Resident Evil began work as a film in late 1996 following the success of the original game. A license was acquired by German film company, Constantin Film - better known for such works as The Neverending Story - who had been interested in creating a horror-action thriller for some time and saw the game as a viable franchise to adapt. Production was supervised by Yoshiki Okamoto of Capcom, who also supervised the first three Resident Evil games. The film went through two years of delays, two directors and three writers before finally being released in Spring 2002.
The film went through several scripts and writers owing to problems Capcom and Constantin had both with each other and their writers' visions. The earliest script was written by Alan B. McElroy, known for writing Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Though the script was accepted as serviceable, it was later thrown out when Constantin expressed concern the release of Resident Evil 2 would put fans off from seeing an adaptation of the original game. When McElroy failed to deliver a suitable replacement, he was let go.
For several months Constantin entertained the notion of hiring Romero as the new writer, already having distribution rights for Dawn of the Dead in Germany. Romero finally accepted this offer in June or July 1998, also accepting the offer of director. Having previously directed BIOHAZARD 2 TV-CM in September 1997, he was already familiar with the franchise. Romero sent, as he counts, "five or six drafts" based in various manners on the original game. However, the Romero-era was struck by creative differences. Romero wanted a film that had heavy action and gore elements, showing a military or paramilitary organisation being attacked by a variety of gruesome monsters with some scenes in the style of Dawn of the Dead. Producer Robert Kulzer insisted to Fangoria that Romero's vision of a hard X-rated film would have given it only a niche audience, and with countries like Germany that restricted such films in theatres and television, little profit would have been made from the film. Romero was removed as writer by mid-1999, with Electric Gaming Monthly receiving an explanation from Yoshiki Okamoto that there was presently no script. Soon after, it was decided he would be also be replaced as director with the studio wanting a complete restart of the project. Romero did not receive a confirmation of his suspension.
At the end of Romero's writing job, Constantin considered abandoning the movie entirely. Paul W.S. Anderson found his way into the project after being offered several unrelated writing jobs by Constantin. A Resident Evil gamer, Anderson had already written a knock-off script called "Undead" after hearing months earlier Romero was attached. Constantin agreed to check out his script, and soon accepted him. Appropriate changes were made, such as the inclusion of game elements like Umbrella, T-virus and Raccoon City, and the title was changed, being registered as "Resident Evil: Ground Zero" in March 2001, with "Resident Evil: The Motion Picture" as a possible alternative. In the weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the remains of 1 and 2WTC became known by "Ground Zero", likely the reason the film's name was officially changed in October 2001.
"Ground Zero" continued with the same cast that "Undead" had rather than changing character names. There were a number of differences however between this draft and the shooting script. "Ground Zero" contained a number of references to Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. This allusions included: the protagonist's name, the mansion referred to as the "Looking Glass House", a white rabbit being subject to research, the mansion itself having Wonderland-themed statues in its garden, and there being "Red Queen" and "White Queen" characters. Actors themselves were made aware of the references so they could base the illusions around their character, with Spence being the Cheshire Cat. Over the course of production, these elements were diluted or re-interpreted. White Queen, which was to have shut down Red Queen after the first scene, was removed from the story completely with Red Queen instead operational when the Sanitation Team arrives. One reference inserted into the shooting script was in the scene where Alice kills Lisa Addison. In "Ground Zero" it was to read "Love is... never having to say you're sorry" - in the film itself, it is instead an Alice in Wonderland-themed paperweight. Another change, unrelated to Alice in Wonderland, was that of the ending. Rather than the film's ending, where the mutating Matt is taken away by Umbrella for the Nemesis Programme, with Alice waking up later in a ruined Raccoon City, the two were instead to wake-up together in the hospital after the T-virus has spread across the United States, with the final sequence to show their drive out to the ruined New York City. The change was likely made to offer another sequel set in Raccoon City.
Casting took place in both the United Kingdom and United States, led by Suzanne Smith and Robyn Ray, respectively. Around October 2000, Robyn Ray made calls to a number of New York-based casting agencies looking for actors for the characters Alice; Matt; One; Twelve; J.D.; Spence and Rain. Suzanne Smith, it is assumed, was tasked with finding actors for the other characters.
The main actors were told to prepare for the film by getting copies of the games and playing them through. Some of them didn't know if they could complete them in time so they had to get video copies of other people beating the games and then watch it. Actors Michelle Rodriguez and Milla Jovovich were already fans of the series, with Rodriguez having asked her agent to tell her if a movie were to be made, and Jovovich auditioning as a present for her younger brother, who she would watch play the games.
To prepare for their roles, the Sanitation Team cast were put through a boot camp led by former Navy SEAL and personal trainer Jaymes Butler. Part of the reason for this was the belief that modern audiences would no longer accept stunt doubles, and expect the actors to really perform their own stunts. Butler himself would play the Undead security guard attacked by Alice in the kennels.
Beside actors and stuntmen, most of the Undead were professional dancers, owing to the producers not wanting inconsistent, exaggerated Zombie movement in the film. All people cast as Undead were required to take choreography classes under dance coach Warnar Van Eeden. These Undead would re-appear around the movie, in some cases purposely being shown as the same character such as Joseph May's character, Dr. Blue, who later tries to grab Kaplan as he rests on a pipe.
Other Undead include producer Jeremy Bolt, who appeared as three different Undead - two killed by the Sanitation Team in the store room attack, and a third who bites J.D.. He had to get a haircut to look different. Bolt's girlfriend was invited to be the female Undead that bites Kaplan's arm in the tunnels, while Anderson's sister appeared twice, being the Undead that bites Spence. Anderson himself was also cast as an Undead for the tunnel sequence.
Late casting choices were also made for the film. Michaela Dicker herself was cut out of the project at one point due to American test-audiences complaining they couldn't understand Red Queen. This was reversed when the replacement American actress' use of the phrase "I've been a bad girl" was deemed too suggestive. A crewmember was responsible for the opening narration, but the recording was replaced with one by Jason Isaacs during post-production.
Design and effects
Richard Bridgland served as costume designer for the film, and prepared concept art for Alice's dress and the uniforms worn by the Sanitation Team. The Sanitation gas masks had mirrors inserted into the eye holes so the audience would be unable to see their faces. The uniforms consisted of various straps and gadgets, from carrying an adaptive mobile phone to a wired device capable of hacking into electronic doors.
Set design was led by Bridgland. Sets were built up around Germany, with some existing locations used by the film crew and others constructed at Studio Berlin Adlersof. Of the two existing locations used, the Looking Glass House was filmed at Schloss Linstedt in Potsdam, while the two subway stations were filmed at the Bundestag U-Bahn station, which had recently completed construction but was unfurnished. An earlier idea was to use a Cold War-era bunker, they were difficult to find, and most large bunkers in Great Britain, Latvia and Ukraine were Second World War-era and thus too antiquated.
The Studio Berlin Adlershof sets were constructed primarily for the Hive, under a rule by Bridgland that the computers, machinery and lab equipment do not appear too cartoonish or science-fiction, and something that could exist in real life when the film was being made. The storage bay was designed to mimic Japanese architectural attitudes towards concrete blocks. Only so many crates were made for actual shooting, however; they were moved around the set during filming and then duplicated in CGI to make the room appear full. Some props in the set were actually cardboard cutouts, disguised by the low lighting. Room designs in some cases were deliberately not made clearly visible square-shaped rooms to induce a more confusing sense, which both served to present "interesting" and "disorienting" camera angles, like the triangular Red Queen control room, but also to echo the original Resident Evil with its labyrinthine corridors which frequently had corners where a Zombie could hide. This would eventually cause problems for test-audiences, and a digital map would be added in post-production to explain where the characters are in the Hive.
Pauline Fowler of Animated Extras led the special effects team. In creating the Undead designs, Fowler wanted them to appear recognisable as Zombies, be realistic-looking, and also be noticeably distinct from the Zombies of 1970s and 1980s cinema. For the realism, Fowler researched medical textbooks so that they would appear to have numerous real-world diseases scarring their bodies. Multiple make-up styles were also used to make each individual Undead unique based on how they died in the film. For instance, those who drowned appear with ochre tones, while those who had died of Halon asphyxiation had blue-tones.
The dogs were applied make-up to give the skinned, rotting look to their flesh, with CG used where necessary if parts of the body are to appear hollow. Creating rotten dogs was not something typically done in animal make-up, and the dogs were liable to lick the make-up off.
The Licker was picked as an appropriate non-human enemy for the film, as it could realistically be replicated as an animatronic. Fowler oversaw the production of two puppet versions, to be worn over a crewmember's shoulders for special purposes such as sequences where it was to be used as a battering ram to get doors or windows open, and an animatronic for close-up shots where complicated mouth movements could be used. Motion was conceived of for the puppets in the style of real animals
Adding to the practical effects, Richard Yuricich provided CGI enhancements to the Licker model, such as rendering a tongue over the latex prop used as a stand-in. The six-second sequence where the Licker kills Spence took up much of the post-production time, taking 48 hours to render a single frame. While the Licker was largely a puppet enhanced with CGI, the crows scene outside the Looking Glass House when Alice goes outside were entirely done in CGI.
In terms of sound design, the Licker and Dog sounds were created by the sound team after playing the games. In the case of the latter, the footsteps are heard before the dogs as happens in the games. To create the odd sounds near the Red Queen's chamber when being re-activated, wind was blown into the carcasses of chickens.
Anderson wanted the film's score to consist of the "aggressive and tense electro-based" music typically found in John Carpenter films like Halloween and Assault on Precinct 13. Due to his work on Scream and Mimic, film composer Marco Beltrami was hired on to the film to work alongside Marilyn Manson. Both Beltrami and Manson shared the same philosophy in music design to create moods over simply making a score, with Manson creating unique, distorted samples from unusual sources, such as a clock. In some cases, stingers were composed which bled from sound effects, such as when Alice first sees a dog, using a long hissing-like sound as if coming from the animal. In one case, one of Manson's samples terrified the sound designer's dog.
Manson wanted to invoke recurring themes in the film, with a distorted childish melody when associating with the Red Queen, coldness for the sterile laboratories, and a more militarised feeling for the Sanitation Team. The main theme was created by Manson imagining a theme for Alice in Wonderland, then distorted with breathing and electrical sounds. For action scenes, heavy metal music was played via a computer program, which he felt would feel violent and emotionless to match the Undead, which Anderson would also call "relentless".
Principal photography began on 5 March 2001. The elevator decapitation sequence was filmed using a prop elevator that could only move up and down several feet, with trick camera work and editing to make it look more dramatic. A breakaway floor was installed for the prop to protect actress Indra Ové if she were to hit her head. The sequence was, itself, inspired by an elevator crash Anderson experienced before writing the film.
In preparation for the scene where Dr. Anna Bolt is found submerged in a flooded room, actress Anna Bolt went through several weeks of scuba training with Butler. Having to float in a water tank without an oxygen mask and pretend to be dead, Anna Bolt accomplished one of the more difficult stunts in the film.
In the first Undead fight scene, an extra carrying an axe dislocated his foot intentionally to give a more unusual walking style. The sequence with an Undead being set alight was recorded some 25 times in one day, which would not have been possible had the film been done in the US. Actor James Purefoy also did his own stunt in having his right leg set on fire during this scene.
During the tunnel scene, Milla Jovovich accidentally punched Anderson in the face. The sequence with Alice jumping from a falling pipe had to be done by a stunt double due to concerns she could be choked by the wires.
In the sequence where Alice kills Spence, Jovovich accidentally injured her co-star with the prop axe, ruining the take. Anderson would later receive a complaint from his agent.
In the scene where the survivors flee on the train and fight the Licker, Jovovich injured herself while being thrown around on the metal railings that served as the train's floor. As she was wearing a dress, she could not wear strategic padding.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Making of Resident Evil (2002).
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Fangoria, issue 211, pp.17-18. "Resident Evil: Girls, Guns and Ghouls", by Mark Salisbury.
- ↑ Official US PlayStation Magazine, Vol. 2, Issue 12, p.20.
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 Cinefantastique Vol. 34, Issue 2.
- ↑ Resident evil : ground zero / by Paul W. S. Anderson.. cocatalog.loc.gov. Retrieved on 2015-04-27.
- ↑ Resident evil; Based upon screenplay of the same title by Paul W. S. Anderson.. cocatalog.loc.gov. Retrieved on 2020-02-23.
- ↑ Resident evil;. cocatalog.loc.gov. Retrieved on 2015-04-27.
- ↑ 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 8.15 8.16 8.17 8.18 8.19 8.20 8.21 8.22 8.23 8.24 8.25 8.26 8.27 8.28 8.29 Resident Evil (2002), DVD commentary.
- ↑ IMDb cast page.
- ↑ alt.games.resident-evil "RE Movie Characters - Casting".
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 11.2 Resident Evil (2002), "Costumes".
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 Resident Evil (2002), "Set Design".
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Resident Evil (2002), "Scoring Resident Evil".