Capcom And Universal Studios Talk Real Life Resident Evil
Before survival horror games existed, haunted houses kept our hearts pounding at a mile a minute. Now, modern haunted houses are taking cues from video games. Last year Universal Studio’s based one of its Halloween Horror Night houses on the Silent Hill franchise. This year the studio is blowing opening the gates of Raccoon City. We spoke with Capcom’s Resident Evil 6 producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi and Universal’s creative director Mike Aiello about the new Resident Evil house and what fans who tour the parks can expect to find inside.
Where did the idea to do a house based on Resident Evil come from?
Hirabayashi: Since 2012, Capcom has been working with Universal Studios Japan to bring the world of Resident Evil to life every year as a special amusement attraction, and it has been very well received by guests. The Resident Evil franchise is illustrated as a parallel world that has been fictionalized, yet is based on the real one we live in. Along these lines, the idea of bringing zombies and B.O.W.’s (Bio Organic Weapons) from Resident Evil to the real world plays well with the experiences in Universal’s horror mazes. We’re excited that these attractions will offer our fans a fascinating experience where they step into the world they’ve played in our video game series.
Aiello: Video games in general already have great maze-like qualities about them, and we have wanted to do a Resident Evil maze for quite a while. But it really nailed it home for us when our sister park in Japan created a street environment for their Halloween Horror Nights event. It looked great. We loved the idea of really placing guests within the game even down to placing items (lighter, typewriter save point, herb plants) from the game randomly in our sets.
Were there any classic Resident Evil moments that you wanted to get into the house?
Hirabayashi: I think guests will actually be able to recognize numerous classic Resident Evil moments at various places as this horror maze itself has been constructed based on the motif of Raccoon City.
Aiello: Creating the classic looking environments was key for us. The opening level in Resident Evil 2 has been recreated. Akuras is there in scale and serves as our main entrance. The Raccoon Police Department is as big as life, and in the backdrop for a Nemesis attack you can see Jill Valentine radio down to us from a hovering helicopter to "get out of the city!" before it's blown to oblivion.
What are some of the house's coolest features?
Aiello: The types of tricks we are able to employ to really immerse you in the game. All the characters in the maze are able to trigger lighting and special effects as well as cue audio taken directly from Resident Evil 2 and 3.
Hirabayashi: For me, it is about the many encounters with very real zombies and B.O.W.’s (Bio Organic Weapons). I hope you’ll like it too!
How does the pause screen work? How do you make that scary?
Aiello: The pause screen is literally what its intended to be, a short break from the terror that surrounds it. It also served as a way for us to create a visual moment we would never be able to do if it were moving. Our guests are going to see a "Paused" scene where Leon has jumped from a building, turned in mid air and is firing on a Tyrant that is chasing after him.
What was the most challenging scare trick to pull off?
Aiello: We have a rather larger Alpha Hunter costume. Building a space for him was hard, given the dimensional requirements. It was also a challenge creating the Cerberus dogs and giving them a presence without having to build a costume that would make them feel too large. You will see a full size dog and we've also created a couple articulated puppet heads that will burst into the scene and scare the guests unexpectedly.
What do you think will scare people most?
Aiello: The whole thing!! You are walking in the footsteps of Leon and Jill! You are in Raccoon City. It completely surrounds you! Where else can you do that? It's been great fun and so cool to realize!
Hirabayashi: Oh, if I reveal any of the fear that fans will go through in their near future, I’d ruin the experience so I should keep my mouth shut.
You can check out Universal’s Resident Evil-themed house for yourself at Universal Studios Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood during select dates between September 20 and November 2.