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Resident Evil's zombies are back

When Resident Evil: Afterlife opens on Friday, it will mark the fourth movie in the series based on a hit video-game franchise about hungry zombies. But how well do you know Resident Evil? Here's a primer to get you ready for the series' first 3-D outing.

The Origin

The evil multinational Umbrella Corporation was experimenting with genetics and deliberately unleashed the T-virus, a microorganism that turns people into mindless, contagious zombies that transmit the virus by biting their victims. At first the plague spread throughout Umbrella's vast underground hive in Raccoon City, but it escaped and ravaged the world — even after the metropolis is nuked as a safety measure. Corporation execs holed up in bunkers trying to manage the crisis while zombie killer Alice — who married into the Umbrella oligarchy many massacres ago but is really a deep-cover super-agent — kicked undead ass.

The Runoff

Video games have generated much big-screen crap. The Resident Evil movies, which started in 2002, are among the few commercially successful joystick-derived films. The game made its debut in 1996. It has since spun off several sequels, novels, and comics. The movie made enough at the box office to spawn three follow-ups. The Alice in Wonderland references help, but raptor-eyed Milla Jovovich plays the heroine in all the movies with as much heart and soul as Sigourney Weaver did in the Alien series. Plus, it's nice to have an action-movie babe whose chest doesn't arrive onscreen two minutes before the rest of her.

The Dish

The series' big revelation comes when Alice found out that she's just another Umbrella project, a genetically enhanced warrior with superior physical and mental powers. By the cliffhanger close of 2007's Resident Evil: Extinction, Alice had learned to clone herself into a fighting army. In Afterlife, she heads to zombie-dominated Los Angeles for yet another stand against the evil corporation. The Other Movie

In 2008, the DVD-only feature Resident Evil: Degeneration was released. Set sometime after the destruction of Raccoon City, it has nothing to do with Alice's storyline (indeed, Jovovich wasn't involved). This time, the heroes battle the unstoppable T-virus zombies as well as Umbrella's even more evil G-virus. The movie looks just like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, another ballyhooed video-game crossover that quickly got the Game Over screen.

Send feedback to film@clevescene.com.

More by Charles Cassady Jr.

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