Cockneys vs. Zombies on paper has all the makings of a cheap cash-in horror comedy. Much in the same vein as Strippers vs. Werewolves, Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus and Ninjas vs. Vampires. However, on screen it’s much more than the silly sum of its decaying parts, thanks to the cast and the self aware script that seems determined to throw in every cockney cliché ever found in the east end.
The film and the zombie outbreak both start on a building site. Here some unfortunate builders uncover a tomb from 1666, full of the bubonic living dead.
As the plague spreads, brothers Andy and Terry (played by Harry Treadaway and Rasmus Hardiker) are unaware. They’re more concerned with the immediate problems on their plate, which are: raising money to save the old people’s home that houses their grandad (played by the king of sweating Alan Ford).
Deciding a bank robbery is their only option, the dopey duo team up with their cousin Katy (played by Eastenders Michelle Ryan), an idiot mate, Davy (Jack Doolan) and mental, metal head-case, Mental Mickey (Ashley Bashy Thomas). Mickey provides the guns and gung-ho attitude to get them in the bank and later, into a lot of trouble.
Luckily for the group, the police and the whole of London has a bigger, bite-ier problem on its hands. A zombie virus has spread and the east end is locked down. The gormless gang, now towing two hostages, finally realise the gravity of the gory situation and decide to head to the old peoples home before escaping London and save the wrinklies. All before they become the walking dead.
As previously mentioned, Cockneys vs. Zombies revels in its own ridiculousness. The fun script penned by James Moran and Lucas Roche makes sure that the story includes every east end truism and motif it can – from rhyming slang to insane swearing; from pearly kings and ‘knees up mother brown’ to old time; from gangland villains made good to London buses as escape vehicles and zombie football hooligans still fighting each other, even after death.
In embracing entirely what it is rather than attempting to innovate, Cockneys vs. Zombies is a much better movie and a whole lot more fun. It’s full of one liners, comedy flash-backs and graphic visual gags’ including one character drop-kicking a zombie baby onto a ‘target violenc’e billboard.
The other element that elevates it above other comedy horrors is the older members of the cast. Rather than playing pointless cameos, they share plenty of screen time, saving the audience from the younger characters who can quite frankly become a bit boring and unconvincing at times.
Apart from Ford, who is on top form, a ‘best of British’ line-up sets Honor Blackman, Tony Gardner, Dudley Sutton and Richard Briers tooled up, toting sawn-offs and shooting the living dead right in their ‘brown breads’ (that’s ‘heads’ by the way). It’s all epic fun and an interesting change from the usual heroes of the genre.
Director Matthias Hoene delivers a visual orgy of guns and gore with some great effects and plenty of action. The characters display the British bulldog spirit and plenty of zombies are shown doing what zombies do best – which is killing people, keeping the film pacy and packed with fun.
As crazy as the Krays on crack; as fun as a Pearly Queen on a piss-up; and as disgusting as a pot of cockles and mussels, Cockneys vs. Zombies gives you exactly what it says in the title, and a bit more besides.