Despite their R-ratings, the Milla Jovovich Resident Evil movies were surprisingly light on gore; there’s a reason why. Capcom’s original Resident Evil popularized the survival horror genre and introduced digital bloodshed to an entire generation of gamers. The original titles were inspired by George A Romero movies like Dawn Of The Dead, and player characters could perish in all manner of gruesome ways, from being eaten by hordes of zombies to decapitation. Their success made a live-action Resident Evil a certainty.
Romero himself was first set to write and direct Resident Evil but was later replaced by Mortal Kombat’s Paul W.S. Anderson. Whereas the latter video game adaptation was PG-13 and had to tone down the over-the-top gruesomeness of the arcade games, Resident Evil was an R. This should have eased fan concern about the film, but the fact it focused on a new set of characters and didn’t directly adapt any of the games was a big problem. Milla Jovovich’s Alice fronted six Resident Evils in total, with a reboot called Welcome To Raccoon City later arriving in 2021.
Resident Evil’s Producer Didn’t Like Violent Movies
Despite being R and featuring blood, the Resident Evil movies – especially the first few outings – are oddly sanitized in their use of gore. When characters are eaten it’s usually achieved with sound effects and suggestion and since the zombies are already dead, they don’t really bleed. Of course, the films are aiming for an action movie tone than a gory, Romero-style zombie horror. Still, they’re so light on gruesomeness they’re veering closer to a PG-13, and this was due to Resident Evil producer and Constantin Film head Bernd Eichinger having a dislike of overtly violent movies.
The late producer – whose other credits include Downfall and The NeverEnding Story – gave an interview with Spiegel Culture in 2002 about Resident Evil. When asked about the violence in the movie, he offered that blood never flows, which is something they paid attention to as “I don’t like violent films.” He also stated that the most extreme moments like the famous Resident Evil laser hallway sequence are “… almost comical because it’s so absurd.” In all the films there are certainly gruesome moments, but they never linger or go too extreme. Eichinger was also concerned about the film’s commercial appeal if the violence was too extreme.
George Romero Was Fired From Resident Evil Over His Gory Script
That might be a key reason Romero’s Resident Evil was canceled. Executive producer Robert Kulzer claimed in Fangoria (via Resident Evil Wiki) they first approached Romero with the intent of making “the ultimate zombie movie,” but after reading the script – which featured scenes of characters being melted by acid or ripped apart by monsters – they decided it was too graphic. “We could not have shown it to a regular theater, we could not have shown it on television and the video would have been sold in the X-rated section,” said Kulzer. Unwilling to budge over the level of violence in his script, Romero was soon fired by Constantin.
Source: Spiegel Culture, Fangoria (via Resident Evil Wiki)