When the nation is threatened by an undead uprising, what we need is Cockernees….
In a year which has seen the British Isles promote itself to the rest of the world like a manic whore beckoning clients during a powercut, it was inevitable that the British film industry would squeeze out a few efforts to take advantage of the “jube-olympics”. Few genres scream out easily exploited like zombie horror and, taking the prevailing wind of nationalism into consideration, then those loyal subjects of her majesty and major crime families, the cockneys, could also be re-animated like cheap Chinese crockery spray painted with a Union Jack for gullible patriots. Let’s face it, for all manner of reasons, both borderline acceptable and sickeningly wrong, Cockneys vs Zombies has a place in the world of the Mo-bot, parachuting monarchs and mop haired populists.Comedy though is a serious business and to attempt it without the proper precautions and thorough preparation puts us all at risk of near boredom and that unsettling creepy suspicion that we should be somewhere else, somewhere better, somewhere, you know.. funnier. So the people behind the film on show need to have taken care to address the following checklist:
1. Simple title and simple plot – check
2. Host of familiar faces doing “gawd luv a duck” voices – check
3. Minimal locations reducing production costs – check
4. Lots of Britishness; cue Double Decker bus – check
5. Competent direction, good FX, tense action, gags and dialogue – bugger, I knew I forgot something…
Still you can get away with a lot if you stamp the words “NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY” across your forehead and have enough charm to win over the reluctant viewer. And to give it its due, Cockneys Vs Zombies tries hard with a cast drawn from the backwaters of TV comedy and forgotten movies and a very basic plot line. The pitch is that the younger members of the Mcguire family take it on themselves to save Grandad (Alan Ford) from the indignity of having to move to a care home ooop north due to financial hard times. Their planned bank robbery hits the rocks and soon they are holed up surrounded first by Police and then the legions of the undead – how can they save Grandad if they can’t save themselves?
Within all of this, there are some winning bits of humour – a zombie who can’t be killed because of a metal plate in his head and a spectacularly slow chase between zimmer frame wielding Richard Briers and some of the undead. These moments suggest that so much more could have worked here if better decisions had got made. Examples of bad choices include Alan Ford given leading oldie actor status with actors the quality of Sutton, Briers and Blackman around him, and Michelle Ryan unable to display what a fine physical actress she is because of the limitations of the screenplay.
Still coming from a national industry which seems to think we all want more literary adaptations, bodice rippers and overboiled gangsters, this is at least closer to the entertainment we may want. I can’t begrudge any film that lets Richard Briers shoot an Uzi, so overall it’s a minor thumbs-up for the undead from Bow Bells.
It’s a region B locked BD 25 that Studio Canal offer the film up on. The transfer itself takes up almost 16GB and I wouldn’t describe the treatment here as very film-like. The image is slightly desaturated, meaning colours don’t pop or impress, and the film has an urban tone throughout. The result is naturalistic, lacks fine detail and won’t impress as a spectacle although is probably pretty accurate with respect to film-maker intentions.Sound comes with two lossless options. The master audio track does a decent job of covering the speakers with effects accurately distributed and music and dialogue clear and well reproduced. The mix isn’t particularly complex but it does a good job in the gunfights and chases. Sadly no subs are offered, making this a rare recent example of a UK disc which makes no effort to accommodate those with sensory impairment.
Trailers for this movies and other product are included, leaving two short featurettes on the film. The first is some interviews and on-set footage with film’s cast assuring us they are in the hands of a genius director and having a laugh. The latter is a short teach yourself Zombie video sent to extras to ensure they shambled and lumbered as required.
I can’t imagine this film is a keeper for anyone, but the competent presentation on this release will make it a confident rental for those wanting to find out if there is a second joke here apart from the title.
It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…
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