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Set Visit: Resident Evil 3

08.07.2007

Let me tell ya. When you get an email from Step Papa JoBlo asking if you want to head down to Mexico City for a RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION set visit it's a pretty fine day. I believe my response to his query was something along the lines of "Hell f*cking yes!" Obviously I was psyched to have a chance to interview Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter in the flesh, but I'd never been to Mexico before so I was also looking forward to a great opportunity to soak up the vibe. In my head were visions of tasty beer (I don't do tequila), great food, donkey bars and maybe even a cheap hooker or three. When in Rome and all that...

Usually when I visit a new town I like to wander a bit and just see what kinds of trouble I can find to get into. Unfortunately, every time I tried to leave the hotel I had a valet encouraging me to stay on site. It became painfully clear that my red headed gringo ass was not going to get a chance to wander alone and aimlessly for safety reasons. Bummer. At least there was crazy zombie bloodshed to look forward to right? Nope. The scene we peeped was three actors in a truck. But fear not, there was plenty o' good stuff that we found out. Unless I'm lying about that, but you'll just have to read on to find out.

DAY 1

I arrive in Mexico and am immediately struck on the way to the hotel by the rampant destitution of the city. An inescapable level of poverty permeates the air and is literally quite breath-taking. I'm usually as goofy and self-centered as the next guy, but it really made me thankful for all that I have.

I finally get to the hotel and my sense of gratitude to the universe is immediately co-opted by the discovery that credit card issues may keep me from checking into my hotel room. That finally gets handled, but not before I accidentally run up a $400 charge because of calls I have to make to my credit card company to get said check-in facilitated. At this point I'm grumpy and unexpectedly broke, but trying to stay positive.

Luckily I was able to hook up with some fellow webbo's and get a nice bite to eat while watching really hot chicks in booty shorts sing about the World Cup. Interestingly, while you might imagine that a crew of horror journalists would be a pretty badass group, the whole thing felt a lot more like STEEL MAGNOLIAS.

This was followed by beers (Bohemia rocks!!) in a glass floored bar that sat on top of water. Very cool effect. Then it was bed time. I did not drink any water, and my tummy was fine.

DAY 2

Actual set visit day. We start off with director Russell Mulcahy giving us a friendly welcome. We don't get to interview him, but he seems like a cool guy. Then we putter around the least tasty craft services table ever while everyone takes turns watching some of the shooting.

When I first get onto the set I see that we'll watch a scene featuring a truck in front of a giant blue screen. The cab's three occupants are Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, and Spencer Locke. The truck is about 20 feet away from us, though, and there are no free headsets available. The result is that we watch talking heads sit in a truck for the next 30 minutes.

Not very exciting, but at one point Milla did jump out for a smoke break, and was standing close enough that I got to enjoy a clear view of her braless headlights since all she had on was a thin white tank top. Perhaps I'm too easily amused/distracted, but I was hella bored at this point and needed something to pay attention to.

After standing around for way too long we were shuffled off to chat with the F/X guys. They were awesome dudes, and showed us some pics of the Super Undead which looked pretty solid. Unfortunately they hid the pics of the boss villain in the flick. I'm not supposed to talk about what that will be, but if you're familiar with the games, this should help you out - Albert Wexler is in it.

We also got a chance to casually chat with producer Jeremy Bolt. He's equal parts chill and enthusiastic, and dropped some interesting tidbits about the project:

- The corporation makes multiple clones of Alice, but the clones keep dying in situations that Alice survived. At one point she sees all of the clones of herself that have died.

- Next one may be in Japan or Alaska (Bolt likes the idea of the undead in the snow).

- An early major set piece is an attack of a caravan by killer crows. Alice saves the caravan.

- Bolt thinks Paul Anderson should direct the next one and is putting pressure on him to do so.

- The zombies in this one (Super Undead) are much more aggressive and intense.

- They really wanted to explore making things scary in the daylight as opposed to the dark, and often claustrophobic atmosphere of the first two.

- Bolt wants Capcom to introduce Alice in the game world.

- The plan is to make this one very bloody, and there's even more stuff they are shooting for the unrated DVD release.

- When the caravan gets to Las Vegas they find the city completely dead. The filmmakers feel that this counterpoint to the usual bustling vibe of Vegas will be very creepy.

- In this flick Umbrella is trying to create a docile work force out of the zombies. That wasn't their plan from the beginning, but now they want to exploit the results of the T-Virus outbreak.

Then it was off to chat with the talent, and you can look forward to the interviews with Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr and Ali Larter in the coming days. We also sat down with Spencer Locke, but the poor thing is such a polished little 14 year old that her answers, while very safe, were pretty un-involving. For example:

Do you like horror movies?
I love them!

What are some of your favorites?
Resident Evil 1 and 2!

I just didn't have the heart to make ya'll read 15 minutes of that, but she does seem like a very sweet and talented girl.

Believe it or not, that was about it. We got a tasty free dinner courtesy of the studio later that evening, and then some of us went off into the Mexico City night with a trustworthy cabbie (or so our valet assured us). That little trip resulted in the following two pieces of useful information -

- Strippers don't really dance in Mexico, they just ask you to pay $400 to take them back to your room.

- If after you leave the strip club, someone in your party is skilled at pigeon Spanish and pantomime, your trustworthy cabbie will take you to an area where the girls only charge $45 a pop. I'm afraid I didn't do my guy in Mexico duty and sample the goods, but it sure was tempting at those prices! (Everything Must Go!!)

So the end result of all the madness is that I got a couple of interesting interviews and spent a lot of time hearing about how cool the movie will be without seeing anything in particular to support that. I came away hopeful that this may bring the franchise to a pretty damn solid level, but in retrospect, I'd feel better about how good the flick was if the studio felt confident enough to let us see any notable content.

Oh well. Que sera sera.

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