Opening in select Cineplex theaters across Canada for two shows only, as part of Cineplex’s ‘Great Digital Film Festival’ starting this Friday Feb 1, 2013, is the horror comedy that made a huge splash at last year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival Cockneys vs Zombies. The Movie Junkie was able to sit down with director Matthias Hoene to talk about his film, his influences and whether the Cockneys will make a return to the big screen.
Movie Junkie (MJ) – Hello Matthias, I must say I really enjoyed your film. Can you tell us about some of your biggest influences in putting the film together?
Matthias Hoene (MH) – Well the journey started when a friend of mine slipped me a grubby, slightly dodgy copy, of Peter Jackson’s Braindead. I snuck it into the VHS player after my parents had gone to bed, and sat in the living room watching it on my own and it really blew my mind away. What I loved about it was it was so gory, the goriest film I’d ever seen, probably still one of the goriest out there, yet so funny at the same time. It was full of heartfelt character work and story at its core, it really had a big impact on me and it’s exactly my sense of humor. Dark, twisted, action-packed filmmaking but with a heart to it. Evil Dead 2 I loved as well as it had many similar themes. Some of the other influences come from Aliens, Terminator and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Delicatessen to name just a few.
MJ – Wow, that’s a great story. I have to ask you where the idea of using a care home (elderly nursing home) in the film came from, as it’s a brilliant setting and Alan Ford almost steals the show!
MH – Well it came from the idea that we needed something for our young heroes to fight for and to not feel selfish, we wanted them to rob a bank for a reason and the care home seemed a fit great in that a) it symbolizes the old guard of the cockneys slowly being pushed out of east London and old cockney culture disappearing out of London and b) the idea of the zombies being slow and the pensioners being even slower. I loved that idea and felt it was a really good hook for a zombie film and I hoped it would give the film its own place and feel, unique in tone and voice.
MJ – It certainly does separate itself from the pack, especially with the elderly Cockneys as our protagonists. That said my favorite character may have been the demented and insane Mental Mickey played by Ashley Bashy Thomas. Where did this character come from and how did you come about casting Thomas?
MH – With the Mental Mickey part we could have cast the stereotypical east London thug, but we decided we couldn’t do that and tried something different. We found Ashley who is a really handsome straight up, doesn’t drink only eats chicken and no red meat, wholesome kind of guy. He’s a great actor, he’s already been in a couple of movies before, and when we watched him we noticed he really has a lot of charisma. After casting, I spoke to him in the costume session and said ‘Ashley I want to take you to a really dark and twisted place, are you going to be cool with that?” He looked at me and said “You just made my day Matthias” and we created this character. We wanted something really iconic, he was supposed to be the unstoppable zombie, the zombie with a steel plate in his head that you can’t shoot, can’t kill. We put a scar on the side of his head and gave him unbranded clothes, like he just picked something out of the dumpster and put it on, this shifty character. He went quite crazy with his performance and I thought either people will hate or love this cause it’s crazy and off the hook. I also like that he’s so different in this film than anything else he’s been in.
MJ – Like I said before, I am a big fan of the performance. One of the standout parts of the film is the set pieces and what you would describe as the ‘kills’. The production looks slick and is certainly inventive, how were you able to pull off a look that looks anything but low budget?
MH – Thank you very much. First off we had six weeks of shooting, which is a lot for a low budget film, and all the credit and thanks must go to the producers for making that happen. Some set pieces we would spend half a day on, just to get a 4-second shot, like the zombie flying out the back of the van. We rehearsed and made sure it was really well choreographed and safe as it’s always kind of scary when you do an action movie as injuries will happen. But even though it’s a scary process we were really keen to have those moments, and personally I would have loved to have even more because I’m greedy and as a director we always want more. I tried to make sure we had enough balance between the comedy, character moments and the action moments. Every day on set was a huge challenge with choreographing in terms of 6 to 10 lead actors and 40 background extras with prosthetic work on all of them. Along with staging some gun fighting and other action staging with half a day to do it, every day was intense and it felt like I was on a big movie set and had to be super decisive to make sure it got done. But that’s what film making is about, making choices and then going through with it. I had a great time though; I love the energy and adrenaline of a short shooting schedule.
MJ – It certainly sounds like you guys had a hectic yet fun set to work on. So tell me Matthias, will we be seeing the Cockneys in another big screen romp?
MH – We’ve had conversations about sequels but you know I love the idea of making this unique and making it a one off. While I support original ideas and new movies I can recognize the need for sequels and remakes in terms of marketing and awareness. I feel we should fight for original movies, and I personally think unless it’s an amazing idea why not keep it a one off. Cockney’s vs Vampires I could see, Werewolves I can see as well but that would have to have a bigger budget to really make it work visually. I think Vampires would be cheaper effects and makeup-wise but werewolves would be more expensive, and we are not going to do Aliens!
MJ – As much as I would love to see these characters back on screen again, I can completely concur and get behind the notion of the film being one of a kind. So what’s on tap next?
MH – Well I’m developing a science fiction story in Los Angeles called Capsule, it’s a high concept sci-fi thriller but that’s all I’m saying for now. I’m also developing a fantasy movie with the some of the producers of Harry Potter movies, Heyday films, and I’m developing an occult thriller set in Africa which I love as a setting for a horror movie. Africa hasn’t been really been shown that much on the cinema screen, in a horror/thriller context, and when I was in Africa a few years ago the texture and characters and the ritualistic magic that has been woven there got me thinking. All those things have great potential for a story and there’s something there that is unique and should be experienced on cinema screens.
For more information on Cineplex’s ‘Great Digital Film Festival’ and the theaters participating check out the event page here.
Till Next Time
Movie Junkie TO
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