Cockneys vs Zombies had its Canadian premiere as part of Toronto After Dark’s Zombie Appreciation Night, which included a Q&A with its director Matthias Horne. Horne is a German who has spent the last decade living in London's East End, who apologised that the credits were so long but he wanted to mention all 800 zombies. Not a bad recommendation for a zombie film.
Horne gushed over some of the casting, especially the role of Peggy played by ex-Bond Girl Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore and Catherine Gale of the original Avengers TV series) who was 84 when this was filmed. He also talked about working with Alan Ford (playing retired gangster Ray Macguire) and Richard Briers (fellow retiree, Hamish), both well known English television actors.
This film’s action starts with the closing of an old folks' home and the steps gangster Ray Macguire’s grandkids will take to help him. Ray raised two of his grandkids, brothers Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker), after their parents died attacking the police. The brothers always remembered the last bit of advice their parents gave them: “Work hard, stick together as a family, and do what’s right,” clearly with varying definitions of ‘right.’ Given the family’s history, Andy and Terry, as well as their multi-skilled cousin Katy, played by Michelle Ryan ( Doctor Who’s Planet of the Dead), will do anything to save their granddad’s home, and the solution they come up with is a bank heist, then accidental hostage taking. "We saved for six months, then somebody nicked it," was provided as an explanation.
So Save Granddad is the mission, one that gets harder when a very rapid moving Zombie plague affects London’s East End. Note, it’s the plague that’s rapid, not the zombies, as one of the screen’s most epic chase scenes involves a zombie versus an octogenarian using a walker. The movie is full of many fun moments, including an iconic double-decker bus as a rescue vehicle, two groups of zombie footie team fans deciding that team loyalty trumps zombie loyalty and attacking each other, and Ray’s gleeful reaction to a duffle bag of weapons.
It’s a film about family – both blood with the Macguires and chosen with the residents of the home and one of the hostages. It’s a film about overcoming adversity, even with artificial hips. It’s a film about telling zombies to “Get the fuck out of my East End.” It’s a horror comedy worth watching.
COCKNEYS VS ZOMBIES was featured on October 20, 2012 as part of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.