Directed By: Matthias Hoene
Starring: Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadaway, Michelle Ryan
Tag line: "The undead are brown bread "
Trivia: Premiered at the 2012 London FrightFest Film Festival
A zombie comedy set in the heart of London? How could you not draw comparisons between director Matthias Hoene’s Cockneys vs. Zombies and 2004’s Shaun of the Dead? But with its bank robbery subplot and profanity-laced dialogue, Cockneys vs. Zombies has as much in common with the early films of Guy Ritchie as it does Edgar Wright’s comedy gem.
To save the retirement home where their granddad (Alan Ford) lives, which is scheduled to be closed in two weeks, brothers Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) and Andy (Harry Treadway) stage a daring bank robbery, hoping to steal enough cash to buy back the home from the corrupt land developers who purchased it. With the help of their cousin, Katy (Michelle Ryan), petty thief Davey (Jack Dioolan) and the psychotic Mickey (Ashley Thomas), the heist goes surprisingly well. Unfortunately, while they’re inside ripping off the bank, the outside world is being overrun by zombies, which have laid claim to the entire East End of London. Hoping to rescue their Granddad and his friends, Terry and Andy try to make their way through the hordes of walking dead, doing everything they can to reach the retirement home before the zombies do.
Aside from featuring actors who appeared in Guy Ritchie’s first two films (Dexter Fletcher, who played Soap in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, makes a cameo appearance as Terry’s and Andy’s father, while the always entertaining Alan Ford, aka Brick Top in Snatch, is at his hard-nosed best as the brother’s ever-resourceful Granddad), Cockneys Vs. Zombies also boasts a number of colorful criminals; Cousin Katy, played so well by Michelle Ryan, always speaks her mind, while Mickey, an Iraqi war vet with a metal plate in his skull, is so completely unhinged that you never know what he’s going to do next (The first time we meet him, he rams his head into the hood of Terry’s car, leaving a nasty dent in it). All this, along with some witty dialogue and a handful of fast-paced flashback sequences, had me believing Cockneys vs. Zombies took place in a world very similar to the ones found in Lock Stock, Snatch, or even RocknRolla.
Of course, what differentiates it from Ritchie’s crime movies are the zombies, which turn up in the first scene (two construction workers unearth a crypt sealed during the reign of King Charles II, inside which are corpses, hundreds of years old, some of which are still alive). Much like the Romero zombies, the living dead in Cockneys vs. Zombies move extremely slow (in one of the funnier sequences, an elderly man with a walker is being pursued by a number of zombies, resulting in a most unusual chase). What’s more, the scenes in which our heroes face off against the living dead are gloriously gory, with some of the film’s violent images evoking a few laughs as well (when one character is bitten on the arm by a zombie, another shoots the creatures head clean off, leaving nothing behind but its mouth, still clamped shut on its potential victim’s arm).
Aside from a few weaknesses, including CGI blood spurts that look incredibly phony, Cockneys vs. Zombies is a wild and crazy crime / horror movie with a hell of a lot of personality.