ray)
Entertainment Films

Release date: February 21st 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 91 minutes

Director: John Landis

Written by: Nick Moorcoft and Barnaby Thompson

Cast: Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Isla Fisher, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry, Ronnie Corbett, Paul Whitehouse and Christopher Lee

Exclusive John Landis Interview

The idea of turning two mass murderers from the 19th century into comedy characters might not sound like a great idea at first, but once you add John Landis, Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis to the mix, it starts to get a lot funnier!

Inspired by the real-life events which took place in Edinburgh between November 1827 and 31 October 1828, Burke & Hare is the story of two Irish immigrants, William Burke (Simon Pegg) and William Hare (Andy Serkis) who try one unsuccessful business venture after the next in hope of making a better life for themselves. After spotting a niche in the market to supply fresh dead bodies to anatomy lecturer, Doctor Knox (Tom Wilkinson), for dissection at Burke & HareEdinburgh Medical College, they set about making sure there are enough supplies to meet his demands.

Along the way, Burke falls in love with Ginny (Isla Fisher), an aspiring actress who wants to put on an all-female production of Macbeth. In order to win her affections, Burke finances her play with costumes and lavish sets but Ginny has no idea where the money is coming from. Hare’s wife, Lucky (Jessica Hynes), on the other hand knows exactly where the money came from because she’s as much of an entrepreneur as her husband!


Cast & Crew Interviews:

  • Simon Pegg (9.31)
  • Andy Serkis (7.11)
  • Isla Fisher (4.03)
  • Jessica Hynes (6.39)
  • Tom Wilkinson (3.42)
  • Tim Curry (4.36)
  • Ronnie Corbett (1.58)
  • Christopher Lee (3.02)
  • John Landis (12.44)
  • Barnaby Thompson (4.28)
  • Nick Moorcroft (1.58)

Deleted Scenes (10.52):

  • Extended Opening
  • Not your Usual Executioner
  • Ungrateful Swine
  • Body In The Barrel Extended
  • Burkes In A Chinashop
  • Money Back Guarantee
  • An Opportunity
  • Knox’s End Of Terms Speech
  • 1828’s Answer To The Paparazzi
  • Nicephore Complains

Outtakes (.2.18)

Although this is the 8th screen outing for the Burke & Hare story it’s the first time they are portrayed as likeable characters. The story chooses instead to focus more on the friendship between these two guys would live and die for each other, although there is much room for the hilarious and gruesome acts they commit. It’s also a film which harks back to the days of the old Ealing Studios dark comedies like Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and The Ladykillers (1955), films which director John Landis has always been very fond of.

Burke & Hare, with its slapstick story is incredibly funny and deviously enjoyable with a cast who bring the characters to life (and death!).

Burke & Hare

The Blu-ray release contains a lot of interviews and deleted scenes along with a nice gag reel although the picture quality and graphics are not really up to Blu-ray standards. Still, it’s a nice collection of extras and even includes Sir Christopher Lee talking about getting a call from Landis to do 1 day’s work! What is notably missing is a documentary about the real-life Burke & Hare as it would be a great opportunity for those not familiar with their crimes and punishment to learn how the real story differs from the one presented here.

“Up the close and down the stair
But and ben with Burke and Hare,
Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief
Knox the boy that buys the beef.”
—19th century Edinburgh verse about Burke & Hare
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