Last week, Superfan Kory Davis put on a 15th anniversary screening for the first Resident Evil movie through his Nostalgia Screenings banner at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatre in Hollywood. The event also coincided with the Blu-Ray release of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Special guests in attendance were none other than director of the entire Resident Evil franchise, Paul W.S. Anderson, and his producing partner Jeremy Bolt.
Kory has been doing several anniversary screenings as of late at the TCL, including Legally Blonde, Mortal Kombat, and the Sold Out Power Rangers event. We had a quick word with Kory and asked him, simply, why he was doing all of this. “My crazy goal at the end of the day would be to let Hollywood know that we need to do more movies like back in the 80’s and 90’s. There are no movies like this now; all of these action movies are very serious and espionage. We have lines of people selling out these theatres to watch 15-year anniversaries. If you don’t want to go watch the 15th version of King Arthur, you can come see the anniversary of Resident Evil all over again.”
Of course, the first thing that came to mind actually wasn’t how cool it would be to meet Anderson and Bolt (to which I’m also a big fan of their film, Event Horizon), but the fact that Resident Evil was 15 years ago?! Thanks for helping this already old-ass fanboy feel all the more ancient. Getting past that, we were surrounded by several dedicated fans who showed up in cosplay of different characters from the film and game. They even held an autograph signing before the event so fans could get memorabilia signed, all the whole praising Anderson and Bolt for their terrific job on the films. Although, in my attempt to be clever, I brought my original DVD of the first Resident Evil film for them to sign — only to have Anderson point out that if I was “being nostalgic, [I] should’ve brought the VHS.” Damn you, Paul.
Ironically or not, this screening happened before the recent news of Constantin Films announcing a reboot of the Resident Evil franchise, a play to start fresh with a completely original concept and take on the characters from previous films. So just when we thought that this franchise was done, the “Dollar Signs Gods” have reared their heads with more RE coming our way. At least Alice and Co. can still rest in peace.
GodHatesGeeks had the privelege to catch Anderson and Bolt in a highly intriguing Q&A before the screening:
- Anderson, on how they got this project started 17-years ago: “I was locked away in my apartment. People thought something had happened to me, playing the first two games and I emerged two weeks later to tell Jeremy, ‘we have to make this into a movie’.” Bolt also added that he wasn’t playing the game. “I wasn’t as avid as Paul, [but] soon got very into it. I have since become an avid gamer!”
- Anderson chimed in on who had the rights to the game: “[As Jeremy] investigated who had the rights, we discovered they were already taken by a German company [who] had been developing it unsuccessfully. I came in and said that I had this great idea for Resident Evil. They said ‘that’s great, but we spent all our money.’ So I said ‘that’s okay, I’ll write it on spec’, which is what we did.”
- On the major studio’s nervousness and dreaded test screening process: “We had a deal (with Sony) where–if we didn’t score certain results–they could put the movie straight-to-DVD,” Anderson stressed but pointed out that better luck was on shortly found thereafter. “At the start of the movie there’s a scene where a woman in an elevator is about to get her head chopped off. And just as it’s about to happen — when it cuts to black — you can hear the decapitation, and this guy sitting right in front of me stood up and says ‘I LOVE THIS MOVIE!’ The whole audience erupted into cheers. At that point, Jeremy and I looked at each other and knew we were not going straight-to-video.”
- On Capcom not wanting the filmmakers to kill characters from the video game and his female lead, Alice, played by Milla Jovovich: “This is an action/horror film, [and] people have to die. I didn’t want to do a straight adaption because then there would be no suspense,” Paul said, also knowing the risk of “females and acton movies not working, [with] American studios not wanting to make them. But Resident Evil was made outside of America, a pretty much ‘indie’ movie; and, in Europe, a woman at the forefront of these kinds of films was a lot more acceptable. So we ran with it and it was a big hit.”
- On their most favorable Resident Evil film, Bolt claimed that his favorite was the first but thought “the last one [was] the best. The most difficult one was number three. The heat in the desert, the rattlesnakes — it was very tough to shoot.” Anderson agreed. “The first one I have massive affection for because without that movie we wouldn’t have a franchise. The last one is the most polished. [As for characters], we went with the fan favorites which is what we did with the monsters. That’s why the dogs are in the first one because everyone loves the dogs. We went in order of how people love the characters.”
- On how the creators continue to come up with ideas for interesting and fresh follow-ups: “You have to keep trying to do something different,” Bolt began. “We hope with Resident Evil every time you see the trailer for the next movie it feels like a new movie. The studio is calling [on] you to make sure you do ‘this and this’ with the one that really worked. They’re scared if you stray too much from the formula you could mess it up. So you’re having to fill that as well as give you guys something different.”
- On the many similarities between the film and Alice in Wonderland, Anderson chimed, “The Red Queen is obsessed with chopping people’s heads off. (Taking from) the other Lewis Carroll book Through the Looking Glass in the first movie they literally go through a ‘looking glass’ to go down into the hole in the ground. It’s one of my favorite books. It was a big influence on the franchise.”
After sitting in the theatre and watching the film again for the first time in some years, Resident Evil holds up outstandingly well. The intense pace never allows you to get bored or lose focus. The constant action and zombie presence is loads of fun in a time that was years before The Walking Dead.
Perhaps the chief reason for a reboot is the film’s aging. But despite the original film’s poor looking special effects, cartoony monsters and “dorm room” motion capturing, the action scenes were never hurt by it. Watching people get bit, grabbed, or slashed fiften years later(!) was still appetizing. – Derek Vigeant