Cockneys Vs Zombies

Director: Matthias Hoene (2012)
Starring: Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadway, Michelle Ryan
Find it: IMDB

What sounds like it should be one of the worst zombie movies ever takes an unexpected turn when it actually manages to be rather good. From the title and cast and Britishness alone, I had envisioned another Strippers vs Werewolves debacle, Dead Cert or Stag Night of the Dead. If there's one thing worse than low-budget British zombie movies, it's low-budget British zombie movies with gangsters thrown in for good measure. Especially when one of the gangsters is Billy Murray, as it inevitably always is.

Billy Murray is not in Cockneys vs Zombies, which is a good start. Instead there's another few ex-Eastenders (Paul Trueman and Zoe Slater, in case you care about that sort of thing, which you shouldn't), Richard Briers, an ex-Lock Stock boss, and Brian from off've My Parents are Aliens.


As a pair of would-be cockney wideboys attempt to rob a bank, an outbreak of the living dead breaks loose in Eastend London. Meanwhile, the boys' kinda gangster grandfather tries to keep the zombies at bay as they converge upon a local old folks' home. The bank heist story is diverting enough, but the real fun is in seeing the likes of Richard Briers, Honor Blackman and Dudley Sutton fighting zombies. The film's mileage might depend on just how hilarious you find the thought of old people swearing and shooting sub-machine guns, but it's far better than it had any right to be. It's perhaps the best homegrown zombie comedy since Shaun of the Dead.  

Some of the gags work better than others though, and Ashley Thomas's character is a pain in the arse. Michelle Ryan struggles to make much of an impact as Katy, feeling as though the director was trying too hard to make her seem cool and sexy. This fails as much as it did in Doctor Who, when they tried exactly the same trick. Rasmus Hardiker, Harry Treadway and the others fare much better, sharing a nice chemistry and general affability. Tony Gardner was Brian on My Parents are Aliens, so is therefore exempt from criticism. The late institution Richard Briers is fun too, getting in a few funny lines and a great chase scene. For all the gore and swearing, it's an unexpectedly heart-warming movie.

Cockneys vs Zombies should have been awful. It should have starred Billy Murray and Danny Dyer. It should have been unwatchable. Instead, it's funny, warm and sweet. It's well Robin Hood, innit.

Ahem. Excuse me, while I make a note to NEVER FUCKING DO THAT AGAIN.

The Evil Dead

Director: Sam Raimi (1981)
Starring: Bruce Campbell. Also, other people. But mostly The Campbell.
Find it: IMDB

It's one of my ambitions that I compile a set of reviews for the infamous video nasties as banned here in England during the 1980s: all 39 of them, eventually. That job is made all the easier when one of those so-called 'nasties' happens to be one of my favourite movies of all time. There's a personal reason for that, too: Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead has the dubious honour of being the very first 18-rated horror movie I ever saw on the big screen. (No, sharp-eyed readers and Myspace* stalkers, I'm not that old - but it was re-released uncut in 2002, to my cinematic delectation). Cherry, popped. I was fucking enchanted.

The plot is both simple and a modern horror staple (living on today in the likes of Cabin in the Woods and Cabin Fever). Four kids drive down to their hired woodland cabin for a weekend of drinking, smoking pot and (in the case of Bruce Campbell's Ash) surprise marriage proposals. Things become quickly complicated when they discover the Necronomicon Ex Mortis (roughly translated as The Book of the Dead) and an audio reel in the cabin's cellar. Upon playing the recording, they awaken some bloody evil spirits and find themselves beset by demonic possession, horrible hallucinations and rape twigs. Can they survive the night?

You'll not find a jot of criticism from me here. To me, The Evil Dead is the perfect horror movie. There are very few movies that I'd describe as 'perfect'. The others: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Wicker Man and Dead Man's Shoes. Although I'd been a fan of horror for some time before, I view The Evil Dead as a rite of passage; for years, my folks had been telling me how horrible and totally awful it was. And, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Exorcist I'd come to expect it to be something really explicit and horrendously bad. Of course it isn't. There's actually some comedy in there, inspired by the Three Stooges and the filmmakers' slapstick comedy influences. It shows. The sequels would up the comedy quotient, but this original piece gets the mix of horror and comedy just right. It was also my very first introduction to the cult genius that is Bruce Campbell.

It's an inspirational piece, one that shows the aspiring filmmaker the heights which can be achieved with relatively little. The making of The Evil Dead is one of my favourite rags-to-riches stories of all time. To me, The Evil Dead is far much more than just a horror movie. As we all know, Mary Whitehouse would come along shortly after its release and condemn it as evil and despicable and all kinds of horrible. Not bad, considering she never even bothered to watch the thing. Perhaps Raimi and chums should have hired her as their chief publicist. I don't doubt that her very vocal, criticisms helped in no small way to help The Evil Dead achieve even greater notoriety. Groovy indeed.

*Cultural reference

Guest Posters Sought

As some eagle-eyed readers may have noticed, this place has been going to the dogs lately. Updates few and far between, a lack of comments - frankly, fuck the Horror Review Hole. Seeing as I'm the sole proprietor and Porkhead here, the blame is entirely at my feet. But allow me to make some excuses: I got a day job, after six months or so of unemployment (my most productive six months in terms of writing and reviews) and a number of writing gigs elsewhere. While you can still find me writing at Starburst Magazine, HorrorTalk and HorrorNews on a very regular basis, that leaves the humble Horror Review Hole undermanned and unloved. 

And so, in an unprecedented move on my part, I'm putting out a call to arms; a cry for help. Do you speak English proper? Is you're spelling and grammar of a fairly decent level? Do you too abhor the words 'banter', 'lad' and overenthusiastic use of exclamation marks? Do you fucking love swearing? Are you talented, but not quite as talented as me? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, no, maybe, or no idea, then get in touch! I'm seeking guest posters and reviewers to pick up some of the slack when I'm too tired or simply can't be fucked to produce anything.   

The rules: you can review whatever you want, as long as it's horror or cult related, and I haven't done so before myself. You can review movies, books or videogames. You can even write an opinion piece (as long as it's not Nazi propaganda or an article about how great Adele is). I won't pay you, but you will get full credit and a link to your blog/facebook/myspace/home address or whatever else you want plugging. Original, interesting new voices are welcome. Don't be better than me though, because I'm still the star of the show, alright. 

Submit all enquiries to with an initial Paypal donation of at least £5.

9 Days: Whipped, Chained and Tortured by a Psychopath

Director: Samuel M. Johnson (2011)
Starring: Chris Schleicher, Maura Murphy, Simone Frajnd 
Find it: IMDB

Occasionally, being a horror fan who enjoys (probably not the right word) watching movies from the more extreme end of the spectrum, you have to balance your sucky taste in scary movies with family life. You don't want everyone thinking you're a psychopath, for example, because that sort of perception tends to prevent one from having friends, a job, girlfriend, or not being in prison. Generally I do a good job of not being seen as a complete psychopath. I keep my collection of ball gags somewhere they can't be found by snooping family members, always clear my Internet history and try to avoid saying things like "I really know where that Dexter fellow is coming from" in front of an audience. And then something like 9 Days comes along.

Bearing in mind that my Dad thinks I watch Snuff movies, the last thing I needed was Chemical Burn Entertainment coming along with their terrifying envelopes. "There's an envelope on the stairs," said my mother, as I arrived home from the day job last week (yes, I live with the folks at the moment - like a less well-dressed Howard Wolowitz). "And what's 9 Days?" I had no idea what 9 Days was. A white airmail envelope, as advertised, sat on the stairs. On it, a black sticker. On that black sticker was printed the words '9 DAYS: WHIPPED, CHAINED AND TORTURED BY A PSYCHOPATH.' With my name stickered next to it, thank you very much. Even dodgy fetish sites (so I'm told) have the good grace to send their kinky tickle videos (other fetishes are available) in unmarked envelopes (apparently) or even with a little fake company name printed on it (I'd imagine). Ahem, yeah, I think I got away with that one. Anyway, yeah, 9 DAYS: WHIPPED, CHAINED AND TORTURED BY A PSYCHOPATH does my "totally not a weirdo" protestations no favours. And never mind my parents, now the Postman carries protection (not a condom) whenever he comes to my door. Thanks a lot, Chemical Burn. And I don't think any of them believed me when I said, "no, right, it's actually an adaptation of Dante's Inferno!" 

Actual image from the movie.

Really, it is. On the run from her abusive foster father, Danielle (Murphy) hitches a ride with nerdy Virgil (Schleicher) who offers her a room for the night. Having apparently missed every single after school special about not getting into cars with strangers and definitely not going home with them, Danielle agrees. And yet she seems surprised when this edgy, bug-eyed creep breaks out the chloroform and locks her in his cellar. Virgil's plan: to 'cleanse' Danielle of her sins through the medium of torture (the least popular bath bomb in Lush) and his own verbal diarrhoea. It's like Martyrs crossed with Captivity, as made by someone who played Dante's Inferno once.   

A predictable, grimy torture movie, 9 Days is amateurish on most levels. The acting is particularly suspect, although Murphy garners some goodwill simply by not being co-star Schleicher (who actually is playing Howard Wolowitz). The torture scenes are unpleasant but not particularly memorable, the story old and overplayed. Kudos though, for the lack of rape. I had envisioned 9 Days being a veritable rape fest, so I was glad to be proven wrong there. It's no Divine Comedy, but it is amusing in places too.

Actual image from the movie.

As low-budget torture movies go, 9 Days isn't entirely without merit. It's cheap, amateurish and stupid, but it's also strangely watchable. Call off the Criminal Minds team Mother, 9 Days is not the film you expected it to be.