Evil – In the Time of Heroes/To Kako – Stin Epohi ton Iroon (2009)
Meletis Georgiadis (Meletis), Argiris Thanasoulas (Argyris), Pepi Moschovakou (Marina), Mairi Tsoni (Jenny), Andreas Kontopoulos (Lieutenant Vakirtzis), Billy Zane (Prophitis), Hristos Byros (Kyr-Kostas), Ionna Papa (Vicky), Eftyhia Yakoumi (Olga), Drosos Skotis (Mageiras)
“Legend says that the circle will run its course. What remains hidden will appear once more. Three thousand years evil waits for the time to resurface. But the legend speaks also for the men of the prophecy: the hero that once was and the hero that shall be.” – Text crawl.
“My name is Argyris and I am, or rather I was, a taxi driver. Shit! What can I tell you, that things went bad? They did! That I’m impaled on a pipe? I am! The thing is that three days ago everything changed. A mysterious force was released and it turned people into ravenous beasts. They were not human anymore and there weren’t many that got away. Meletis, Marina, Jenny, and that crazy Lieutenant Vakirtzis; those are the ones that I met. Great people all of them. I didn’t do bad myself but in the end i think I was too overconfident. Yup, not bad at all considering this was just my first time to die.” – Argyris, opening narration.
While Evil didn’t really have enough of anything to make it a must-see movie, it had a certain sense of fun about it that was so infectious that it has brought viewers like myself back to it numerous times. It’s clear that the movie was made on the cheap but there’s a good amount of competence to it and the love of films like Evil Dead and Dawn of the Dead are apparent in every frame. With a budget of about $600,000 more than the original director Giorgios Nousias has made a movie that lives up to the promise of the first. I can’t summarize this movie without spoiling the end of the first one so go watch it if you really can’t accept spoilers in your life.
After a brief prologue where we see a similar zombie outbreak in Ancient Greece, then a brief narration from Argyris where he implies that his death at the end of the first movie is about to be undone, we rejoin our final four survivors from the previous film in a reshot version of the ending of the first movie. They run into a soccer stadium as millions (now reduced to a few scattered hundred) of ravenous zombies rush into kill them. A black screen appears telling us that time has elapsed and our heroes emerge from the stadium soaked in blood.
They grab an abandoned car and speed across town only to get into a bloody wreck when a sniper shoots out their tire. Suddenly they’re under fire as a strange man with a mohawk approaches them and tells them it’s not safe. The sniper is one of a group of people who are killing anyone who happens by just for the fun of it. Lt. Vakirtzis, who has just died of a broken neck but shakes it off by cracking his neck, thus returning the very obvious broken bone back into place, returns fire to help the others escape and then outruns a rifle bullet in slow motion and escapes. We now jump back in time nearly three thousand years to Ancient Greece as Billy Zane sits and ponders the trajectory of his career.
We watch as a Greek hoplite who we saw die at the beginning of the movie returns from the dead, not as a zombie but as a human once more. Billy Zane explains that he is a chosen one meant to stop the evil and save the world. Wait… does that mean that…? We’ll get to that in a minute, right now our modern-day survivors are going to the home of Greek Adrien Brody.
After meeting a new group of survivors they find Argyris, strangely unharmed despite the fact that he was left impaled on a water pipe at the end of the first movie. Arygyris has no memory of dying, only of waking up and finding everyone gone. This is tabled for a while as Vakirtzis and Olga, another soldier in the Greek army who is with the new group of survivors, sneak up to the rooftops to get the drop on the marauders who are shooting innocent bystanders. They succeed in ambushing the marauders but the leader of the group reveals that he knows Vakirtzis, causing a flashback where he was rude to him when he stole his parking space and made welcome sexual advances to the soldier’s mother (Vakirtzis’ mother is played by the same actor in a wig) and this distraction enables the marauders to get the upper hand, causing our heroes to retreat for the time being.
The next day Meletis and a handful of survivors set out to find a way out of the city and discover that the zombies are confined to Greece and that the country will be bombed with toxic gas in less than a day. Their only hope is to get on a boat leaving the country before then. But there’s something else, Billy Zane’s mysterious ninja wizard shows up in modern time and informs Argyris that he is the chosen one who can stop the evil and he already knows what to do if he can stop being such a stupid douche. So Argyris decides to be a hero.
Right out the gate this movie fixes nearly all the problems I had with the first film. It has a direction, it has a plot, the characters have a goal and aren’t just wandering around aimlessly. Now all of these people have stories and interactions and there’s real drama that actually works quite well. Even character beats that are revisited from the first film, like Meletis’ story of having to kill off his zombified wife and daughter carry a weight that they didn’t in the prior movie. The cinematography is much clearer, much more polished, and the horrible jerky cam is only seen briefly in the final battle at the film’s end.
Evil in the Time of Heroes is very much the Evil Dead 2 to Evil’s Evil Dead. While the original had its screwball moments, this one brings them to a more prominent focus. We have weird physical comedy like a joke involving a frying pan used to bludgeon a zombie as the wielder tries to protect the fried eggs contained within that seems to be out of an Edgar Wright film, there’s a running gag where Vakirtzis practices screaming like a psychopath and has the ability to completely remove every speck of blood from himself by slicking his hair back and grinning.
The part that doesn’t really work is Argyris. I liked Argyris in the first movie and he’s the same lovable perverted manchild here, but he doesn’t have much to do with the plot until the whole chosen one angle is revealed. Evil Dead 2 smartly made Ash the key focus when he was rotated in from dweeby sidekick to badass hero in the second movie but Argyris has even less to do here than he did in the first Evil.
Argyris has a few good moments and once we get to the finale he’s got a pretty great scene where he discovers he has some sort of telekinetic powers but he’s largely peripheral with Vakirtzis, Argyris’ father Mr. Kostas, and Greek Adrien Brody serving as the key comedic characters and everyone else being played completely straight. We’ve got three plots going on (four if you count the brief flashes back to Ancient Greece as hoplites fight zombies) and Argyris’ chosen status probably should get some more screen time, the same goes for Billy Zane’s character.
Though very unlikely, I would like to see a third movie that involves Argyris taken back in time to fight the evil in Ancient Greece like Army of Darkness. I feel the character could really shine in a world that really isn’t accustomed to his bullshit. Even without the financial crisis the possibility of another sequel is and isn’t murky, spoilers ahead, as at the end we see the bombers rush into gas all of Greece even though the zombies are gone, yet Argyris’ narration implies there is more to come and Varkirtzis vanshes in a flash of light seeming to indicate that he’s going somewhere. Is there a reason he can jump hundreds of feet into the air and land safely?
As before, the gore effects are really good but with a much larger budget there’s a lot more than there already was. The zombie fighting scenes are still incredibly over-the-top and silly: blood flies, heads are sliced off, it’s gloriously gruesome. The gags are inventive and numerous and probably more frequent than any movie I’ve see aside from Dead-Alive. Even the brief splashes of digital blood don’t detract from the glory on display. There’s also some really solid fight choreography involved in this movie, aside from the final confrontation there’s a real visual storytelling quality to these scenes.
The film is a tad clunky, all the plots don’t quite lock together and at times the tone goes from light to dark so fast it feels like you might get whiplash. I really could’ve done with some more information on what exactly the evil is, a lot more Ancient Greece stuff (those scenes are especially well-done), and a lot more Billy Zane (he’s an underrated actor and his character is really cool.) But largely Evil in the Time of Heroes is everything I want from this sort of movie. It’s bloody, it’s dark, it’s goofy, and it’s just a lot of fun to watch. If all unnecessary sequels to medium quality horror movies were this good I’d love them a lot more (looking at you Laid to Rest 2.)
Likely due to the complete meltdown of the Greek economy around the time when this film was released, Evil In the Time of Heroes has not received a proper US release but it can be found on Amazon Instant.
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