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Matthias Hoene Talks Cockneys vs. Zombies and More!

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Matthias Hoene Talks Cockneys vs. Zombies and More!Okay. You’re probably out there somewhere twiddling your thumbs and biding your time until the final installment of the Cornetto Blood & Ice Cream Trilogy (Edgar Wright’s The World’s End) arrives in theaters at summer’s end. But if you need a decent jolt of British wit and goofy horror this weekend…

…Matthias Hoene’s debut film, Cockneys vs. Zombies, should definitely hold you over in the meantime. I spoke with the director in New York last week, and here’s just some of what he had to say.

Dread Central: So, was Cockneys vs. Zombies always the title of the film?

Matthias Hoene: It was, yeah. At first we thought oh, it’s just a working title, but it sort of stuck. It is a “versus” title, but it felt appropriate for the film.

DC: The cockneys in the movie are kind of treated as second class citizens and obviously zombies are at the bottom of the totem pole as far as the social hierarchy, so why can’t they all just get along and coexist? You’d think they’d have some commonalities.

MH: (laughs) Well, maybe that’s for the sequel. They can make friends and make peace. This film… yeah, exactly, I guess what I wanted to do with Cockneys vs. Zombies was make a working class zombie movie. One that shows the underbelly of the criminals and the hustlers, not the posh, middle-class types that are often in British comedies.

DC: Obviously, the majority of the zombies are young. I hate the term hipster because I hear it all the time. but was that intentional to cast much younger people as zombies going after the elderly? Or is that just who showed up for the casting call?

MH: The zombies are mostly, actually, fans. and the truth is older actors don’t often want to be extras in a movie whereas younger people are more up for that sort of thing. It would have been nice to have a broader mix. We did have a couple of older, kind of pensioner zombies but it was quite difficult to organize. And there’s two hipster zombies specifically that I wanted to kill and did. And we have, like, hoodie zombies or hoodie kids. I did try to kind of represent every sort of part of East London culture in the zombies… and then kill them.

DC: It’s always kind of therapeutic. I think it works for the film though – the fact that they’re younger. Especially at the end when you have the speech about staying out of East End. It’s kind of a little bit of social commentary on gentrification.

MH: I’ve lived in East London for twelve years now and it’s such a beautiful place in terms of the old sort of culture. The old pubs and bars and restaurants that the Kray brothers and the old cockney gangsters used to hang out in and the jellied eels shops. And a lot of them are being torn down and redeveloped into new anonymous apartment complexes. So, it was sort of my love declaration to East London and we sort of weaved in those themes into the film in a subtle way. You know, at the end of the day there’s the evil developers who start the zombie outbreak who want to get rid of the cockneys.

DC: I’ve noticed in a lot of UK horror movies that they have more of an urge or a want to add some social commentary to horror movies. Do you think maybe it’s a lingering punk attitude that’s against the establishment a little bit? My dream would be to see the Sex Pistols in the late ‘70s be in A Hard Day’s Night with zombies. But do you think there’s something to that?

MH: Yeah, absolutely. For me, that’s one of the fun things about horror. Take those ideas and messages and say them without it sort of being labored. You just weave it into a horror plot and it’s fun. And I like those anti-establishment messages. There’s just no other way of saying those things apart from a horror movie.

DC: It’s got a great soundtrack, too, with a lot of post-punk tracks. The title song is “Monster” from Automatic, which has been around for a little while. Did you already know of that song? It seems like the perfect title song for the movie. It sounds like it was written for the movie almost.

MH: Yes, absolutely. That was the one I knew. That’s the first one we kind of picked up and got together. And then of course “Predict A Riot” by the Kaiser Chiefs …

DC: And you’ve got some Suede in there as well …

MH: Yeah, exactly… Suede. You know, Kaiser Chiefs watched the scene and let us have the track. I mean, we didn’t exactly have the budget to pay them properly but it was sort of great that they did that.

DC: Did you edit to those songs at all and did they kind of inform how the action scenes played out? Or do you usually edit to punk music?

MH: Actually, funnily enough I tried to get a lot more punk music in there than there is because it’s quite difficult to edit the film to proper punk because they’re often so full of energy. I tried to get slower versions of them written. We tried to get the Sex Pistols and all those sort of things. So, there was a little bit of back and forth but often you do edit to a track that, more often than not, doesn’t end up being the final track that already sets the mood and sets the tone.

DC: Out of curiosity, what was the Sex Pistols track? Was it maybe “Pretty Vacant”? That would be a good one for a zombie movie.

MH:(laughs) Yes, exactly. Exactly.

DC: I know the reference of an “Abercrombie zombie” in the film is more of a play off of the Cockney slang. We always think that those kind of accents are really accentuated and blown up a little bit too much, but you really do hear that kind of talk pretty often, don’t you? That kind of slang?

MH: Absolutely, absolutely. I tried to keep it relatively contained in this film. We didn’t go too slangy with it and try to make it sort of understandable to everyone basically. But yeah, cockneys do speak like that today. They like doing it.

DC: I liked the writing in that scene. How did you end up getting together with James Moran? I remember seeing Severance at Fantastic Fest in Austin a few years back and we had a lot of fun with it and I still recommend that film every once in a while. And that film has a little bit of commentary as well. It’s anti-war and against arms dealing and what not.

MH: Yeah, James always tries to weave in a little bit of that, of course. I’d seen Severance as well of course and um, we’d worked on something else before actually that didn’t go anywhere. But when I came up with the idea, James was the first writer at the top of my head and he wasn’t available for a half a year, unfortunately, because he was writing “Dr. Who” or some TV thing he was doing. So, I developed it with Lucas Roche, my editor. Just kind of a first draft, and then we got James on board to actually do a page one rewrite. But it was sort of interesting because there was some things structurally that developed in the first draft that held it tied together. The construction site with the bank and all those sort of things to make the genre mix of crime caper and zombie movie work. But James brought so much of his own quirky sense of humor to it which is amazing. His idea was the pension home, making it a pension home and making it pensioners which is one of the big things in the movie, really. That the zombies are slow but the pensioners in their wheelchairs and their walkers are even slower!

DC: It’s competitive.

MH: Exactly. To me, what was great working with him is that we tried to push ourselves to give the viewers as many things they had not seen before in a zombie film as possible. So, slow motion, zombie chases, and zombies with plates in their heads. And pensioners with machine guns!

Cockneys vs Zombies rolls its way into theaters today in limited release and onto DVD and Blu-ray September 3rd from Shout! Factory.

The film is written by James Moran (Severance) and details the story of a group of bank robbers who unlock a 350-year-old vault only to unleash an army of zombies.

Michelle Ryan (4.3.2.1.), Harry Treadaway (Control), Honor Blackman (Bridget Jones’ Diary), and Jack Doolan (Cemetery Junction) all star in Matthias Hoene’s feature Cockneys vs. Zombies.

Synopsis
Cockneys vs. Zombies is the story of Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker): two hapless cockney brothers who try to save their grandad’s (Alan Ford) care home by robbing a bank. At the same time a virus sweeps across East London, turning all the inhabitants into flesh-eating zombies. Faced with hordes of undead zombies, the challenge is to rescue a home full of tough old folks, escape with the loot, and get out of London alive!

n. pl. cock·ney or Cock·ney [kokni]
1. (Social Science / Peoples) (often capital) a native of London, esp of the working class born in the East End, speaking a characteristic dialect of English. Traditionally defined as someone born within the sound of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow church.

2. (Linguistics) the urban dialect of London or its East End for example “Dog and Bone = Phone”.

Matthias Hoene Talks Cockney's vs. Zombies and More!

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It

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Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow


It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

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Summary

Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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Carnivore: Werewolf of London Howls on VOD

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Joining the ranks of The Curse of the Werewolf, An American Werewolf in London, The Company of Wolves, and Dog Soldiers, Carnivore: Werewolf of London is the latest in a long series of fantastic British werewolf movies. Directed by Knights of the Damned’s Simon Wells, the film focuses on a couple trying to save their relationship by taking a vacation in a remote cottage, but rekindling their old flame soon proves to be the least of their worries as they learn that something with lots of fur and lots of teeth is waiting for them in the surrounding woods.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London stars Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, and Ethan Ruskin, and is available to purchase now on Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu, although it doesn’t appear to have received a physical release as of yet.

More information about Carnivore: Werewolf of London is available on the film’s official Facebook account, along with a ton of production photos.

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