Director – Matthew Mitchell, Screenplay – Matthew Mitchell & Taliesyn Mitchell, Producer – Clare Pearce, Photography – Jamie Burr, Music – Simon Woodgate, Digital Effects – Stuart Cohen. Production Company – LMV Productions.
Vincent Jerome (Q), Huggy Lever (Tony), Fabrizio Santino (Crazy Steve), Cassandra Orhan (Cassie), Charlie Rawes (Muscles), Frank Rizzo (Pat), Jennie Latham (Grandma), Simon Mathews (Danny)
Six men flee in a van with the proceeds of a bank robbery. One of the group Danny has been shot and lies bleeding in the back of the van. All around them, London succumbs to the zombie apocalypse and they must make their way out of the city past the zombie hordes. The leader Tony decides the only option is for them to travel to a safehouse at a secret location in the countryside. However, the journey becomes perilous when they run out of gas and there is nowhere safe to refuel.
The zombie genre underwent a huge revival in the mid-2000s with hits like Resident Evil (2002), 28 Days Later (2002), Dawn of the Dead (2004) and Shaun of the Dead (2004). However, this soon revealed that the zombie film only had a limited number of plots available to it. Filmmakers responded by mashing zombies up with other genres and ridiculous title collusions in the likes of Zombie Beach Party (2003), Dorm of the Dead (2006), Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006), Zombie Cheerleader Camp (2007), Zombie Strippers! (2008), Attack of the Vegan Zombies! (2009), Stag Night of the Dead (2009), Big Tits Zombie (2010), Santa Claus vs. the Zombies (2010), Bong of the Dead (2011), Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies (2014), Zombeavers (2014), Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies (2016), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) and Fat Ass Zombies (2020), among others. (For a more detailed overview of the genre see Zombie Films).
The idea behind Gangsters, Guns and Zombies is the amusing one of mashing up the British gangster film as patented by Guy Ritchie – see Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), Snatch. (2000), Revolver (2005) and RocknRolla (2008) – with the zombie genre. The idea has a certain appeal and indeed also formed the basis of Cockneys vs Zombies (2012) that came out the same year.
On the other hand, Matthew Mitchell fails to quite make it work. For one, he doesn’t do enough to mimic the distinctiveness of Ritchie’s wry tough guy characters. We get a bunch of gangsters in the midst of a caper who are all characterised by an individual quirk (sort of), although most of these soon get forgotten and you just end up with a bunch of squabbling, slightly inept criminals. There is no playing them off each other in Ritchie’s kinetically over-the-top style, nor much in the way of twists and turns. Mitchell has also set out to engage in the gonzo genre mash-up but somehow forgets the comedy elements. In fact, bar the occasional quirk, Gangsters, Guns and Zombies could mostly play out as a regular zombie film.
By very dint of the fact that we spend 90 minutes with these characters, they eventually settle in with a certain amiability. Things perk up with the introduction of Cassandra Orhan, who becomes a love interest, and her shotgun-wielding grandmother Jennie Latham. It passes along as an average zombie entry, even at times almost approaches the not bad, but most be considered unmemorable overall.
Gangsters, Guns and Zombies was a directorial debut for British director Matt Mitchell who has subsequently stayed in horror territory with the likes of It Never Sleeps (2014), The Rizen (2017) and The Rizen: Possession (2019).