Evil/To Kako (2005)
Meletis Georgiadis (Meletis), Argiris Thanasoulas (Argyris), Pepi Moschovakou (Marina), Stavroula Thomopoulou (Dimitra), Mairi Tsoni (Jenny), Andreas Kontopoulos
“As a plague of walking undead begins, a group of random strangers in downtown Athens must band together to combat the flesh eating hordes.” – DVD box.
Zombie movies are almost literally a dime a dozen but even as mainstream as they’ve become in the last several years they’re still a very niche property and thus if you want a good big budget zombie movie that’s big on plot, production values, character, acting, cinematography, and sound design but also doesn’t compromise on raw visceral gore then you’ll find yourself disappointed.
That’s not to say there aren’t a bunch of great mid-budget films or low-budget indies that are great but you have to really wallow through the filth to find them. Because while the much vaunted “zombie fatigue” that genre fans complain about is a malady I have yet to acquire, I still can’t even begin to overstate how many absolutely atrocious zombie movies exist out there in the wild. I’m honestly contemplating just setting up a month to throw out 31 columns in 31 days of shitty zombie movies for your reading bemusement.
So heavy is the volume of bad zombie movies that one finds themselves being very forgiving of movies that at least tick some of the “good movie” boxes I mentioned above. Evil (Or To Kako as it’s known in its native country of Greece) is one such film.
Evil is pretty boilerplate as far as zombie apocalypse scenarios go. We have a zombie outbreak, started by three men who are infected by an evil presence that finds them in a cave, that quickly takes over a city and a small group of survivors trying to find a way out of it. And that’s all there really is to it; there’s no attempt to explain what the evil is, no real goal beyond surviving, there’s a bit of a small quest involved with one of the characters going back to get her little brother but that’s pretty clearly a fool’s errand from the outset.
Now it’s easy to criticize the overt lack of plot but the survivors take on a zombie apocalypse is used so often for a reason, it’s a solid framework on which to build a story and this particular framework works as often as it doesn’t. With that said, Evil doesn’t build much on top of that framework, we have a cast of somewhat memorable characters in a setting that could be very unique (Athens, Greece) but isn’t used in that way. Our time in the film’s Athens is confined to warehouses, apartment buildings, narrow streets, and scrubby fields. And while the cameraman does occasionally snag some really neat shots, much of the movie is confined to the awful shaky cam style of many low budget horror efforts and much of the action deliberately takes place offscreen.
Evil’s strengths are two-fold. It has a weird cornball sense of humor that’s evocative of some of the better horror comedy auteurs like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson. It’s not as adept as The Spierig Brothers (Undead) but also not as groan-worthy and tone deaf as Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) so while none of the film’s characters are as appealing as Phantasm’s Reggie, Shaun of the Dead’s Shaun, Dead-Alive’s Lionel, or Evil Dead’s Ash they’re still not entirely forgettable.
There’s Meletis, our grizzled badass type; he was forced to kill his family when they turned and he’s all glowers and thousand yard stares. There’s teenage Jenny, whose father was one of three patients zero that started the plague, and her neighbor Marina. There’s Dimitra, girlfriend of one of the other patients zero who is the steely resolve type who inexplicably seems to know some manner of martial arts. Then there’s Argyris, an Athens taxi driver who seems devoted to taking nothing seriously and trying to get laid. The character stops just shy of being grating (your own mileage may vary) but I’ve always had a soft spot for characters who seem to be actively trying to top themselves for “most deplorable thing to say at the worse moment.” Argyris definitely has shades of Ash Williams circa Army of Darkness and he remains a bright spot throughout the movie.
Evil’s other strength lies in its effects. For a low-budget film this movie has some surprisingly competent gore effects and it has a lot of them. There are several confrontations between our survivors and the undead and each one is filled with dismemberment, exploding heads, and various other body damage usually inflicted in a suitably gonzo manner and rendered in that wonderful goopy ’80s-style practical manner which horror fans such as myself love.
I really have a hard time quantifying why I like Evil, it’s decent at a lot of things but not really particularly good at anything. If I could put a one-word pull-quote on the cover it would be “capable.” Maybe it’s because low-budget zombie films are often junk or maybe it just pushes my buttons in the right manner but it’s a movie I really like if not really love. If you’re looking for something great then you’d do better to check out the Spierig Brothers’ Undead or if you want something more interesting then check out Schott Phillips’ gonzo epic The Stink of Flesh but if you’re looking for a zombie apocalypse that pretty much does what it says on the tin then Evil is worth checking out.
Evil is available on DVD.
NEXT TIME ON DOOMSDAY REELS
“Have you ever been fucked by a Greek taxi driver?”
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