It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before, and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born.

For the curious, here are links to 20082009 (a bad year), 201020112012 (when we left the blog behind), 20132014201520162017201820192020, 2021 and 2022.

Here there be spoilers!

In 2005, the first Greek zombie movie was released, To Κακό, which translates to Evil, and I reviewed it back in 2010, when the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was still a little baby on my blog instead of the Psycho Drive-In website. Someday I should get back over there and clean up all the dead links (unfortunately, Comics Bulletin, where I did all my writing back then, is no longer around) and do an update. Has it really been almost twenty years since I posted anything there? Sheesh.

Anyway, when I posted that review, there was news about a sequel being released in 2009, but I couldn’t track down an English version for years. Finally, this year we cap off the 2023 Easter Zombie Movie Marathon with Evil – In the Time of Heroes! Released just four years after Evil, the sequel brings back all of the surviving cast, and it was again written and directed by Giorgos (Yorgos) Nousias, with a few others contributing to the original story. This time, though, we also have the inclusion of the one and only Billy Zane as the mystical Prophitis – an immortal robed and hooded figure with magical zombie-killing powers and a special message for goofball Argyris (Argiris Thanasoulas).

Wait, didn’t he die, impaled on a pipe at the end of the first film?

Yes, he did.

More on that later.

The final scene of Evil made it seem like things were hopeless for our heroes as they stood back-to-back in the middle of a soccer field and hundreds of flesh-eating zombies swarmed the stadium. But this isn’t the grimdark version of a zombie apocalypse. There’s plenty of gore, practical and digitally enhanced, and violence but there’s also a splatterstick humor that recalls Evil Dead II and a generally loose and silly approach to the storytelling. After a “Ten minutes later” screen, our heroes walk out drenched in blood with a stadium full of dead zombies.

Re-dead zombies. You know what I mean.

That silliness carries on from there, too, despite the opening scene set in Ancient Greece, where a group of warriors sit around a campfire punning and goofing around before they are attacked by zombies. Only a couple survive, and then one rises from the dead but unharmed and uninfected. Billy Zane, sitting beneath a nearby tree, welcomes his back and shows him a mysterious white cube.

So, what we’ve got is this; when Evil breaks out and turns the Greece into a zombie hotbed, an immortal hero will rise up and send them all back to hell. Sort of. While it was a noble warrior back in the past, this time it’s horny goof, Argyris. And being immortal, he just slid off that pole he was mounted on, woke up, shrugged it off and went home.

In true Evil fashion, when the other survivors – Meletis (Meletis Georgiadis) who struggles dealing with the loss of his wife and child, Marina (Pepi Moschovakou) who struggles with her feelings for Meletis,  and Lieutenant Vakirtzis (Andreas Kontopoulos) who struggles with nothing as he seems to be some sort of unstoppable super soldier (I can’t remember if this was ever explained??) – are taken to a safehouse by punk rocker Johnny (Thanos Tokakis) – where they meet another surviving soldier, Major Olga (Eftyhia Giakoumi), Argyris’ dad, Kyr-Kostas (Hristos Biros), shell-shocked Vicky (Ioanna Pappa), and the cook/doctor Mageiras (Drosos Skotis) – they just accept that Argyris is back without question, and then things go from bad to worse.

The film becomes a race against the clock as European governments have decided that the only way to stop and contain the Grecian zombie threat is to wipe it off the earth. But our heroes don’t know this, instead making their way to a giant beam of white light shooting up out of the hole in the ground that was the source of the infection to begin with.

Along the way we get lots of splatter – most of it practical. Heads are popped off, limbs are violently removed, characters cross paths and die in funny but not quite hysterical ways. Nousias leans into the Sam Raimi school of gore approach and most of the time it pays off. Nothing looks too real, but that’s part of the film’s charm. This is low-budget zombie filmmaking at its finest, where most of the jokes land with blood-curdling splats. And there are hundreds of extras running around in pretty good zombie make-up.

Evil – In the Time of Heroes gets special credit for bringing in Billy Zane to basically play a Jedi. It’s always good to see Zane show up.

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