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The Classic Horror Films That Inspired Resident Evil

Plenty of horror movies have been made into video games, including the Evil Dead series and the legendary Blair Witch films. Not all of these adaptations have been winners, of course, but the video game industry has managed to scare up some truly terrifying video games over the years. One of the creepiest and most enduring horror game franchises has been the Resident Evil series, which was originally created by Shinji Mikami.

Japanese YouTube channel Archipel explored the origins of Resident Evil in a short documentary called Shinji Mikami, the birth of the survival horror game. In this doc, Shinji Mikami revisited the development process of several games in the franchise. In the process, he revealed a few of the classic horror films that inspired him to create Resident Evil's story and some of its most iconic monsters. You may be surprised to learn that Resident Evil went through some very drastic alterations, thanks to the existence of a few key horror flicks.

Dawn of the Dead

While the first Resident Evil seems like a game that had a clear vision from the beginning, it actually changed quite a bit during early development. According to Shinji Mikami, the game was originally going to be about ghosts, which he felt was the scariest thing he could think of. About a month into production, however, Mikami started to have doubts regarding the ghostly angle. After deciding that his original idea for the game would probably have satisfied horror fans, but might not have attained mainstream success, Mikami scrapped his progress and started over.

It was at this point that Mikami recalled watching 1978's Dawn of the Dead as a young man, and he realized that zombies could be truly scary. He felt that putting players in charge of the characters fighting for survival against the undead would be hugely satisfying. After all, Mikami reasoned, audiences spend so much of their time yelling at the characters in horror films to make better decisions. "But in a game," said Mikami, "you can choose whether to fight or to run away."

After hitting upon this concept, Mikami fully ditched the ghosts for zombies. The rest was gaming history.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a hugely influential movie, even in the world of video games. In fact, there was a (terrible) Atari 2600 game based on this infamous horror film back in the early 80s. Lead antagonist Leatherface has also been featured as a guest character in Dead By Daylight and Mortal Kombat 11. Aside from that, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre also managed to inspire a particular monster in the Resident Evil series.

Shinji Mikami explained that there was one scene from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre that really stuck with him. During the sequence in question, Leatherface hit a victim over the head and dragged him across the room "like cattle." Mikami liked the suddenness of that attack and wanted an enemy introduction in Resident Evil to have a similar feel. To that end, he introduced the Hunter creature, which likewise surprised the player and posed an immediately threat.

Of course, later Resident Evil entries, such as Resident Evil 4, would also introduce a chainsaw-wielding madman as a recurring enemy. The influence of classic horror cinema obviously reverberated through the rest of the series.