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Quint takes a look at Romero's RESIDENT EVIL script and ponders what might have been

Harry here.... personally from the sound of things... this is the resident evil movie that we all wanted to see.... Que Sera... at least playing with this script got George all hungry to chew the flesh a bit in an official 4th LIVING DEAD flick... that Anchor Bay is producing independently (as it should be!!!) Now hopefully they'll go NC-17 as hell and have ZERO CG!!! Romero Zombies must be real. KNB! SAVINI! TURN THEM LOOSE!!!

Ahoy there, sea squirts! The totally crusty seaman here again, this time with another tale to tell, another scar to show off if you will.

Don't worry, this isn't as epic as my LA adventure. Nope. This tale might be big enough to choke a gamin' fish... a marlin... a stingray maybe, but not big enough to choke a whale like my last report. It is in the spirit of the season. Here it goes:

I was sitting in my favorite fishing chair on the stern of the Orca after an hour of trying to lure a big porker up to the surface when my CB went off.

"Amity Point Life Station to Orca. Come in Orca."

Shit. I wasn't going to answer it, but just then the line snapped, throwing me back a little. Damn! I watched the fin of the victorious porker glide through the water like a hot knife cutting through butter into the sunset. Bastard. I'll get him next time.

"Amity Point Life Station to Orca. Come in Orca."

I huff into the cabin, glance at my bat, hesitate, then answer the call.

"Orca here, come in."

"I've got a Mr. Larry Vaughn on the line."

Larry Vaughn? The Mayor of Amity? What does he want? I hope he's not going to give me anymore zoning crap.

"Put him on," I said.

"Ahh... Mr. Quint? This is Mayor Vaughn here. We have a bit of a problem back here... We might need your services."

"What's the problem?"

"Well, you're not going to believe this, but it looks like Amity is being overrun with Zombies!"

"No shit?"

"Umm... no... We're prepared to offer you $3000 if you can clean out the town of all the undead."

"I'll find 'em for three, but I'll catch 'em and kill 'em for ten," I said.

"You know we can't afford that. It's our off season."

I thought for a while.

"OK, I'll do it for three, but only if you throw in a script or two."

He was silent. Ha! He didn't know I knew his son was now working in Hollywood!

"I'll see what I can do. Which ones do you want?"

I ran off a few which he said he couldn't get. Lord of the Rings? No. Spider-Man? No. Jurassic Park 3? No. AI? No. Hmmm.

"How about George Romero's draft of Resident Evil? Given the circumstances, it would be fitting."

There was silence.

"Deal. Now, get over here before the news gets out. This is a very delicate situation, Mr. Quint. Those summer dinks will be happy to swim off the beaches of Cape Cod, the Hamptons, Long Island. You know, beaches not overrun by zombies."

"I'm on my way, Mr. Mayor. Orca, over and out."

I whip out my trusty rifle, make sure I have plenty of ammo and then head inland.

Man was he right. Those undead bastards were all over the place. Truth to be told, the mission was actually pretty fun. I met up with Brody and we were on a mission again. Just like the good ol' days. In the end, I had a kill total of 69 (hehe), a whopping 10 more than Brody. That pussy.

I stormed into the Mayor's office. He was hiding under the table. When I goosed him out, I got my check and my script. It was the first draft, written by Romero based on a story by Romero and Peter Grunwald. Not a bad days work. I walked away with some cash in my pocket, some quality entertainment to read and a years supply of shark chum.

After chopping up the zombie remains, and storing them onboard, I headed back out to sea for some quiet time to read my new script. I arrived at my favorite fishing spot, threw in a couple lines, chucked some zombie chum and went in the cabin. I grabbed a beer, chugged it down in one swallow, crushed the can and then cracked open the script.

This first draft, dated October 7, '98, is pretty damn good. It's not perfect. It could use a nip and a tuck here or there, but it's damn good. It centers on Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine and takes place in a rather spooky house. There is no fucking "Red Queen" evil computer, UMBRELLA's T-virus is the cause of the zombies and the TYRANT is the big boss.

Now, just so you know, I have only played the game once. I really liked it, but, alas, the crusty seaman only has N64, so couldn't have direct access to it. I know some of you are going to be shouting at me because I'm reviewing this script without too much knowledge of the original material. Why do I feel I'm qualified to write this one up? Easy. While I don't know that much about the game itself, I am a whacked out goonie freak for zombie movies. I have just spent my weekend at the Alamo Drafthouse watching Fulci and H.G. Lewis splatter movies. I love the Zombie Genre. This is, afterall, a script for a Zombie Movie, not another video game.

This also means I share the point of view of the majority of people out there, who know very little about the game other than it has the living dead in it.

This script plays a lot like Aliens. This is basically Romero's Aliens. It has our two heroes going into hostile territory with a group of Elite Soldiers. The Army team, S.T.A.R.S., are made up 12 members, including "ROSIE RODRIGUEZ, a tough, body-built babe." Vasquez anyone? Oh well. Rip-off or not, I drool at the thought of a Zombie film done Aliens style. Hordes of the undead getting mowed down by automatic rifle fire. Cool.

The team is made up of the usual Military types. WESKER is the commander of the group. Tough as nails. Knows a lot more than he lets on. BARRY BURTON a "muscular black man with the heart of a teddy," is the second in command. There's the computer techie who hasn't had much combat experience, the female medic, a rookie, a comic relief duo, a "wiry Willem Dafoe type" and a handful of red shirts there only for zombie chow.

The script runs a lot like a video game. It starts off outside the Arkley Mansion with zombie dogs. When inside the group must descend into the bowels of the old mansion. They have to get to level D. They start on level A, then go a floor down to B, then to C and so on. On each floor there are more zombies and various undead creatures until they get to bottom level where the big bad guy awaits.

What? You want a more detailed outline? What the hell! It's not like you're going to see this draft get made!

We start off with a group of heavy hitters sitting at a conference table watching a video of Dr. John Marcus yelling into the camera with all sorts of crazy shit happening in the background. People running, screaming, etc. He gets attacked by something off camera and everything goes fuzzy. It then moves to CHRIS REDFIELD watching Eagles at the crack of dawn. After he's finished watching his birds, he goes to JILL VALENTINE'S apartment, gets back in bed with her. They talk then fuck.

Chris falls asleep and Jill gets a call. It turns out Jill is a member of S.T.A.R.S., the military team listed above, and was part of the first strike team set there. You see, the military types all knew what might happen, so they set a group of 4 or 5 people in that town to hit first while the other army guys are on their way should something go wrong.

She goes in. Her team is attacked at the Arkley Mansion by creatures we never fully see and just about everyone is killed. The head honchos in Washington decide to evacuate the town. Chris goes out looking for Jill and gets hassled by the Army guys evacuating everyone. He escapes, goes to his farm only to find his prized horses eviscerated and the old ranch hand mortally wounded. Something attacked them.

He follows Wesker's team's helicopters to the Arkley Mansion, a place he grew up playing in. Armed with only his trusty Winchester and a bag of ammo, he goes in to rescue his girl. Since he grew up playing there, he knows about secret doors and hiding places throughout the house which end up saving his life many times.

Of course, Jill turns up alive inside the mansion and Chris soon joins up with the Army guys. It turns out the house used to be owned by a famous bootlegger, who was caught. The Government took the house and partnered with a huge corporation called Umbrella to create a virus for use as germ warfare.

Now, for a look at some of the specifics.

-THE HOUSE- Seems really cool. It is described in the script as looking like "a haunted house, a glorious ruin, once spectacular, now mysterious and threatening. The chandeliers and furniture are covered with sheets that ripple on breezes from a thousand faults in the old walls. Indistinct noises echo within the ceiling, the floor..." Really spooky. Really cool.

-THE MONSTERS- Must be broken down into two categories. Zombies and Non-Zombies-

-ZOMBIES- Top notch. Zombies of every walk of life... or death... Not to sound too much like Cheech here, but we got Human Zombies, dog zombies, monkey zombies, horse zombies, crow zombies and, the creme de la creme, shark zombies! How fucking cool is that? SHARK ZOMBIES for crissakes! Godbless George Romero!

-NON-ZOMBIES- There in an overgrown snake that snacks on a few marines. There is a killer plant that sucks a guy totally dry in seconds. There are a bunch of those Hunters from the video game and the big bossman, The Tyrant himself.

-THE BUSH- None, I'm afraid.

-THE GORE- Plenty! I mean, c'mon. This is a George Romero zombie script. A quick peek for you little sea squirts: There's a horse that tries to stand after its been mauled and its intestines fall out. There's about 50 zombie headshots, there are legs ripped off, animal body parts "which [are] trying to CRAWL," a zombie dog eats out somebody's heart... through the poor bastard's back! Lots of zombie bites. "Another zombie appears suddenly... BITING out the muscle between [the] shoulder and the neck." A zombie bites someone's cheek off. Hunks of flesh are torn from arms, legs, etc. There's a zombie that gets melted by acid, but still comes after the group because the acid hasn't reached its brain yet. A man is half digested by a huge snake. The Hunters go to work on an unlucky bastard with their metallic claws. The Tyrant skewers a few people with his huge, bionic hand. Ahh. The wonderful world of Romero.

-THE DIALOGUE- A little iffy at times, but this ain't Shakespeare. Most of the dialogue works fine for this story. There's a moment in the script where one of the characters says, "Christ, this is like... Night of the Living Dead!" That put a smile on my face. It sounds a little hokey now, but in context it felt right.

The script ends with only a small percentage of survivors. That's good. The more people killed the better. Yeah!

Overall, this script held potential for a totally kick-ass zombie movie. It didn't seem to hold the resonance that Dawn of the Dead had, but this is a video game movie afterall.

I went into the script hoping to see why the Suits kicked Romero off the project. I'm as confused as ever now. They had a decent first draft. With just a little work it would be a great script. With Romero directing, it no doubt would have been a helluva thrill ride. I mean, you put the master in his environment and just let nature take its course.

Now, in their infinite wisdom, they hired Paul "It really says something that my best movie is Event Horizon" Anderson and he has apparently changed the script to some Matrix-evil computer genre film with none of the characters that the fans of the game want to see. Now, I'm not going to completely pass judgment on his script because I haven't seen it yet. If I get a copy, I'll let you guys know how it fares. BUT from what I have heard about it, it seems like Homewrecker meets Day of the Dead. Romero's script is more like Predator meets Dawn of the Dead meets Aliens.

I don't have a total hatred for Paul Anderson. I have never met the man. He could be a great guy. Sure, he fucked up Soldier in an extraordinary way, but I liked Event Horizon. There was nothing to that movie, but it had some great visuals and creepy atmosphere. I just can't understand the decision process is all. Paul Anderson: Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Soldier. George A Romero: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Creepshow, Knightriders, Martin... Hell, Monkey Shines is better than just about every movie Paul Anderson has done.

As negative as I've been towards the man, I just want to reiterate that none of my opinion on the guy is personal. Just comparing his credits to Romero's leaves me stunned. The only thing I can think of is the suits wanted a PG-13 movie and Romero said, "Are you guys nucking futs? This is a zombie movie, for godssake! You know who I am, don't you? You've seen my movies? You have... and you still want me to make a PG-13 movie? Arghhh" You know, something like that.

Well, Romero is reportedly working on the next "Dead" movie and has the adaptation of Stephen King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon on his slate. We'll see some good things from him. The only casualty here seems to be Resident Evil. Who knows? Maybe Paul Anderson will surprise all of us and make his first really good movie. We'll see.

Wait a minute... was that movement? The bucket of shark chum is rattling around. I creep up upon it and find a decapitated head looking back up at me, jaws snapping. Shit! This must have been one of Brody's. Chiefy can't do anything right! At that moment, a huge shark jumps out of the water onto the stern of the Orca, tipping it. Everything, including me!, starts sliding down into his gaping maw. Uh-uh. Not gonna fall for that one again! I grab the decapitated head by the hair, hold it up, Medusa-style, and throw it at the damn shark.

"Chew on this!" I yell. The head strikes the shark's head and starts rolling down his back. Damn! I'm fucked! But wait! The head has bitten down on the shark's dorsal fin! The shark lets out a roar and rolls back into the ocean. I see a trail of blood like a chum line go off into the darkness. I smile to myself... but wait? Now there's going to be a zombie shark out there. Damn. I grab my harpoon gun, tie up a barrel and put the Orca in gear. Off I go, chasing that blood line until I'm swallowed up by the darkness.

Farewell and adieu.



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