FrightFest day one brings the laughs with the world premiere of Cockneys Vs. Zombies.
“What would you prefer? Being eaten by pigs or zombies?”
If there’s any question that sums up a FrightFest Q&A, it’s that one, posed at Alan Ford at the end of a lively Q&A following the screening of Matthias Hoene’s supremely entertaining Cockneys Vs. Zombies.
One of two world premieres taking place on the opening night of the 13th edition of FrightFest – read about the other world premiere The Seasoning House here – Cockneys Vs. Zombies is a zombie-comedy (a “zomedy” as Hoene likes to call it) set in a zombie-infested East End of London.
For Hoene, there was only ever going to be one place for his feature directorial debut to premiere, following five minutes of preview footage being brought to last year’s festival.
“I speak for everyone when I say we’re all really proud of the film. It’s a film that is made for you guys: the FrightFest audience. This is what we want to see in a movie and we all put it in the movie.”
As for how it came about, Hoene noted that he wanted “to have a protagonist in a horror film who never gets phased whatever you throw at them and would take any enemy in his stride.”
“I genuinely think if there’s a zombie outbreak in the East End, just go find Alan [Ford] and Michelle [Ryan] and stay behind them. If anything did kick off, we probably wouldn’t know about it because the cockneys would just sort it out before lunchtime,” added co-writer James Moran, who also wrote this year’s festival closer Tower Block.
When it came to writing the script, Moran stated that for one character, it was only ever going to be one actor. “It’s a dream come true: get Alan Ford in a film and throw a shitload of zombies at him and just laugh at the carnage that ensues. And if we can’t get Alan Ford, there’s really not much point. Honestly, we could have cast Alan and a bunch of non-English speaking Spaniards and it’d still be the most cockney film in the world.” (Ford has previously appeared in tough-guy films like The Long Good Friday and Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels.)
But for Moran, it was also crucial not to have the film mocking cockneys, resulting in a lot of prior research. “I read a lot of cockney autobiographies to try and get into that mindset of the older cockneys because there’s different sorts of slang that the young ones have, they’ll talk in different ways. I tried really hard to make it authentic in our silly zombie comedy movie.”
And if there’s one thing that endeared Hoene and Moran to the FrightFest crowd, it was their insistence on the use of slow zombies, drawing the biggest applause when asked about why they chose them. “They’re the classic and the only real zombie,” stated Hoene.
As for Ford and that taxing dilemma? “What a question… what would I prefer to be eaten by?! Well… pigs.”
Cockneys Vs. Zombies is out in the UK on Aug 31 through StudioCanal.