Despite the B-Movie title and fresh memories of the terrible Strippers vs Werewolves, the British zombie comedy film Cockneys vs Zombies is something of a pleasant surprise. Pitching itself in the Shaun of the Dead arena of horror comedy it unites a cast of young British talent including former Bionic Woman and Eastenders star Michelle Ryan with a host of famous older actors including Honor Blackman, Alan Ford and Richard Briers.
Brothers Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry(Rasmus Hardiker) are planning a bank job to get enough money to save their granddad’s retirement home. However during the job, a virus spreads quickly turning people into zombies. Enlisting the help of their cousin Katy (Ryan), the brothers must battle their way through the zombie-infested streets of the East End of London to reach their granddad Ray (Alan Ford) and rescue him and his friends Hamish (Briers), Peggy (Blackman), Daryl (Tony Selby) and Eric (Dudley Sutton).
It’s unusual to think that you could make a successful zombie-battling team from Pussy Galore from Goldfinger, Bricktop from Snatch, Sabalom Glitz from Doctor Who, Tom from The Good Life and Tinker from Lovejoy. Actually, maybe it’s not. Either way, the older stars provide a lot of the best comedy in Cockneys vs Zombies. Highlights include a race between a zombie (these are the Romero slow-moving type) and a man with a zimmer frame as well as a slew of expletives from Alan Ford for which Bricktop himself would be proud.
The young stars hold up their end of the zombie-fighting too and early flashbacks showing Terry always getting into trouble are some of the funniest in the whole film. Meanwhile Ashley Bashy Thomas gives a great turn as Mental Mickey, the unhinged lunatic with a metal plate in his head. However despite the overwhelmingly unexpected positives, Cockneys vs Zombies is not perfect. It treads ground too similarly to the aforementioned Shaun of the Dead, but never quite finds the balance in its main characters between likability and believability. Also, the final act is over-long and a bit directionless. Basically it becomes an idea that is stretched a little too far.
Considering its B-Movie roots and obviously low budget, Cockneys vs Zombies is a high concept, high-laugh, highly-fun romp of a film which goes to show that there is more to British film-making than classic period pieces, Danny Dyer films and grim realistic Northern dramas. Cockneys vs Zombies is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.