Resident Evil: From Console to Big Screen

Inspired by the cult 1980’s video game, the nostalgic tribute to creature features from the 1950's, IT CAME FROM THE DESERT will make its Texas premiere on Wednesday, May 23 at Flix Brewhouse. It features rival motocross heroes and heroines, kegger parties in the desert, secret underground military bases, romantic insecurities... and of course giant ants.

As we count down the days until the special screening of IT CAME FROM THE DESERT, some of the Other Worlds staff will present their favorite films based on an original video game. Next up is Mark Martinez, programmer and Social Media Director, with his take on RESIDENT EVIL.

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In 1998, horror fanatics scoured the World Wide Web and fanzines for any crumb of information they could get on some huge news… George A. Romero was making a new zombie movie! The father of what we know as the zombie genre had been hired by videogame company Capcom to write and direct a big screen adaption of their groundbreaking videogame Resident Evil. In the history of “what could’ve beens” this ranks high on the list in the horror genre… as it never came to fruition.

What seemed like a done deal, Romero having directed an ad campaign for Capcom’s Bioshock 2 in Japan, the project fell apart. The Capcom producers were unhappy with Romero’s script and the production was sent straight to “development hell.” 

So, in walks director Paul Anderson. No, the “other Paul Anderson.” Just having come off of EVENT HORIZON, and a big fan of the videogame, Paul W.S. Anderson had written his own Resident Evil-inspired script titled UNDEAD. The studio hired him and his script was reworked into the first Resident Evil film.

The odd thing is that the producers originally had issues with Romero’s adaptation straying too far from the source material. They saw this as possibly alienating fans of the videogame and that newcomers would dislike the film as well. It would be interesting to see his script as Anderson’s strays extremely far from the videogame. Save for the T-Virus, Umbrella Corporation, and some elements and characters seemingly thrown in for “fan service” his Resident Evil world is also quite different than that of the source material.

Nonetheless, the film was a success. Not in the “awards and critical praise” sense that the “other Paul Anderson’s” films are, but the kind of success that producers and companies tend to like—at the box office. The original RESIDENT EVIL grossed over $100 million dollars worldwide. It was in fact one of the early examples of earnings in foreign markets giving longevity to a film franchise. The series’ domestic hauls were never the most impressive, but they always did well overseas. Thus, audiences were treated to six films and over a decade’s worth of Alice and her trip down the Umbrella Corporation rabbit hole.

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The first film eschews the original videogame’s “haunted house” setting for a vast underground laboratory run by the nefarious Umbrella Corporation. A deadly, mutative virus is released and a zomibie-ish apocalypse ensues. A created for the screen heroine named Alice awakens to the escalating horror. She and a group of survivors must face not only the infected, but also a “HAL-9000 like” Artificial Intelligence called the Red Queen. They must battle through horrors of the practical and early 2000’s fx variety. The ending leaves the door wide open for a next chapter… or level.

Going into a new entry in the series, there is a good chance that you will be experiencing something new, though not always for the best. Don’t expect questions posed in a previous film to be answered. The Resident Evil films aren’t really bound by the laws of continuity as characters come and go and plot threads are either left dangling or completely dropped, seemingly on a whim. If one thing is certain in the film’s universe it’s that nothing is certain. A character’s mortality is only based on the actor’s availability or contract negotiations.

Are the Resident Evil films good? Kinda’. Are they bad? Kinda’. But, are they fun? Kinda’. And for a videogame movie, that’s kinda’ alright.