They say a good horror film is one that leaves you smiling: a belief enforced by Cockneys Vs Zombies, the Brit comedy frightfest from director Matthias Hoene, starring (and I’m not joking) the iconic Richard Briers and Honor Blackman. After watching it you’ll be screaming with laughter, as this is one of the freshest, most irreverent and side splittingly funny comedies, as well as one of the goriest, you’ll see this year.
Determined to help their grandfather Ray (Alan Ford) and his friends whose old folks retirement home is being closed and the land it’s on redeveloped by a large property company, Terry (Rasimus Hardiker), his brother Andy (Harry Tredaway) and their cousin Katy (Michelle Ryan), decided to do what any loving grandchildren would – they rob a bank of two and a half million pounds. With the money they hope to pay for a new start for Ray and the other old dears.
Elsewhere something nasty has been uncovered by some building constructors (the same who have just bought Ray and co out of house and home) on a new site they are clearing in London’s East End – something that is now infecting anyone who is stands in its way. Unfortunately for Ray, his friends and his ne’er-do-well off-spring, they are doing just that, the inevitable confrontation leading to a very bloody showdown.
Cockneys Vs Zombies is one of the best, most original, laugh-out-loud films, to come along for some time. The advantage many small scale British films have over their American, big studio counterparts, is that they can do whatever they like without anyone breathing down their necks or demanding the direction the film should take. As a result you get something like this – a totally fresh take on the somewhat tired zombie theme, good gory fun in a totally non-pc way that many American films could never hope to get away with. Where else would you find a group of OAP’s beating the heads in of a horde of flesh eating zombies or, as happens at one point, a young man drop kicking a zombie baby and splattering it against an advertising hoarding.
There is so much that could be said about this film – from it’s authentic use of East London locations to some of the most realistic, stomach ripping, gore effects since Shaun of the Dead (2004) – but I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment. Suffice to say that I’m extremely jealous I can’t see it again for the first time.
Though the cast as a whole sparkle in their ‘diamond geezer’ roles, it must surely be British acting legends Briers and Blackman who steal the show every time they walk (or in the case of Briers) shuffle on screen. They are brilliant and completely unexpected, particularly in the scene with Briers, a Zimmer frame and a zombie (you’ll know it when you see it) which is excruciatingly funny, whilst the image of the usually refined Blackman toting a sawn-off shotgun and shouting “let’s get those &^+%@!” will remain indelibly seared on your memory.
The one small (considering the age we live in) downside is the film’s prolific use of expletive strewn language throughout. Now I’m no prude, and realise language like this is commonplace and not just in London’s East End. However I do think a few less profanities would have displayed a more imaginative grasp of the English language.
But I’m quibbling, and otherwise adored this insane schlock. Cockneys Vs Zombies may not be remembered as a classic of British cinema, but it’s certainly more fun than many pretentious films out there (horror included) which take themselves way too seriously.