For better or worse (mostly worse), the depths of the zombie genre haven’t been drained yet. Low-budget and major Hollywood productions alike continue to milk the still-popular genre, with mixed results. Matthias Hoene’s not-so-subtly titled film Cockney’s vs. Zombies takes the zombie hordes to London’s gritty East End, where locals aren’t about to take their flesh eating bullshit. As one salty geezer explains, if the Blitz didn’t kill them, neither will zombies. The film maintains a tongue-in-cheek attitude throughout and never tries to be more than it is: an excuse to graphically exterminate masses of the undead. With plenty of colorful Cockney language mixed in, of course.
The faint traces of social commentary are concerned with the dissolution of the old East End and its way of life to make way for upscale apartments for yuppie scum. This is addressed early, when the film opens on a busy construction site, where an obnoxious billboard promotes the “Luxury Living in the Heart of East London.” Two of the workers uncover a tomb that reads “Sealed by King Charles in 1666” – the year of the Great Plague of London. That’s the definition of foreboding. So the two goofs enter the tomb in search of riches and instead unleash the zombie horde in a scene as silly as it is downright creepy.
Meanwhile, young brothers Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) and Andy (Harry Treadaway) are across town gearing up for a poorly planned bank robbery. These small-time hoodlums aren’t doing it for the money, but for the noble cause of preventing the retirement home where their dear old grandpa resides from being razed. For their scheme, the brothers are joined by their cousin and an infamous loose cannon known for head-butting people to a pulp.
Their robbery coincides with the zombie outbreak and while most of the East End is consumed by the horde, the brothers and their cohorts survive thanks to their heavy arsenal, courtesy of the head-butt guy. What follows is your standard zombie entertainment – namely, a shit ton of bloody body parts and exploding torsos. The action continues at the old folks home, where the brothers arm the stalwart, geriatric residents. The old timers are led by Alan Ford, best known in the U.S. as Brick Top from Snatch. He’s a geezer through and through and exudes the type of no-nonsense badassery the real East End is infamous for (check out the documentary The End for proof).
As a vibrant display of gore and cracking one-liners, Cockneys vs. Zombies delivers. There are some terrific visual gags as well, including a chase between zombies and a helpless old man in a walker. Also, this may be the first film to address the problem of zombie infants. Thanks to these genuinely funny moments and clever kills, a lot of the film feels surprisingly refreshing. It’s fun and the cast is terrific, just don’t go in expecting another Shaun of the Dead. This film is only interested in one thing: living up to its title, which it certainly does.
Cockneys vs. Zombies is presented in 1080p HD in 2.35:1. The film was shot on digital, so it’s no surprise that it looks crisp as hell. Details are fantastic and the bleak landscapes of the East End are bathed in bright red zombie blood. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio is a vivid mix with smart channeling. The majority of zombie shuffles and moans are confined to the rear channels, leaving the action free and clear.
Audio Commentary with Director Matthias Hoene: the director delivers a wicked informative audio track, covering all of the technical aspects of the film.
Audio Commentary with Writer James Moran: this is more light-hearted track.
Behind the Scenes: this exhaustive eight-part features covers everything from casting the brothers to the elaborate kills.
Deleted Scenes: nine deleted scenes are presented, with optional commentary. Nothing really juicy here.
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