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One might think this could be a Halloween film from its title and poster, but Martin Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Deadisn’t. I suppose it could double as a horror film depending on your viewpoint, but what couldn’t really?

Bringing Out the Dead follows two paramedics, Frank Pierce (Nicolas Cage) and his partner Larry (John Goodman), as they work their shift in New York City tending to all of the drunks, overdoses, crazies and legitimate patients in need. Frank is worn out, can’t sleep and wants to quit. He is a zombie and it is clear just by looking at him:

Frank is haunted by a young girl, Rose (Cynthia Roman), who died in his care. He sees her ghost walking the streets of New York, he sees her face on prostitutes as he drives by, sees her everywhere. Frank says “I used to block the bad calls out, I used to forget. But she wouldn’t let go, and now she’d come to bear witness for all of them, all that had been lost.” When he bonds with the daughter, Mary (Patricia Arquette), of a heart attack victim, his day changes even though he still deals with the craziness of the New York streets and their inhabitants. “All bodies leave their mark. You cannot be near the newly dead without feeling it.”

Mary (Patricia Arquette) and Frank (Nic Cage) talk about life and death.

Sadly, this is one the Scorsese’s most overlooked films and I can’t figure out why. Even Nicolas Cage is good in this one. The story is compelling, funny, sad and gross all at once. It features some great performances, in particular Tom Sizemore before he got on the crack, Ving Rhames and Cliff Curtis, one of the finest character actors out there (check out his work in Three KingsDanny Boyle‘s Sunshine and Whale Rider – all are amazing). As is typical Scorsese, the soundtrack is unbelievably awesome, filled with tunes from Van Morrison to The Clash to Martha & The Vandellas.

Here is the trailer:

Bringing Out the Dead is streaming on Netflix and available for rent from Amazon and iTunes.

Rise up, I-Be-Bangin’!