Most of the zombies you encounter in the Resident Evil series are faceless cannon fodder. Nameless, stumbling corpses that exist solely to give you something to shoot at, or run from if you’re low on ammo. But one in particular, from the original PlayStation game, has not only been named after series creator Shinji Mikami, but also has its own page on the Resident Evil wiki. He is probably the most famous zombie in the series and, for many players, the first one who hungrily pounced on his sweet and delicious brains.
Resident Evil’s grim and isolated Spencer Mansion is home to all kinds of creepy and dangerous creatures, including undead dogs, giant spiders, killer plants, and bipedal reptiles that can take your head off with a single blow. But it’s George Romero’s classic zombies that are the real stars. The halls of the mansion eerily echo with the sound of their shaking and moaning. They’re slow, but the fixed cameras mean it’s easy to turn a corner, get ambushed by one, and lose a significant chunk of health when biting into meat.
Your introduction to these ancient humans comes early in the game, in a moment that is both iconic and surprisingly subtle. You turn a corner that has been purposefully obscured by one of those claustrophobic camera angles, and the game cuts to a pre-rendered scene that was the latest in 1996. A humanoid figure, shrouded in shadow, is hunched over, acting strangely. . Suddenly, a pool of blood appears under him and he turns his head to look at you, revealing a face as white as rotten chalk, a bloody mouth, and cold, dead eyes.
Shinji Mikami later dubbed this otherwise unremarkable zombie the Flip-Flop Zombie. He’s nothing special, but his place in gaming history has been sealed. It’s interesting to look back at this scene, because there’s so little of it. Today, the Resident Evil series consistently outdoes itself in grittiness, scale, and spectacle. But in the original game, one of the most impactful and enduring moments is a simple head turn. A zombie slowly, quietly turning its head and just searching in you He does a lot with very little.
Resident Evil is often dismissed as a game full of cheesy scares. Granted, he has a few of those, especially that pack of zombie dogs rudely smashing through a glass window. But there are parts of the game that are also quiet and slow. Exploring the dimly lit corridors of the mansion, listening to distant zombies moaning and the floorboards creaking beneath your feet, it’s terrifying in its own way. Turning Around Zombie is a perfect example of how the game balances its overt, overt horror with more subtle scares.
TAZ (as I will now refer to him) returned in the 2002 remake. In this version of the scene there are additional cuts showing him eating his victim, STARS member Kenneth Sulivan, whose terrified, blood-spattered face we can also see. see more clearly. He is scarier, but much of the subtlety is lost. Not seeing what he was doing TAZ made his appearance all the more disturbing. Additionally, the new version of TAZ’s face is more traditionally monstrous and zombie-like compared to the original model, which has a chilling trace of humanity flickering in his blank, expressionless eyes.
When you look back at all the elaborate horrors that Resident Evil has thrown at us since that first game, from Lady Dimitrescu to The Giant, it’s funny to think that it all started with a zombie casually looking over your shoulder. Resident Evil is so outrageous now that a moment like this just wouldn’t work. He would be lost in the noise of everything else. Turning Around Zombie may be just another enemy mindlessly creeping up on you, but it’s a horror icon that will be remembered for decades to come. Maybe Mikami should have given it a more clever name.
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