“Resident Evil” director Paul WS Anderson, muse on Zombie Zeitgeist

In a pop culture climate where zombies abound, it’s hard to imagine a time when the living dead wouldn’t rampage across all available platforms. But when the team behind the Japanese video game adaptation “Biohazard” began their journey to the big screen, the cinematic landscape was mostly inundated with wizards and pre-teen hobbits.

“‘Harry Potter’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ were studio films, and we were an independent at the time,” says “resident Evil“director Paul WS Anderson.

“I think that the fact that the first film (‘Resident Evil’) was a German-British co-production, shot entirely in Europe, with a mainly British and German crew, allowed us to force some things that if we had been developed in a studio system may not have taken place.

One of the biggest impacts of “Resident Evil” on film and television is the influx of strong women into action franchises.

“If you look at the scenery now, how many awesome babes we have, it’s almost cooler, sexier, hotter, to have a female protagonist,” says executive producer Robert Kulzer.

This was not the case in the early 2000s, when choosing a female role was the producers’ biggest obstacle to making the film.

“I’ve always liked strong women in movies, but at that time in Hollywood there was really this unwritten law – it was certainly verbalized in many meetings that I attended – that films d ‘female-led action just doesn’t work, ”Anderson said.

The remake of “La Femme Nikita”, “Tank Girl” and a few other failed attempts was proof enough to the financiers that a woman couldn’t wear an action shot.

“I didn’t think any of these movies were particularly good, which is why they didn’t work,” Anderson said. “But back then, definitely in Hollywood, it was hard to be successful with a movie like this.”

“In terms of success, it’s always difficult to say with genre films which will stand out,” adds Anderson manager Ken Kamins. “What made this one unique was Paul’s creative decision to add the character of Alice, who didn’t appear in the games. He had a strong take on how to honor them. fans of the game while also appealing to people who might never have played the game. “

While the original game was inspired by the work of George Romero, and Anderson as filmmaker pays homage to classic horror writers John Carpenter and Ridley Scott, the past 15 years have opened the door for post-franchise creators. apocalyptic to become more and more inspired by each other.

“I remember when ’28 Days Later ‘came out, and the walking dead were moving fast,” says producer Jeremy Bolt. “It’s something we’ve talked about a lot. With ‘The Walking Dead’ the power struggles within the band, that’s something we discussed. We were very impressed with how “The Walking Dead” managed to keep you connected to all of these characters. “

But what the producers think that sets the “Resident Evil” franchise apart is that you never lose sight of who the bad guy is.

“In ‘The Walking Dead’ or ‘World War Z’, the genesis of the apocalypse is really a little more obscure,” says Kulzer. “In ‘Resident Evil’ Paul really got hooked on this from a western point of view, that it’s man-made. It’s almost like the evil in us. We are describing two sides of the same coin: Yes, there is a utopian idea behind it, that the world could be so much better if it were designed by a brilliant scientist. But then there is the flip side. But what if things go wrong? And I think people have this kind of deep-rooted anxiety about what’s going on in our world and who’s really in charge.

As for our current obsession with the end of the world, Anderson suspects it is twofold.

“Look, ‘Resident Evil’ came out and made a bunch of money. I think anyone who had doubts whether the zombies were commercial or not, no longer had those doubts because there was living evidence on their face, ”he says. “And I think that’s the classic thing people say about sci-fi: It can be set in the future or in a fantasy world, but what it’s really about are the obsessions of the present. Apocalyptic movies tend to thrive when people are concerned about the state of the world. ‘Resident Evil’ was just ahead of the times.

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