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01.25.2017by: Eric Walkuski

Resident Evil: Five Scenes from the Franchise that are Actually Cool

Horror fans, the majority of them, don't take the RESIDENT EVIL films very seriously. In fact, they probably barely think about them at all. For a series of movies - 6 total now - that involve zombies, mutants, killer dogs, ass-kicking women, evil scientists and the like, it's hard to believe they're in such low standing with a crowd that, you'd assume, would embrace them. What's keeping the RESIDENT EVIL movies from being enjoyed, if only as guilty pleasures? Part of it has to do with their self-seriousness, I think. They involve cheesy ingredients but don't exude an ironic attitude; they're trying too hard to be cool. Think of the slow-mo, the music, the reliance on goofy CGI. RESIDENT EVIL movies often feel like they're attempting to appeal to 13-year-old gamers and music video enthusiasts, not adults. The fact that the video games of the same name are so different, and beloved, doesn't help matters, nor does the fact that the overlord of the franchise is Paul W. S. Anderson, a director geeks and fanboys will always have it in for.

No, the RESIDENT EVIL films aren't very good, and they'll never truly hold a place in horror lore. But once in a while they'll display a bit of panache, a hint of coolness, a morsel of inspiration. These moments are few and far between, but I took a magnifying glass and leaned in close to try and find some legitimately fun stuff within the series. I came up with five scenes that are genuinely rousing, the ones even the jaded horror hounds can admit are kinda, sorta not bad. Take a look and let me know what I missed.

5. Suburban Alice gets a wake-up call

You'll be quite hard-pressed to find anything very stimulating in RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION, which I consider the worst entry in the series. And yet, there's something a little surreal and engaging about the way it opens, in which Alice dreams she's living a happy suburban life with Carlos (Oded Fehr) and her daughter Becky (Aryana Engineer). The dream quickly becomes a nightmare when zombies appear out of nowhere, turning Carlos into a ghoul and forcing Alice and Becky to play a terrifying game of hide-and-seek within their formerly happy home. Perhaps it's the change of scenery or the melancholy idea that even in dreams Alice can't escape her living hell, but this sequence starts the movie off pretty well. And it's all downhill from there.

4. Gettin' wet with the Axeman

Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter getting wet and wild in a shower together just has to earn a spot on this list... even if the circumstances aren't exactly sexy. In RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE, Alice and Claire are attempting to escape the confines of the prison they've been inhabiting by going underground, but their getaway is thwarted by a monstrous brute known as The Axeman. While this sequence contains some of the lamer traits of the RESIDENT EVIL films - a dozen Matrix-wannabe slow-motion shots, intrusive metal music - there's just something compelling and formidable about The Axeman himself; he might be the coolest-looking foe Alice has ever faced. Plus, seeing Alice and Claire team up to bring the brutish bastard down is, admittedly, just a little neat. (Anderson tried to recapture the fun of this scene in RETRIBUTION, with much diminished results.)

3. A murder of crows

Arguably, the coolest moments in the RESIDENT EVIL series occur when something unique - or at least, slightly different - is happening. We've seen Alice dropkick zombies a hundred times. Mutants with slimy tentacles emerging from their faces are ho-hum. Monster dogs running rampant gets old fast. So when you have an unexpected scene like the crow attack in RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION, it's refreshing (for lack of a better word). The third film in the series, directed by journeyman Russell Mulcahy, is the most distinctive of the bunch visually, and its standout scene involves thousands of infected, angry birds besieging a convoy of survivors. Crows peck faces, a massive flamethrower is utilized and flies out of control, and Alice uses her mind to create a ceiling of fire. Preposterous, of course, but undeniably amusing.

2. Worst laser light show ever

The first film in the RESIDENT EVIL franchise is, like all the rest, imperfect to be sure. Forget the fact that it didn't nearly resemble the video game that so many people were looking forward to seeing come to life; it moves in fits and starts, loudly blasts incredibly dated music, and isn't effectively scary. But if there's one sequence we all recall from the franchise as a whole, it's the hallway scene from the original: sinister artificial intelligence Red Queen is none too happy about a band of operatives attempting to shut her (it?) down, so a very lethal - not to mention unfair - laser system is deployed in a tight hallway, slicing members of the team to pieces. The CGI isn't so sharp when looked at now, and there is that annoying heavy metal soundtrack detracting from the creepiness factor, but for RESIDENT EVIL it's a memorable and entertaining couple of minutes. (So much so that they revisit it in EXTINCTION and yet again in THE FINAL CHAPTER.)

1. Going up!

If there's another sequence everyone remembers from the first film, it's the tense couple of minutes spent in a malfunctioning elevator during the opening. What's interesting is, there's no blood in the scene: you don't even get the money shot at the end. Rather, it's the tension built by Anderson, who makes us all think about A) How shitty it is to be stuck in an elevator full of panicky idiots, and B) How dreadful it would be to attempt to wiggle your way out of said elevator, only to have it spring to life again. The Red Queen certainly has a sick sense of humor, there's no denying that, so when a helpless Umbrella employee tries escaping the claustrophobic lift, the A.I. gives her a head-chopping she'll never forget. On the subject, the entire opening of the film is fairly decent, as Red Queen goes into lockdown mode and freaks out the doomed scientists within the Hive. Seems as though these flicks always work best when they're not engaging in mindless machine gun fire and kung-fu.

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