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Reel Toronto: Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Because everyone needs a break now and then, Reel Toronto is going on temporary hiatus. Here is one of our favourite installments, which originally ran on October 21, 2008.

Many thought Royson James finally went too far in his attacks on Toronto's council...

Last time out we went for zombie movies and, what with Halloween looming, it only made sense to keep up the theme for the time being. Combine zombies with one of the surest bets for a solid movie—a video game as source material—and you can’t help but end up with a classic like [amazon asin=0767834739&text=Resident Evil].

Another beautiful day in fair Raccoon City.

Never before have we seen a film that so gleefully revels in its Toronto-ness without actually taking place in Toronto. They get away with it primarily because the setting is not some other real city, but rather the fictional Raccoon City, which, come to think of it, is not so far-fetched as an alternate name for the 416.
Since there is so much evidence that Toronto loves zombies, it seems rather perfect, actually.

Suburban hell.

The flick starts off with an actiony teaser, leading into a careful roundup of people before the big zombie invasion. The Men-in-Black SUVs hit the suburbs first, including this generic Brampton neighbourhood. Based on its appearance in an identical context in Dawn of the Dead, we’re left to conclude that when the End of Days comes it will certainly start in Brampton.

Never believe the captions.

They also pick up a girl at a school, which is actually Central Tech.

Prince Edward could hardly be prouder than this very moment in cinematic history.

Yep, they cross this bridge, the main entrance to downtown, and even if you just rolled off the turnip truck you know it’s the Prince Edward Viaduct.

Remember when you couldn't get to the Danforth for a whole weekend because they were filming a shitty movie? Yeah, that was great.

We get to see it in a more dramatic context later in the film, when residents try to flee and get past a checkpoint on the bridge.

We hear you can buy the domed stadium in Raccoon City for a song.

Rather than Bloor Street, it seems to lead to the Gardiner Expressway….

Despite the economic turmoil, Scotiabank's Raccoon City expansion plans were unaffected.

…and then they get in a big old crash, apparently on Duncan Street, where you get to see the Queen West Scotiabank and the CN Tower. And this is all in the first five minutes!!

It would be easy to make jokes about the horrors of Hamilton, so we won't.

Hogtown doesn’t get all the zombie glory. No, Hamilton gets in a few digs too. This cemetery, for example, is there.

More proof that downtown Hamilton needs some revitalization.

So, too, is this big shootout, complete with its very visible Pizza Pizza. The scene was shot downtown, at King and John streets.

Scary hallways: don't make your zombie movie without 'em.

When our heroes return to the high school from the beginning, the interiors are from there as well as Bloor Collegiate and Northern Secondary.

Some of the hero dudes head into the atrium of the CBC building to pick up a weapons cache.

No word on how the Nathan Philips redesign will pay tribute to the epic confrontation staged here.

The finale, of course, is where you get an OD of Torontonia, with a finale scene at Nathan Philips Square. Much of the action takes place here, on the rarely seen City Hall podium, albeit with a few additions.

This is precisely why they closed the City Hall observation deck. Too much base jumping and vertical running.

This gal even runs down the side of the west tower, and she (well, a stunt person) really did it. No CGI here.

Stephen Harper's dream?

At the end of the flick they nuke the whole darned city, starting with City Hall. Yup, just another day in the life of our city: do whatever you want to our city, just come here and film, film, film.

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.


  • Gloria

    Sweet. I’ve been planning to see this movie for the first time this weekend.

  • badbhoy

    Westwood Theatre is used for one of the battle scenes as well. I drove by one night as they were blowing up a car. Scared the hell out of me.

  • _momo_

    The first Resident Evil movie was also filmed in Toronto (parts of it, at least). One day at work we got a memo that said, more or less, “Attention: We will be filling Adelaide Street with wreckage for a couple of nights. Sorry for the inconvenience.” And what awesome wreckage it was. Crashed cars and ambulances, piles of old shoes, boarded-up storefronts with fake bullet holes, overturned newspaper boxes displaying the headlines “ZOMBIES TAKE OVER CITY”. Walking through all of that was very cool.

  • Gauldar

    They get away with it primarily because the setting is not some other real city, but rather the fictional Raccoon City, which, come to think of it, is not so far-fetched as an alternate name for the 416.
    Ahahahahah…. I like that one.

  • Christopher Merlot

    The caption for the first photo is brilliant. Where is Christopher Hume’s zombie?

  • Loozrboy

    I never did see this movie, but I did see them filming a bit of it on Ossington, back before all the galleries and bistros and whatnot moved in. At Halton St., where those cookie-cutter townhouses are now, there was a run-down auto repair shop that fit right in. “That’s my neighbourhood”, I’d tell people, “all they needed to add was a few burned-out cars and flaming barrels to make it look genuinely post-apocalyptic!”

  • Cobalt

    Loozrboy, I happened upon this Ossignton zombie
    carnage too… when I used to live around the corner on Queen.
    I’d actually been up late working on something and had Dawn of the Dead playing in the background to keep me company. At around 2am or so I decided to go get some fresh air and strolled over to Ossignton Ave. As you might expect it took me a few minutes to realize I wasn’t experiencing a hallucination from too much Romero and was in fact staring at a film set instead. weird.
    You’re right it really didn’t take much to transform the street into a zombie wasteland… tho the AWOL Gallery did show up in the film as a strip club with topless zombies hustlin’ outside.

  • Rachel Lissner

    I totally saw them filming this off of Yonge when I was in town for a weekend a few years back! Too cool.

  • rek

    No zombies, but Shoot Em Up was also shot in Toronto.

  • Jason Kucherawy

    I remember people in the cinema cheering when City Hall blew up. I talk about this movie (and the cheering audience) on my free public downtown walking tours each week. Visitors to our city enjoy hearing about this movie, as bad as it is.

  • Anonymous

    Are you sure the school it’s Central Tech? It looks a lot like the main entrance to UCC.