The Resident Evil films (and games!) brought the zombie apocalypse to life on the screen long before AMC turned The Walking Dead into a TV series. Love it or hate it, here are 24 horrifying—yet interesting—facts about the films.
Resident Evil Movies Facts
24. Without a Trace
The first film contains a subtle reference to the video games: When the group returns to the laser hallway, the victims’ bodies have disappeared. This also happens in the video game, as corpses will vanish as soon as a player leaves and reenters the area.
23. Count Me in
Michelle Rodriguez, who plays Rain, loved the games so much that she told her agent to let her know if anyone ever wrote a script for a film version. When director and writer Paul W.S. Anderson’s screenplay was snatched up, Rodriguez jumped right in.
22. Change of Name
The first film was originally titled Resident Evil: Ground Zero, but this was changed (to the simple Resident Evil) for obvious reasons after September 11th.
21. Hands-on Research
The main cast was instructed to play the original games all the way through as a part of their training and research for their roles. Some members, worried they wouldn’t be able to complete the games before filming began, acquired videos of other people beating the game instead. Too bad we didn’t have Twitch back then!
Gwyneth Paltrow was originally slated to play Alice. When that didn’t work out, Milla Jovovich landed the role, and ended up meeting her future husband, none other than the director Paul W.S. Anderson.
19. Everything Has a Price
James Cameron, Mr. Avatar himself, convinced Anderson to shoot the second entry in the franchise in 3-D. The technology was relatively new, and it didn’t come cheap: the 3-D effects of Resident Evil: Afterlife cost a startling $12 million on top of its regular budget.
Jovovich designed her own costume for Resident Evil: Extinction, the third installment. Makes sense, since Jovovich first gained success as a fashion model.
17. Huge Fan
Many people in the cast had never played the Resident Evil games prior to signing on for the films. The main reason Jovovich agreed to the role was because her brother Marko was a huge fan of the games.
16. Too Much Fun
On the DVD commentary for Resident Evil, Jovovich recounted a debauched last day on set: It was a crew member’s birthday, and someone brought in bottles of champagne. Despite the worries and protests of Anderson, who very unreasonably wanted sober actors to direct, the cast got drunk while waiting for the final scene to start shooting.
15. Cameo appearance
The presidents of both Capcom Japan and Capcom American appear in first film as zombies; Capcom created the video game series.
The games were actually inspired by George Romero’s zombie films, and the legendary filmmaker was brought in early on as a potential writer and director. Unfortunately, the studio passed on his script, which apparently stayed more true to the game series.
13. Toronto Connection
Parts of Resident Evil: Apocalypse were shot in Toronto, Canada. At around the five minute mark of the film, you can see the CN Tower in the background; although they edited out the tower throughout the film, they must have missed this in post production!
12. Horror Film History
The film franchise as a whole grossed over $1 billion with the release of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, making it the highest grossing horror franchise of all time.
11. Packing on the Pounds
In Apocalypse, the suit for Nemesis weighed a whopping 60 pounds! Because of how heavy it was, stuntman Matthew G.Taylor could only wear it for 15 minutes at a time before overheating.
10. Zombie Boot Camp
Most of the zombies used in the films are actually professional dancers, and they had to attend what was essentially zombie boot camp to prepare for their roles. During their training, the coaches stressed that they shouldn’t do stereotypically “zombie” things like drag their feet or walk around with outstretched arms.
In Resident Evil: Extinction, there is a scene with crows sitting on power lines that then attack as a huge group. This is a direct reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds.
8. She Doesn’t Exist
The character of “Alice” was created just for the films; she never makes an appearance in any of the games. We also never hear her name spoken in the first film, and it is only mentioned in the credits. This was intentional, as Anderson wanted the character to be a blank slate. As he said, “While you’re watching as an audience member, you’re watching a character being constructed in front of your eyes.”
7. Binge Session
Before directing Resident Evil, Anderson played the first two Evil games back-to-back. It took him about 10 days.
6. That Scene
Who can forget the famous laser grid scene from the first film? Apparently not game developers: That famous laser hallway made its way into Resident Evil 4 (2004). Indeed, over time, the games have adopted more and more of the action movie style present in the films.
5. No Faith in Females or Zombies
Back in 2002, there wasn’t a lot in the way of zombies or female heroes in mainstream media; a zombie film hadn’t actually been made in years, and studios weren’t so sure about a female lead. Anderson definitely proved them wrong, and now we’ve got zombie shows everywhere. And, uh, some female leads too.
4. Game of Thrones Connection
In Extinction, Iain Glen, who plays Jorah Mormont on Game of Thrones, plays Dr. Isaacs, who ends up transforming into the Tyrant beast. Looks like this Glen is used to playing hapless men who don’t turn out so great.
3. Break it You Buy it
Film equipment doesn’t come cheap, especially cameras. While filming Afterlife, Jovovich accidentally shot out a camera worth $100,000. The perils of working on an action film. Hopefully they didn’t take it out of her pay!
2. Raking in the Dough
People seem to really like their Resident Evil films.They liked it so much that Afterlife ended up becoming the highest grossing Canadian film, and raked in $300 million worldwide. It also brought in the most money of any Resident Evil film to date.
1. Real danger
After a grisly motorcycle crash on the set of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, Olivia Jackson, a stuntwoman, had to have her arm amputated, and in another accident on the same set, Ricardo Cornelius, a crew member, was crushed against a wall; he died of his injuries. Filming any stunt is not without its risks, and this franchise has its share of real-life danger.