After previous legendary face-offs from Freddy vs Jason to Alien vs Predator turned out to be more let downs than smack downs, you could be forgiven for not getting your hopes up over Cockneys vs Zombies. But beneath the silly title lies a wonderfully daft little film that more than rivals Shaun of the Dead for quirky British comedy featuring scores of the undead.
Brothers Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) and Andy Maguire (Harry Treadaway) decide to rob a bank in the hopes of raising money to save their Granddad Ray’s (Alan Ford) care home from being bulldozed. So they rope in a motley crew of cockneys to help them half inch the loot; Mental Micky (Ashley Bashy Thomas) brings the guns and has a metal plate in his head, Davey Tuppence (Jack Doolan) wants to clear his debts and Katy (Michelle Ryan) is the brothers’ cousin who just wants to make sure they don’t get themselves arrested or killed. When the robbery gets botched and the police are waiting outside the bank for them, the zombie apocalypse seems to have started at just the right time for them to make their escape. Now the race is on to save Ray and his pensioner mates from the care home before the zombies get in.
With the focus less on rom-zom-com and more on um… cock-zom-com, the men take the front seat in driving the action, from gun toting bank robberies and double-decker bus driving, to zombie massacring with all sorts of weaponry. Hardiker and Treadaway make a good-natured double act whose close bond extends to their extended family. Michelle Ryan’s Katy gets to slice and dice, while Georgia King’s Emma plays sweet and silly but delivers a brief bit of genuine heart to the film. And Honor Blackman (Goldfinger, TV’s The Avengers) as one of the pensioners trapped in the care home with Ray gets to pack an Uzi just like the rest of the cast. In fact all of the pensioners really get to grips with the guns in the action packed climax, making this an equal opportunities showdown that includes all ages.
Alan Ford’s filthy mouth and imitable delivery steals the movie away from the youngsters by the end but he is left with too little to do for much of the mid-section. When his rough old geezer finally gets tooled up with some hardware, the promise of the title is fully delivered. But along the way there are frequently great gags, ranging from child drop-kicking to Zimmer frame chasing. All the cockney bravado raises constant sniggers as the characters get to repeatedly call zombies ‘mugs’ and the fear of these born and bred cockney pensioners of being relocated ‘up north’ is more fearsome than any zombie apocalypse.
The make up and effects are highly impressive and even stretch to a decimated London landscape in many shots. Hordes of zombies appear from around every corner, littering the East End streets with a fairly spectacular sense of scale in some scenes considering the low budget. The gore is liberally applied with zombies being dispatched in several delightfully inventive ways. From grenades to samurai swords, this film has something for any zombie fan. Like many other comedy horrors, it fails to raise much in the way of nail-biting suspense but the writing is witty, the special effects are brilliant, and the characters will win your hearts by the end. It aims to deliver on gore and laughs and succeeds amiably at both.
From the striking animated opening credits to the transitions and occasional split screens, it is a cleverly crafted and impressive vision of an infested London, and an overall visual triumph. Director Matthias Hoene and writer James Moran are both Brits to watch out for in the future. The premise may be similar and sillier than Shaun of the Dead, but there is much fresh meat to chew on and all involved in the film’s production have brought a great bit of comedy horror back to Britain without treading on Shaun’s toes.
Extras include a great induction video shown to the zombie extras on how to get the movements and mannerisms of the shuffling, moaning creatures just right. This is a great one to watch before you get dressed up for your next Halloween party. A series of short behind the scenes videos is also included on the disc but the emphasis here is on ‘short’. Broken down into a look at specific scenes, there are a lot of talking heads from the cast but the more interesting sections take brief looks at the special effects and the filmmakers. A trailer is also included.
Cockneys and Zombies is available to buy on Blu-ray and DVD from today, October 22nd.