A site is being prepared for construction here in the East End of London which will see a lot of old properties demolished and expensive new ones put up in their place. One of those buildings due to be knocked down is this care home for the elderly, where the residents are none too happy about being uprooted from a location they have spent most of their lives in, and sent to various old folks' homes around the country instead. But you never know what'll happen next, as for example who could have predicted the construction workers uncovering a plague site from 1666 - with its own zombie?
If ever there was a case for telling it like it is, then Cockneys vs Zombies had it all in the title. A mishmash of two genres, the low budget gangster Britflick which had broken out like a rash over the previous few years on the industry - cheap, fast to make, guaranteed a profit from an audience who will watch anything with laddish humour and violence of unpretentious quality - was the part inspiration here. The other inspiration being the undead horror style - cheap, fast to make, guaranteed a profit, etc. - so combining the two would double the audience in theory. Yet as was the case with those shocker apocalypses, the virus was too powerful to contain, and before long the zombies were dominating.
Whether that was due to co-writer James Moran's liking for such things over the guns and geezers was a moot point, as there was plenty on starting out with this which suggested its unruly gang of bank robbers could have continued on their path to criminality and made a perfectly acceptable thriller in their own right. Crucially, however, it probably wouldn't have been half as interesting without its evil twin making an entrance, and besides, the two masterminds behind the robbery - brothers Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) - were doing it not for exclusively personal gain, but to help their grandad (Alan Ford) getting a place to live in the area so he didn't have to move North, away from his friends and familiar surroundings where he'd grown up.
They are assisted, if that's the right word, by cousin Katy (Michelle Ryan) who is more capable than any of them, dimwit friend Davey (Jack Doolan), and outright liability Mental Mickey (rapper Ashley Bashy Thomas) who has the can do attitude, but is also a complete psychopath with a metal plate in his head. However, once they get their hands on the unexpected bounty of the construction company's millions in wages, they find the police have been called so take a couple of hostages - sensible Emma (Georgia King) and officious idiot Clive (Tony Gardner) and emerge to face... an empty street. Yes, after all that pussyfooting around the zombies have attacked, and across town they're surrounding a group of venerable British thesps - can they get to the care home and save them?
If you ever wanted to see Richard Briers toting an Uzi 9mm then here was your chance as cartoonish violence ruled the day, what you wanted from your average, lighthearted flesheaters flick. Still, for all the scenes of them being shot in the head and biting chunks out of the cast there was a sincere theme of urban decay, and how we shouldn't dismiss the older generation when they made the area they live in what it is: Grandad has tried to instil a sense of morality in his family which has nearly worked. As the world goes to hell around them, this unlikely bunch of cross-generational allies offer a note of inspiration, though who the zombies were representing in this little metaphor was anyone's guess. Maybe just a general malaise in society. Although not hilarious, this was far better than the premise might suggest, with a neat turn of phrase (not only creative swearing) and a degree of tension to make up for the way it took itself a bit too seriously the further on it went. Great title sequence, too. Music by Jody Jenkins.