28 Days Later... | 2002
OK, they’re the ‘infected’, not ‘zombies’, but Danny Boyle’ s raging speedfreaks prove at least as scary as the usual clumsy lumberers.
The ‘Cambridge Primate Research Centre’, where activists release monkeys infected with the Rage virus, had to be filmed in Stuttgart, Germany, where one of only two troupes of suitable chimps was found.
The movie proper kicks off in London, where Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes from a coma to discover himself seemingly the sole inhabitant of the capital. The deserted hospital, clearly intended to be ‘St Thomas’, across the Thames from Westminster, is a mix of Central Middlesex Hospital, Acton Lane, NW10 and the closed Greenwich District Hospital, on Woolwich Road, Greenwich.
In an amazing feat of location shooting, early morning traffic was held up for brief moments over several days to capture awesome shots of an eerily empty city.
Jim crosses Westminster Bridge from the south bank toward the Houses of Parliament. Incidentally, it’s beneath the carved stone lion stone at the southern end of the bridge you’ll find the door that supposedly leads to the abandoned ‘Vauxhall Cross station’ – the HQ of MI6 in Die Another Day.
Walking up Whitehall, he passes an overturned red bus (to minimise disruption, the double-decker bus was deftly positioned and removed within 15 minutes). Whitehall, which is home to major government buildings, is usually the centre of major panics – though often only in brief second unit shots. Masked demonstrators march down the street in V For Vendetta, and in three Bond movies – A View To A Kill, Octopussy and Licence To Kill – 007’s HQ was the Old War Office Building. The entrance to the Ministry of Magic is, naturally, just off Whitehall in Harry Potter And The Order of The Phoenix and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1.
Jim trudges through Horseguards Parade, and up the Mall to the Duke of York’s Steps, where he finds now-useless money drifting about.
There's an odd detour into the City of London, the historic centre which is some way to the east, past the Bank of England and the old Royal Exchange, before Jim sets off a car alarm beneath Centre Point, at St Giles Circus on Tottenham Court Road. He begins to get an inkling of the catastrophe at the boarded-up ‘Eros’ fountain (more accurately, the Shaftesbury Monument Memorial Fountain) in Piccadilly Circus.
The graffiti-scrawled church entrance (“The end is extremely fucking nigh”) is Nicholas Hawksmoor’s St Anne’s Church, Commercial Road at Newell Street, Limehouse, where Jim is attacked by the raging priest.
Jim narrowly escapes a mob of the infected after a handful of survivors blow up a petrol station on the Isle of Dogs, the loop in the River Thames north of Greenwich, and most of the rest of the London filming is down in the southeast.
The vast steel escalators at Canary Wharf tube station lead down to the tracks of the Dockland Light Railway, and a trek to Deptford and the house of Jim's parents.
The tower block, which provides a temporary haven, was River Heights, on Glyndon Road, Plumstead, SE18. Due for demolition, it was pulled down shortly after filming.
The geography gets a bit wonky here, as the band stocks up on food at (now gone) Budgens supermarket, which stood at 145 Tottenham Court Road, back in the West End, before driving through the Blackwall Tunnel (running under the Thames) in order to reach Manchester, in the north.
The Blackwall entrance is real enough, but you can’t close down this main artery for long, and the rat pack fleeing the zombie horde was filmed in the much-newer Limehouse Link Tunnel, built to link the City with Docklands.
Supposedly heading up the M1, to Manchester, the fugitives enjoy a brief countryside idyll down in the southwest, at Waverley Abbey, near Farnham in Surrey. The first Cistercian abbey, dating from 1128, it’s now administered by English Heritage – and open to visit from April to September. You can see it again in Shekhar Kapur’s historical epic Elizabeth, The Golden Age, in Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz and as the home of Rapunzel in Rob Marshall's film of Stephen Sondheim's Into The Woods.
And, far from Manchester, the army HQ is Trafalgar Park, about five miles south of Salisbury in Wiltshire. The country house isn’t open to the public, but you can hire it for weddings or corporate events. You can see Trafalgar again in the 1995 film of Sense And Sensibility.