Title: Cockneys vs Zombies
Year Released: 2012
Director: Matthias Hoene
Cast: Georgia King, Michelle Ryan and Lee Asquith-Coe
REVIEW BY DARREN CHADWICK-HUSSEIN
Hilarious schlocky horror starring Michelle Ryan, Alan Ford, Harry Treadaway, Honor Blackman and the East End.
Two inept cockney brothers (Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker) and their cousin (Michelle Ryan) rob a bank in order to save their Grandad’s retirement home (The Bow Bells – it’s that Cockney) from developers. It all goes pearshaped but luckily a plague of zombies is unleashed at the same time. Now all they have to do is rescue Grandad (Alan Ford) and his fellow OAPs (including Honor Blackman and Richard Briers) from the shambolic hordes!
The trouble with the recent spate of British horror comedy is that the majority of them are just plain awful, neither delivering on the belly laughs nor developing enough menace to be frightening. I’m looking at you, Lesbian Vampire Killers. With this is mind I wasn’t expecting anything other than a bit of mindless gory trash to distract me from my popcorn when the lights went down and I wasn’t disappointed. However, this mashup of cockney heist and flesh-eaters is immensely satisying. The script, co-written by James Moran of Severance and Doctor Who fame, doesn’t waste a line. It is sharp and clever and peppered with inventive callbacks, the majority of which I can’t reveal for fear of spoiling it. And there’s enough bad language to make a navvy with Tourette’s blush, so granny may want to give this a miss.
Both the young and old cast play with conviction and you are genuinely concerned for their fates. There’s some great cameos and the rest of the cast are made up of familiar enough faces that’ll make you go ‘oh, it’s him from that show’ and ‘wasn’t she in…?’ Richard Briers is particularly memorable as a doddering old fogey with a zimmer frame, who in one hilarious sequence gets chased by a shuffling zombie. Alan Ford is probably the weakest link but he’s forgivable as he has to deliver purposely hammy Guy Ritchie-esque clichés. Honor Blackman with a rifle is a revelation.
The special effects and art direction are particularly effective in creating a decimated London where danger lurks around each corner but you can’t win them all as a few of the zombie deaths are a bit too CGI. Not enough to spoil your enjoyment but enough to merit a quick ‘oh pur-lease.’ And all in bright sunlight – no ‘darkness to hide the shoddiness’ here.
It will be forever compared to Shaun of the Dead, which is unfair. SOTD was a North London love song to George Romero, this is pure East End music hall dedicated to the schlocky fun of early Peter Jackson. Severe gorehounds may be disappointed as the camera tends to shy away from some of the nastier moments and there’s a few seconds of schmaltz but they don’t slow things down for long. There’s also a distinct lack of ‘Boo!’ moments but you’re too busy having fun to notice.
The zombies themselves are also fun and play on Eastender stereotypes; the pramface mum with her baby buggy is a highlight and the Millwall zombies battling the West Ham zombies is the best football hooligan fight ever committed to celluloid. The film also contains better use of a London bus than Cliff Richard could ever come up with.
Unless the distributors reconsider their frankly bizarre decision and give the film a general release, chances are you’ll have to wait for the DVD. And when it does come out, gather some friends around, open a few beers and have a good old-fashioned ‘Cor Blimey Guvnor’ night in.
And before you ask, Chas N Dave feature in the soundtrack.
DARREN CHADWICK-HUSSEIN is the writer/producer of The Bloody Mary Show, a British online horror comedy. Check out the website: http://www.bloodymaryshow.co.uk and you can follow on Facebook and Twitter