Getting the inevitable comparison out of the way, Cockneys vs Zombies is cheaper, bloodier, and definitely more profane than Shaun of the Dead.
It might even make Edgar Wright's 2004 genre-bender look a little prissy. A lot of the credit for that goes to Alan (Brick Top) Ford for his grand performance as the terminally apoplectic hard-man Ray McGuire, a pensioner who has to take charge when his seniors home is invaded first by Yuppie developers and then flesh-eating ghouls (in that order, but I could be wrong).
That’s half the plot right there. The other half concerns the efforts of Ray’s slightly thick grandkids to make their way back to Bow Bells Rest Home after they emerge from a bank robbery (hostages in tow) and into one of those zombie apocalypses we keep hearing about.
There’s a welcome fuckload of splatter and bad attitude along the way, not to mention a zombie toddler getting punted against a wall, dead football hooligans stabbing each other, and an agreeably pointless reference to On the Buses.
It’s all vicious and funny enough to hose down the stink left behind by Warm Bodies (even the sentimental bits in Cockneys vs Zombies are spat through Ford’s clenched teeth), while the older farts among us can groove on a cast that includes Honor Blackman and a decrepit Dudley Sutton (The Devils), sitting in a wheelchair and getting his rhyming slang hopelessly wrong.
Then there’s the great Richard Briers, who was probably delighted to take on the role of lecherous 83-year-old Hamish after playing a cuddly middle class twerp in a sweater for his entire career.
Don’t expect too much in the way of allegory—London’s East End is a shithole with or without an infestation of flesh-eaters (and if you’ve ever eaten stewed eel in an East Ham pie shop, then you’ll probably side with the zombies). But we did note that the scariest character in the whole movie is a demented Iraq war veteran with a metal plate in his head.
You can probably imagine how that eventually figures into things.
Cockneys vs Zombies screens at the Scotiabank Theatre in Vancouver and Colossus in Langley as part of the Great Digital Film Festival, on Saturday and Sunday (February 2-3)