If you wish to go to the current Fangoria site, you may click the top logo, "Home" or "News" links. Or click here.
Last December, the producers of RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE granted FANGORIA exclusive access to the Toronto set of the fourth chapter in their action/horror franchise, derived from the best-selling Capcom video games. For 10 weeks, right up to AFTERLIFE’s September 10 release by Screen Gems, Fangoria.com will be presenting a series of one-on-one interviews with the movie’s cast and crew. For more on the movie, go here and search back for previous interviews.
Today we talk with AFTERLIFE writer/director/producer Paul W.S. Anderson, back in the RESIDENT EVIL director’s chair after launching the franchise in 2002, then writing and producing the two live-action sequels (Alexander Witt and Russell Mulcahy, respectively, directed those follow-ups). The amiable, boyish and tall Brit also helmed such films of the dark fantastique as EVENT HORIZON, ALIEN VS. PREDATOR, SOLDIER, MORTAL KOMBAT and the DEATH RACE remake.
FANGORIA: We might as well start with the basics. What is the plot of RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE?
PAUL W.S. ANDERSON: Well, it picks up after the end of the last movie, where Alice [Milla Jovovich] threatens that she’s coming for Wesker, and she’s going to bring a few friends in the form of clones. The beginning of this film is the payoff of that where she actually confronts Wesker [Shawn Roberts] in Tokyo, and bloodshed ensues. Then we follow the original Alice from Japan to Alaska, where she’s hunting for Claire Redfield [Ali Larter]. When she gets to Alaska, it’s not everything she thought it was gonna be. She finds Claire, but doesn’t find the others, and then they continue their journey down an abandoned Western seaboard of America. So you have some pretty epic imagery of an abandoned, desolate North America. The progression is a couple of years after the last movie; the undead have taken root and there is very little humanity left.
When we meet Alice after Tokyo, she’s been traveling for 177 days and there’s been no sign of life other than her. Eventually, she and Claire discover a group of survivors in LA, who include Claire’s brother Chris Redfield [Wentworth Miller]. LA is a burnt wasteland ’cause the forest fires have swept through; there was no one to stop them. So you have some pretty epic postapocalyptic imagery. And then the final act of the movie takes place on this big ship in Santa Monica Bay.
AFTERLIFE has been very influenced by the imagery from the last game: the creatures, Majini, the Executioner undead… Also, the boat was a big part of that game, so we’ve kind of taken a lead, production-design-wise, from them. And Wesker. I thought some of the fight choreography from the last game was very, very strong, so we’ve taken a lot of that and shot it for this movie. It looks amazing. It’s one thing doing the stuff in animation—it’s kind of easy—but to move cameras in the way that they do in the game, to try and recreate that in live action, especially with 3-D cameras that are very big and bulky, is very difficult. And then also, we’ve had the additional excitement of shooting with the Phantom camera, which I’ve used in commercials, but doesn’t get utilized in feature films very much. It was never really developed for use in film; it was more of a scientific tool. We’re the first people to ever shoot with the Phantom in 3-D. Some of the fight choreography we’ve done is pretty spectacular; it’s really off the hook.
FANG: So what made you decide to jump back into the director’s chair after sitting the last two out, even though you’ve written and produced all of them?
ANDERSON: We felt the first trilogy really delivered, and I thought now it was my job to come back in. I launched the franchise originally, and now it was up to me to come back and take it to the next level. Hopefully. The intention is certainly to make a T2 to TERMINATOR or ALIENS to ALIEN—just to make this on a slightly grander scale. It’s a juxtaposition of the epic sweep of the big action scenes with the claustrophobic horror that goes back to the first movie—that film’s flooded sets and really tight, confined locations. So although burnt LA is epic imagery, eventually it boils down to these very contained, scary environments.
FANG: Has the addition of 3-D and the epic quality you’ve added made the budget go up considerably? Or is it comparable to the last one?
ANDERSON: It’s the most expensive RESIDENT EVIL yet, definitely. Each movie has gone up, but this one has made a more significant jump. That’s partly the 3-D, but also the sending of 2nd units out to Alaska; stuff like that doesn’t come cheap. And the 3-D is complicated.
FANG: Are you ramping up the movie’s zombie aspect, since the living dead are more popular than ever?
ANDERSON: There’s definitely a lot of zombie action in AFTERLIFE, but the thing with RESIDENT EVIL is that there are a lot of other creatures as well. The Executioner is the “unique undead,” so definitely he’s the big boss. He’s a prize undead. And also the whole Majini aspect.
ANDERSON: Those are the ones with big mandibles that come out of their mouths. In the RESIDENT EVIL games, the undead evolved. They started as typical Romero slow-moving zombies, and now they’re a lot faster-moving and have mutations as well. The T-virus has mutated and evolved. We always said in the first movie that it’s like a protein virus; it evolves its way to a different kill. And in a like manner, the undead in this movie have evolved for the better. Certainly they’re not the typical undead.
TO BE CONTINUED
Stop back this Wednesday for more Q&A time with Anderson. And check out FANGORIA #296 (on sale this month), featuring an all-different AFTERLIFE set-visit cover story.
JOIN OUR COMMUNITY AND BE THE FIRST TO KNOW ABOUT NEWS, CONTESTS, EVENTS AND MORE!
All contents © 2011 Fangoria Entertainment