Evil in the Time of Heroes (2009)

Rating: C-

Dir: Yorgos Noussias
Star: Andreas Kontopoulos, Argiris Thanasoulas, Meletis Georgiadis, Billy Zane

There are films I don’t like much, but where I tend to want to start my review with, “It’s not you, it’s me.” For I could be more inclined to look upon thus favorably, if a) I had seen the movie to which this is a sequel, and b) I was from Athens, or at least Greece. The earlier movie, simply entitled Evil, is apparently the first Greek zombie movie, but it doesn’t appear to be available on any streaming service. While I’m sure I could track it down, I thought I’d watch the sequel to get an idea of whether to make the effort. To which I now definitively say, “Meh.”

I’ve a feeling this is probably the second Greek zombie movie. It’s less a story than a collection of ideas, loosely tossed into a script, and held together largely by in-jokes and local references. It follows on immediately from Evil, with Vakirtzis (Kontopoulos), Meletis (Georgiadis) and their pals on the run from the zombie hordes. But we also learn this isn’t the first such epidemic, with an ancient Greek outbreak also depicted over the course of the movie. Linking the two by appearing in both ancient and modern times, is a prophet-like figure, played by Billy Zane (speaking perfect Greek – his family name was originally Zanetakos). He is now looking for the heroes who can end the undead apocalypse, preferably before the imminent NATO airstrike arrives. 

Some of the ideas here are great. Crossing World War Z with 300, for instance, deserves a much bigger budget than the 100,000 Euros spent here. Indeed, I wonder why there have been so few historical zombie movies. It would seem a ripe source of potential stories. But outside of semi-spoofs like Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies, I can’t think of many, beyond Exit Humanity and Overlord. Unfortunately, it feels like, for every idea that works, there are three or four that left me going “Eh?” and scratching my head in bemused indifference. Some seem so drastically out of place, I can only conclude they either referred back to the preceding film, or would make sense to a local audience. [At the time this was made, Greece was in serious financial crisis]

Noussias certainly doesn’t stint on the gore, and the effects are sometimes genuinely impressive. It’s just a shame they are not in the service of a better plot, which seems too willing to paint itself into a corner, then invoke some kind of ludicrous deus ex machina to escape. Or even just drop a “Ten minutes later” caption and have the characters no longer in peril. The first time something like that happened, I did laugh. By the end, it felt considerably more like laziness. Having, for example, Kontopoulos play his own mother in drag, seems like needless self-indulgence, no matter how you cut it. All the spinning, severed Billy Zane heads in the world can’t save this from itself.