Dead Beats: “Resident Evil Main Title Theme” by Marilyn Manson and Marco Beltrami
We look back and examine the title theme from Paul W. S. Anderson’s first Resident Evil film.
By Jay Gervais
Paul W. S. Anderson’s Resident Evil film series not only has its fans but quite a few detractors as well. However, the same cannot be said for its music, which is a whole different ballgame with several highlights from the series’ scores. One of the more memorable themes is, of course, the “Resident Evil Main Title Theme” from the first film, which was a collaborative effort between Marilyn Manson and composer Marco Beltrami.
For Resident Evil, Anderson was looking for an aggressive electronic score that harked back to early soundtracks by John Carpenter, such as the music for Assault on Precinct 13, The Fog, and Halloween. This is where the director started to consider bringing Beltrami on board. By that time, he was already an established composer in the horror genre who notably worked on two Scream films back-to-back along with Guillermo del Toro’s Mimic. In addition, Anderson took a leap of faith and gauged the interest of Marilyn Manson to collaborate on the score with Beltrami, a duo the director felt would be the dream team to pull off the sound he was looking to attain.
Beltrami did most of the heavy lifting in terms of the full score for the film while Manson’s role was reduced to only a handful of tracks. Due to a range of new audio software being utilized for the film, the likes of which Beltrami wasn’t familiar with then, he ultimately hired composer Kevin Manthei to work alongside him and help guide him through it. In addition, Manthei provided additional music that was later revised by Beltrami to his meticulous expectations. In terms of Manson’s role in the score, he was brought on board to spice the sound up with his own unique flavors and give a few tracks the necessary "oomph." Some of the tracks he contributed to on the score included the title theme and its variation for the ending, “Seizure of Power,” “Reunion,” and “Cleansing.”
For the “Resident Evil Main Title Theme,” Manson's ideas for it mainly surrounded on how he felt Alice in Wonderland might sound if it were blended into Resident Evil’s cold world of horror and decay, which is where the childlike melody is conceptualized in the song. It’s a fitting theme for the Red Queen, which was a state-of-the-art supercomputer encountered in the film that our characters interact with through a visual representation of a young girl.
In terms of the cold and frightening world Manson describes, this is evident in the ambience cleverly weaved within the track and can be best described as metallic and organic sounding. Everything comes full circle when the track crescendos into the theme for the Commandos, which are encountered early in the film and, in Manson’s opinion, gave off a fascist military vibe. The guitar work was entirely done electronically and while it doesn’t hit as heavy as your average song from the rock star, it worked perfectly well and complemented the opening moments of the film quite nicely.
Looking back, the collaborative effort of Marilyn Manson and Marco Beltrami on this film was an unusual combination but it produced some rather fascinating pieces that stand up well to the test of time, which is something that can’t be said for the film itself.