Burke and Hare (2010) Poster

Burke and Hare (2010)

  • Rate: 6.1/10 total 7,189 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy | Thriller
  • Release Date: 9 September 2011 (USA)
  • Runtime: 91 min
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Burke and Hare (2010)

Burke and Hare 2010tt1320239.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: Burke and Hare (2010)
  • Rate: 6.1/10 total 7,189 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy | Thriller
  • Release Date: 9 September 2011 (USA)
  • Runtime: 91 min
  • Filming Location: Dashwood Mausoleum, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
  • Gross: $4,349,187(Worldwide)(15 September 2011)
  • Director: John Landis
  • Stars: Bill Bailey, Tom Wilkinson and Michael Smiley
  • Original Music By: Joby Talbot   
  • Soundtrack: Hallelujah Chorus
  • Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
  • Plot Keyword: Black Comedy | Murderer | Cameo | Angry Mob | Criminal

Writing Credits By:

    (in alphabetical order)

  • Piers Ashworth  screenplay
  • Nick Moorcroft  screenplay

Known Trivia

  • David Tennant was originally cast as William Hare but had to drop out shortly before filming began because NBC, for whom he had recently shot a TV pilot, declined to release him to shoot the film for fear of scheduling problems if the pilot was picked up early.
  • Both John Cleese and Dan Aykroyd were rumored for roles at one point.
  • Screenwriters Nick Moorcroft and Piers Ashworth wrote the film on spec and sold it to the head of Ealing Studios, Barnaby Thompson.
  • Actors Jenny Agutter, David Schofield and John Woodvine rejoin director John Landis after almost 30 years since they first collaborated on An American Werewolf in London.
  • The dog seen in the first Graveyard scene with Burke, Hare and the militia, is a reference to a famous Edinburgh story. Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier who in 19th-century Edinburgh spent 14 years returning to, and guarding the grave of his owner, John Gray. The movie accurately shows him as being a Skye Terrier and also shows his master’s name on the grave he guards, John Gray.
  • According to the ‘Edinburgh Evening News’ of 24 November 2008, Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor were being touted to play William Hare and William Burke in this film.
  • Director John Landis s first feature film in twelve to thirteen years, his previous had been Susan’s Plan.
  • The legendary Burke and Hare murders are also known as the West Port murders. The total number of deaths amounted to seventeen.
  • Dr Robert Knox is played in this film by Tom Wilkinson. In real life, his association with the Burke and Hare murders damaged his reputation and ruined his career.
  • In the scene outside of the university, before the meeting of Monro and Knox, there is a nod to Dan Aykroyd, who was originally rumored to be in the film. As the doctors are walking to the building, they all greet each other in the same fashion as in the “Doctor” scene in Spies Like Us.

Goofs: Anachronisms: On the opening shot of Edinburgh Castle, you can clearly see the spire of The Hub to the left of the screen. The Hub was not built until 1845. Also, The Hub is on the other side of the Castle from there.

Plot: A black comedy about two 19th century grave robbers who find a lucrative business providing cadavers for an Edinburgh medical school. Full summary »  »

Story: 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.Written by Anonymous  


Synopsis: The film opens in Edinburgh with a narration by Angus the Hangman (Bill Bailey), telling of how the corpses of those hanged by himself are transported to Dr Robert Knox (Tom Wilkinson) to dissect, while his rival Dr Alexander Monro (Tim Curry), who wants Knox’s job, is left to amputate body parts of living people. Just then, Monro’s assistant Charles Darwin (Christian Brassington) with a forged letter stating the allowance of the dead bodies to be transported to Monro’s castle to be dissected by himself instead. Angus is then left to tell Knox’s assistant, Patterson (Michael Smiley), that the bodies are now being given to Monro. Patterson delivers to message to Knox.

The film then switches to William Burke (Simon Pegg) and William Hare (Andy Serkis) attempting to sell cheese mould which they state is growing moss. When they are found out, they flee back to an Inn owned by Hare’s wife Lucky (Jessica Hynes), who states that one of their lodgers has died. Burke and Hare decide to transport the corpse to Knox. They are forced to break the corpse’s spine in order to fit inside the barrel. While on the way to Knox’s castle, they stop at a bar, and while there, a young woman, Helen McDougal (Isla Fisher) – under the name Ginny Hawkins – a former prostitute, attempts to attract the attention of everyone in the bar by doing an extract from the William Shakespeare play Macbeth. While everyone else in the bar take no notice Burke begins talking to Ginny and asks her why she did so. Ginny explains that it was her ambition to become an actress. While Burke and Ginny have a drink together, Hare tells Burke that they had better set of to Knox’s castle.

Burke and Hare arrive at Knox’s castle and present the now mangled corpse to Knox. Knox then agrees that if the pair bring him two bodies a week for dissection, he will pay them a large amount of money. While Burke sees this as his chance to help Ginny’s ambition of becoming an actress, Hare is content on using the money to open a funeral parlour. When Burke and Hare return to the Inn, they find Lucky drunk and nearly unconscious. Lucky explains why she is in that state as it is Joseph (Christopher Lee), another lodger at the Inn, is near death. Burke and Hare see this as their chance to make a start, before Joseph can die himself they suffocate him and take his body to Knox, who gives them both a large amount of money.

Burke and Hare share out the money, and Burke goes to find Ginny. Burke tells Ginny the good news, and she hugs him and allows him to take her home, while Hare goes to the bar where he meets Fergus (David Schofield), the suffering henchman of villain Danny McTavish (
Later, while Burke is leaving the bar after telling Ginny the good news, he is bundled into a horse carriage along with an already captured Hare, and comes face to face with McTavish and Fergus. McTavish explains that if Burke and Hare want to be kept alive, they must pay him half of the money they earn from Knox, and in exchange McTavish will provide them with protection. With their only option to agree, Burke and Hare are flung from the carriage while it is going through a wood. As Burke and Hare make their way back to the Inn, they begin coming up with plans of whom to kill each week.

As more and more people turn up dead, Lucky begins to get suspicious, as does the local law enforcement lead by Capt Tom McLintock ([link=nm0179196″>David Hayman), who visits Lord Harrington (Hugh Bonneville) and William Wordsworth (Simon Farnaby) and informs them. Harrington and Wordsworth give McLintock permission to hunt down the criminals and have them hanged.

Following this, Hare is once again kidnapped by McTavish, who orders both he and Fergus to hand over their money for protection. While Hare and Fergus look at each other, the scene snaps to the dissecting theatre, where McTavish’s corpse turns up for Knox to dissect. This causes outrage, and as Burke and Ginny’s auditions begin, Burke and Ginny are capture by McLintock while about to make love while Hare and Lucky are captured while having sex.

All of them are locked in different cells, and are informed that if one of them admits to the murders, the others will go free. Burke agrees to do so on one condition, that he is put in the same cell as Ginny so they can finally make love. This happens.

The following day, Burke awaits his hanging at the gallows. When Angus announces that if Burke has any last words he should say them now. Burke then states "Only this", before turning to look at Ginny in the crowd, and states "I did it for love", before he is hanged.

Angus then tells of how each character goes their separate ways, before the camera zooms up on the skeleton of Burke in a present day museum.


FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • James Atherton known as executive producer
  • Paul Brett known as executive producer
  • Alexandra Ferguson known as co-producer
  • Jan Pace known as executive producer
  • Tim Smith known as executive producer
  • James Spring known as executive producer
  • Barnaby Thompson known as producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Bill Bailey known as Hangman
  • Tom Wilkinson known as Doctor Robert Knox
  • Michael Smiley known as Patterson
  • Tim Curry known as Doctor Monro
  • Paul Davis known as Patient
  • Christian Brassington known as Charles
  • Gabrielle Downey known as Mad Maggie
  • Stuart McQuarrie known as Magistrate
  • Simon Pegg known as William Burke
  • Andy Serkis known as William Hare
  • Mike Goodenough known as Aggrieved Customer
  • Jessica Hynes known as Lucky
  • Robert Fyfe known as Old Donald
  • Robert Willox known as Gravediggers' Bouncer
  • David Schofield known as Fergus
  • David Hayman known as Danny McTavish
  • Christopher Lee known as Old Joseph
  • Ronnie Corbett known as Captain Tam McLintoch
  • Ciaron Kelly known as Private Fox
  • Reece Shearsmith known as Sergeant Mackenzie
  • Joyce Henderson known as Mrs. McFie
  • Isla Fisher known as Ginny Hawkins
  • Pollyanna McIntosh known as Mary
  • Georgia King known as Emma
  • Amanda Claire-Jones known as Nicola (as Amanda Claire)
  • Shelley Longworth known as Hannah
  • Allan Corduner known as Nicephore
  • Steve Speirs known as McMartin's Doorman
  • George Potts known as Doctor Lister
  • Duncan Duff known as Attendant
  • Hugh Bonneville known as Lord Harrington
  • Ray Harryhausen known as Distinguished Doctor
  • Alan Munroe known as Distinguished Doctor (as Sir Alan Munroe)
  • John Gaynor known as Distinguished Doctor (as Dr. John Gaynor)
  • Michael Wilson known as Distinguished Doctor
  • Robert Paynter known as Distinguished Doctor
  • Simon Farnaby known as William Wordsworth
  • Tom Meeten known as Samuel Coleridge
  • Paul Whitehouse known as Gentleman Drunk
  • Michael Winner known as Gentlemen Passenger
  • Ella Smith known as Barmaid
  • Janet Whiteside known as Old Woman
  • Jenny Agutter known as Lucy
  • Robert Stone known as Miss Clarissa Windsor
  • Max Landis known as Handsome Coachman
  • Christopher Obi known as John Martin (as Chris Obi)
  • Patricia Gibson-Howell known as Mrs. John Martin
  • Michael Billington known as Medical Student
  • Stephen Merchant known as Holyrood Footman
  • Jacob Edwards known as Hollyrood Courtier
  • John Woodvine known as Lord Provost
  • Billy Riddoch known as Rabble Rouser
  • Esme Thompson known as Nicephore's Girlfriend
  • Costa-Gavras known as French Family (as Costa Gavras)
  • Michèle Ray-Gavras known as French Family (as Michele Ray Gavras)
  • Romain Gavras known as French Family
  • Emmanuel Hamon known as French Family
  • Theo Hamon known as French Family
  • Dodger known as Greyfriars Bobby
  • Seamus known as Himself (as Seamus the Dog)
  • Guðmundur Auðunsson known as Thug #1 (uncredited)
  • Michelle Brooks known as Macbeth Girl (uncredited)
  • Christian Carroll known as Cowboy (uncredited)
  • Stephen Davies known as Man in Tavern (uncredited)
  • Joseph Dewey known as Medical Student (uncredited)
  • Darren Hammock known as Highland Soldier (uncredited)
  • Charli Janeway known as Medical Student (uncredited)
  • Johnny Lynch known as Oyster Trader (uncredited)
  • Chris Mansfield known as Stage hand (uncredited)
  • Ken Matthews known as The Boil Man (uncredited)
  • Joseph Andrew Mclean known as Medical Student (uncredited)
  • Henry Monk known as Medical Student (uncredited)
  • Nick Moorcroft known as Reporter (uncredited)
  • Pete Noakes known as Tanner (uncredited)
  • Spencer Noll known as Hamish (uncredited)
  • Gino Picciano known as Doctor (uncredited)
  • Nick Shaw known as Barman (uncredited)
  • Adam Smith known as Medical Student (uncredited)
  • Mark Smith known as Policeman (uncredited)
  • Tom Urie known as Obese man (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Sylvia Atkins known as junior make up artist: dailies
  • Helen Conroy known as junior makeup artist: dailies
  • David Andrew Dorling known as crowd hairdresser
  • Lucy Friend known as junior make up artist: dailies
  • Barrie Gower known as prosthetics supervisor
  • Soleil Jackson known as makeup trainee
  • Ailsa Lawson known as makeup work experience
  • Monica MacDonald known as make up artist: daily
  • Waldo Mason known as prosthetics supervisor
  • Chloe Meddings known as makeup artist
  • Andrew Simonin known as crowd hairdresser
  • Stephanie Lynne Smith known as daily makeup artist

Art Department:

  • Marshall Aver known as production buyer
  • Jo Berglund known as assistant buyer
  • Steve Bohan known as construction manager
  • Gary Crosby known as head painter
  • Matt Curtis known as title design
  • Kevin Day known as stand by props
  • Paul Duff known as chargehand carpenter
  • Colin H. Fraser known as construction manager: Scotland
  • Gavin Gordon known as carpenter
  • Peter Hallam known as property master
  • Felicity Hickson known as graphic artist
  • Douglas Ingram known as storyboard artist
  • Gary Jopling known as assistant art director
  • Andrew 'Fred' MacMillan known as props
  • Gary Martin known as props daily
  • Richard A. McCarthy known as supervising plasterer
  • Lisa McDiarmid known as stand-by art director
  • Michael Parkin known as props
  • Marco Anton Restivo known as assistant art director
  • Nic Stubbings known as stand-by props
  • Kristin Theyers known as props
  • Bill Thomas known as props
  • Dean Coldham known as plasterer (uncredited)
  • Rohan Harris known as scenic artist (uncredited)




Production Companies:

  • Ealing Studios (presents)
  • Fragile Films
  • Aegis Film Fund (in association with)
  • Prescience (in association with)
  • Quickfire Films (in association with)

Other Companies:

  • Anvil Post Production  sound re-recording
  • De Lane Lea  ADR recording
  • Dolby Laboratories  sound mix
  • HireWorks  Avid Unity Rental
  • Kodak  motion picture film supplier
  • Motion Picture Merchandise (MPM)  crew gift
  • Sands Films  costumier
  • Sapex Scripts  post-production script services
  • Scallywag Travel  travel agent
  • Technicolor  dailies
  • Technicolor  negative development
  • Technicolor  post-production facilities
  • Technicolor  release printing


  • Entertainment Film Distributors (2010) (UK) (theatrical)
  • IFC Films (2011) (USA) (theatrical)
  • La Fabrique 2 (2011) (France) (theatrical)
  • Maple Pictures (2010) (Canada) (theatrical)
  • Transmission (2010) (Australia) (theatrical)
  • Transmission (2010) (New Zealand) (theatrical)
  • A-Film Home Entertainment (2012) (Netherlands) (DVD)
  • Ascot Elite Home Entertainment (2011) (Germany) (DVD)
  • Ascot Elite Home Entertainment (2011) (Germany) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • Entertainment in Video (2011) (UK) (DVD)
  • Entertainment in Video (2011) (UK) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • MPI Home Video (2011) (USA) (DVD)
  • Odeon (2011) (Greece) (DVD)



Other Stuff

Special Effects:

  • BlueBolt
  • Matte Painting UK

Visual Effects by:

  • Lucy Ainsworth-Taylor known as Visual Effects Producer: BlueBolt
  • Angela Barson known as visual effects supervisor
  • Max Dennison known as matte painting supervisor: Matte Painting UK Ltd
  • Will Hudson known as digital restoration
  • Emma Hulme known as digital restoration
  • Markus Kuha known as lead compositor: BlueBolt
  • Matthew W.B. Plummer known as digital compositor: BlueBolt

Release Date:

  • Ireland 29 October 2010
  • UK 29 October 2010
  • Italy 25 February 2011
  • France 27 March 2011 (Alès Film Festival)
  • Germany 2 April 2011 (Munich Fantasy Filmfest)
  • Belgium 12 April 2011 (Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival)
  • France 23 April 2011 (Lyon Festival Hallucinations Collectives)
  • Germany 10 May 2011 (DVD premiere)
  • Russia 23 June 2011
  • Kazakhstan 30 June 2011
  • Canada 27 July 2011 (Fantasia Film Festival)
  • USA 5 August 2011 (Video On Demand)
  • France 31 August 2011
  • USA 9 September 2011
  • Sweden 26 October 2011 (DVD premiere)
  • Kuwait 17 November 2011
  • Argentina 15 February 2012 (DVD premiere)

MPAA: Rated R for some sexual content, disturbing images and language



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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