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Cockneys vs Zombies

2012 | 88 min | BBFC: 15 | 2.39:1

Cockneys vs Zombies


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Theatrical release date

 02 August, 2013
 31 August, 2012

Country of origin

 United Kingdom



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Screenshots from Cockneys vs. Zombies Blu-ray

Cockneys vs Zombies Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, August 1, 2013

The miracle of “Shaun of the Dead” has cast a long shadow on the British filmmaking scene, especially any production that dares to touch the balance of horror and comedy concerning the plague of the undead. That “Cockneys vs. Zombies” is a blood-splattered delight isn’t a shock, but how the picture manages to find a personality of its own while treading on the same battleground of genre highlights as “Shaun” turns out to be a major surprise. Silly, gory, and always on the go, “Cockneys vs. Zombies” is an entertaining romp with nitwits and monsters, keeping to the essentials of makeshift warfare while preserving all the necessary funny business. All that’s missing from the effort is a translator for American audiences.

Planning a bank heist to provide financial aid for their tough-as-nails grandfather, Ray (a scene-stealing Alan Ford), brothers Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) and Andy (Luke Treadaway) are preparing for a major crime, gathering assistance from the likes of Katy (Michelle Ryan) and madman Mental Mickey (Ashley Thomas). While undertaking the robbery, a zombie outbreak hits the East End of London, leaving the crew and their two hostages overwhelmed to see the undead crowding the streets. Furiously working out the origins of the nightmare, the team suits up for battle, arming themselves with whatever they can find, blasting their way to safety as the threat increases. Across town, Ray and residents at a retirement center, including Peggy (Honor Blackman), decide to stand their ground as well, holing up inside a corner of the complex, attempting to map out a plan of escape.

There’s nothing particularly profound about “Cockneys vs. Zombies,” with the title itself promising a minor-league affair that’s self-aware and aiming to please. Director Matthias Hoene secures a freewheeling tone right from the start, introducing us to the origins of the zombie outbreak (a plague pit from the 1600s cracked open during a construction site dig) and the initial bank heist plans of Andy and Terry as they try to agree on a getaway van. The main characters aren’t the brightest bulbs, introduced as well-meaning idiots taking drastic measures to help their grandfather, yet Hoene leans into the stupidity, having a ball dreaming up situations of confusion as these determined few stumble into a hot zone of zombie activity, working with a prior knowledge of the enemy gathered from cinema. It’s a ragtag group with a myriad of strengths, establishing “Cockneys vs. Zombies” as a flesh-chewing festival with vibrant personalities to follow, boosted by marvelous performances.

There’s a pronounced sense of humor to the screenplay, watching the team monitor the glacial lurch of the zombies. Even the seniors can out-shuffle these ghouls, with a few inspired visual gags concerning the slowness of the stalking, with much of the retirement facility subplot instigating big laughs as these infirmed few struggle to warn fellow residents of the invasion, while Ray, a proud WWII vet, feels the charge of combat once again. The younger characters are embroiled in a far more complicated scheme, keeping hostages while the world falls apart around them, finding Mental Mickey blasting through waves of the undead, even slaughtering a zombie mid-bite, a surefire death sentence that’s managed with unexpected patience by the script. “Cockneys vs. Zombies” works diligently to sustain a simple premise with showdowns and punchlines, maintaining finger-snap banter steeped in a dialect that’s confusing to alien ears, especially anything concerning rhyming slang, which even baffles other characters. That the production is so defiantly East End is refreshing, preserving local flavors while creating a bloody mess on familiar territory. There are big laughs during the movie, but its distinct attitude is what ultimately makes the feature click.

Gore zone visits are impressive for a film clearly managing a low budget. Make-up work is gruesome, helping to generate amusing zombie kills, sustaining a horror vibe to a picture that’s perfectly happy cracking wise with overwhelmed characters. Originality isn’t a priority for the effort, but entertainment is, creating a cheeky but gnarly endeavor that’s screwball in all the right ways. After all, it’s not every day one finds a movie that showcases Honor Blackman (the legendary Pussy Galore from “Goldfinger”) blasting away the undead with a machine gun. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Starring: Georgia King, Honor Blackman, Michelle Ryan, Alan Ford, Harry Treadaway, Richard Briers

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