Burke And Hare

Synopsis: Based on the true story about the famous murderers, 'Burke And Hare' follows the hapless exploits of these two men as they fall into the highly profitable business of providing cadavers for the medical fraternity in Nineteenth Century Edinburgh, then the centre of medical learning. The one thing they were short of was bodies.
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Director(s): John Landis
Production: IFC Films
  1 nomination.
Rotten Tomatoes:
91 min

Welcome to bonnie Scotland.

It is the year of Our Lord 1828.

And this is where I work,

the market square in Edinburgh,

our capital city.

They're calling this

the Scottish Enlightenment.


You could have fooled me.

I mean,

look at the state ofthem.

The only people round here

looking to be enlightened

are the medical students.

They come to study

at the feet of our famous doctors.

Edinburgh is the medical capital

ofthe world.

Get yourselves

an education there, lads.

On one side ofthe city,

you have Barclay's School of Anatomy,

And that's run by the esteemed surgeon

Doctor Robert Knox.

Now some say that he's the finest

surgeon in all of Scotland.

All I can say about Doctor Knox

is that he dresses well.

Quite the dandy.

Ah, there's nothing like starting off

a new term with a fresh corpse.

-- Is there, Patterson?

-- Indeed, sir.

Today I think I shall commence

by removing the top ofthe cranium.

It will certainly give the freshmen

something to write home about.

And on the other side ofthe city...

you've got Scotland's

Royal College of Surgeons.

And that's run

by Professor Alexander Monro.


how do you put it?


That would be an artery.

Anyway, you'll have to excuse me

for a wee moment, ladies and gentlemen.

It's... show time.

Maggie O'Donnell ofthe West Port,

also known as Mad Maggie.

You are convicted ofthe heinous crimes

of thievery,

prostitution, public drunkenness,

and a bad attitude.

Do you have anything to say

before you are consigned to hell?


Only that I hope it's as hot down

there as they say it is!

You see, you can only teach anatomy

by cutting up people's bodies.

And the law ofthe land says

you can only cut up bodies

of people like Mad Maggie here,

the recently deceased.

So we sell them

to the highest bidder.

But now, Professor Monro,

the swine,

has used his influence

to pass a new city by law.

Where's the body, Angus?

But we had an arrangement.

Professor Monro at the Royal College

gets all the bodies now.

Now when the demand for

a certain commodity exceeds supply,

it creates a business opportunity

just waiting for the right kind

of clever entrepreneurs to step in.

Ladies and gentlemen, gather round!

Gather round!

My name is William Burke.

Like many of you,

my colleague Mr. Hare and I

came to this land looking for work.

We've dug canals, we've built roads,

we've started a new life.

But none of us has forgotten that

Emerald Isle from which we came.

That mystical land where a man--

- - Get to the bloody point, Willy.

- - Right, sorry.

In the County of Donegal,

on the highest, greenest slopes,

there grows a certain moss

which any educated person will tell you

cures all known afflictions.

The smallest cut,

ladies and gentlemen,

can let in poisons from the earth

and the air,

and before you know it,

your very brain starts to boil.

But a touch ofthe moss from the hills

of Donegal, ladies and gentlemen,

and it's gone in a flash.

A boil appears.

You pay it no mind.

But suddenly there's a second!

And a third!

And before you know it,

the sufferings of Job are upon you!

A wart, madam.

Starts off small, doesn't it?

But without a touch ofthe moss,

it can grow as big as your head!

This is never moss.

It's cheese mould.

They're a pair of confidence men!

You bastards!

Fetch a constable!


Gentlemen, the Lord created

the heavens and the earth.

But His greatest work,

His most perfect creation is Man.

The study of human anatomy,


is nothing less than a direct insight

into the mind of God.


I give you the human form...

in all its glory.

Jesus Christ!

I've a very,

very good explanation, sir.

Well, Patterson?

Let's hear this very,

very good explanation.

Not content with butchering

his own patients,

Monro has now taken

to using political influence

to hinder the advancement

of medical science.

Beggars can't be choosers, sir.

I had to take the only one that

Resurrectionist McTavish had left.

That's the third rotter I've had

from McTavish and his gang

of grave robbers

in the last three weeks.

I can't go on like this.

Is there anything I can do,


You could start praying, Patterson,

for the one thing that could save us.

And what's that, sir?

An enormous and awful calamity

right here in Edinburgh.

An accident or a--

or a natural disaster.

Something which generates the large

numbers of cadavers I need for my work.

Wouldn't that be nice, sir?

Yes, Patterson.

It would be nice.

You told your wife

you was gonna get a job.

You lied.

An economy with the truth, Willy,

isn't the same as a flat-out lie.

And you think Lucky's

gonna grasp that distinction?

She's not exactly

a forgiving woman.

I'll not hear a bad word

said against her.

All right.

I'll grant you she's had her problems

with the bottle,

but she's fighting her demons.

Besides she's bound to be

in high spirits.

-- It's rent day for Old Donald.

-- Ah!

Ah, ya see?

Within every cloud,

there's a silver lining.

Where's the money you owe us,

Mr. Hare?!

I know this looks bad, love,

but there's a good explanation.

You see, Willy here came up

with this fantastic new product.

-- Donegal moss.

-- It started off a roaring success.

Aye, for a while it looked as though

all our troubles were over.

Jesus, what's that smell?

Er, it was an accident.

You're a lazy good-for-nothing,

William Hare.

We're flat-out broke.

What about Old Donald's rent money?

- He's dead.

-- Dead.

-- Dead!

- What do you mean "dead"?

I mean deceased.

He stopped living and died.

So he didn't pay his rent, then?

Are you telling us Old Donald

is dead?

As a doornail.

So my suggestion is that you sort

yourselves out

and get rid ofthe body

before it starts to stink up the place

more than you two.

How are we supposed to do that?

Use your imagination, William.

It's about all you're good for

these days.

That's not working.

-- Right, now push his right leg down.

-- It won't go!

-- Gonna have to break his back.

-- What?!

Well, it's either that,

or we chop his legs off.

I know a building site in the New Town.

We can dump him there.

No problem at all.

-- Don't know about this, William.

-- It'll be a piece of cake.

-- It's only another mile or so.

-- Only another mile or so?

Let's stop over there, William.

This is thirsty work.

Right, get it up.

Watch your language,

you f*** in' son-of-a-b*tch bastard!

What are we gonna do, William?

There's no more canals to dig.

Don't you worry, Willy.

I have got all kinds of ideas.

Aye, but no money to speak of.

No plan.

Just enough money

for one last dram.

I'll drink to that.

-- Couple of large ones, Eileen.

-- Right away.


How's business?

Never better, Fergus.

What about you?

Diversifying is what we're doing.

Mr. McTavish has moved into gambling,

opium distribution and...

pimping whores.

We've gone legitimate.

So no more digging up graves,

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Piers Ashworth

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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