About The Undead
When he took on the Resident Evil assignment, director Paul W.S. Anderson knew that reinventing the Undead would be a challenge. "You can't do today what filmmakers were doing twenty years ago," he says. "Back then, extreme splatter movies like George Romero's Dawn of the Dead and Lucio Fulci's Zombie Flesheaters were everywhere, and dripping gore was the modus operandi of the times. To be scalp-freezing and scary rather than just gross, I knew we had to be different with our conception of the Undead in
To that end Anderson turned to the special effects make-up company Animated Extras International. to design a unique Undead look. Academy® Award nominatee for Shadow of the Vampire, Animated Extras had created actor Sam Neill's make-up effects in Anderson's film Event Horizon and had also contributed to the widely acclaimed Elizabeth and Gladiator.
"Total realism is the key to the look we were after," comments Animated Extras' Pauline Fowler. "We wanted to create a visual look for the T-virus because it's inhaled, goes through the system and exits via the eyes, nose and mouth. So we researched medical textbooks to come up with something that wasn't the traditional rotting flesh, but a real living organism that eats away at the skin."
She adds, "Because the T-virus can be quick-acting depending on the system of the person infected, it gave us lots of variety in the look and diseased mass, although all the lesions are in roughly the same areas - including the finger-tips. It would have been a logistical nightmare for my six-man team to cope with the fifty main Undead extras if the virus mutated the characters' entire bodies," she says.
"It was far easier, and much more effective," says Fowler, "to have the virus concentrated in key areas. We also made the Undead look clammy, sweaty and as ill as possible so the characters
- and the audience - could still think a few were latently human while something awful was clearly happening to them.
Specially designed contact lenses, giving the lead Undead's eyes a puss-filled, grungy stare, completed the overall look."
An interesting element of the Undead sequences that Anderson decided to hire a choreographer to ensure physical fluidity of movement. Swing Kids dance coach Warnar Van Eeden was the man chosen for the task. He recalls, "Paul was emphatic about the Undead extras needing movement instruction because he didn't want the slightest chance of them looking ridiculous or laughable as they often did in zombie films." Van Eeden gave different instructions to the groups, telling one group for example, to imagine how it would feel if they were professional dancers who hadn't properly stretched in weeks.
Producer Jeremy Bolt joined the Undead, as he explains: "I actually ended up playing three Undead all in the same sequence," he says. "I'll volunteer for anything, and when Paul asked, I quickly joined the ranks. I was in make-up for four hours, had my head shaved, prosthetics put all over my face and my teeth blackened. Pauline Fowler told me I was a Grade 2 - meaning my viral infection was quite severe. I get shot by Rain, then I'm seen in the elevator taking a big chunk out of JD's arm, then I'm in a suit being pulled 15 feet through the air. I became an honorary member of the stunt department after that."
Not only was the work fun for Bolt, Resident Evil became more of a family affair than he ever expected - sister Anna Bolt plays the scientist Green, who delivers a major underwater shock to the commandos when they first enter the ghost-like Hive.
Paul W.S. Anderson continues, "Production designer Richard Bridgland and I decided very early on to make all the sets where the Undead appear very claustrophobic -- because that's how they be
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