Spoiler alert! The follow post discusses important plot points and the ending of “Army of the Dead.” So be warned if you haven’t seen it yet.
Zombie kings and queens and tigers, oh my! But who saw that zombie newborn coming?
Director Zack Snyder fills out his undead bingo card with gusto – and sets up a future franchise expansion – in the heist film “Army of the Dead” (streaming now on Netflix), which centers on a quarantined Las Vegas that’s become ground zero for a zombie apocalypse after one escapes from a truck outbound from Area 51 and heads straight for Sin City.
“Army” picks some years after the outbreak, when burger-flipping widower Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a hero in the zombie wars, is recruited to form a team, break into the Strip and steal $200 million from a high-tech casino vault hours before a nuclear missile is supposed to strike. Their mission into Vegas involves creating a truce with the zombie horde, which is ruled by an alpha named Zeus (Rich Cetrone), but that peace is disrupted when a member of Scott’s crew hacks off the head of the queen zombie (Athena Perample). Zeus becomes exceedingly ticked off (for reasons we’ll get to in a minute) and the humans have to race to the top of a hotel for a chopper ride to safety.
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Head zombie Zeus (Centrone) has reason to be irked when humans invade his Vegas kingdom in Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead.”
“Rich does a great job. He’s my longtime friend and he’s a great actor and a great stunt person and really physical guy,” Snyder says. “Five hours a day in that chair doing that makeup is ridiculous for anybody, but he just really goes for it, and same with Athena (as) the queen.”
There’s a reason why Zeus (aka the zombie who escaped from Area 51) is so mad: The film reveals that the queen is pregnant (!) with his baby, and after Scott’s crew takes her head, Zeus has his minions bring the body back to zombie headquarters at the Olympus hotel. (Fun fact: A visual guide to Zeus’ backstory is shown on the side of the building.) That’s there where Zeus recovers the zombie baby out of the Queen’s body, but Snyder confirms that it “does not survive. Not this one,” he teases.
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The zombie Queen (Athena Perample) is pregnant with a zombie baby when she runs afoul of some human thieves in “Army of the Dead.”
The idea behind including a zombie baby in “Army of the Dead” was that with zombies, “basically, (humans) are the fuel that creates the population as they get infected,” Snyder explains. (The movie’s main rule of zombification: Humans bitten by Zeus become alphas, and they become shamblers if anyone else chomps on them.) “I thought it would be cool if zombies really no longer needed us in any way. Like they can procreate, they can create, and who knows what that next generation of alphas would be like… one more step” of evolution.
Unfortunately, Zeus doesn’t make it out of the movie alive: He tracks Scott down to his departing helicopter before taking off, they fight, and Zeus dies on their hellacious ride out of Vegas that ends in a nasty crash. He bit Scott, though, necessitating his daughter Kate Ward (Ella Purnell) to shoot her dad in the head once he goes full zombie.
But the seed is planted for another alpha.
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During the main heist, Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick), another member of Scott’s team, is locked in the vault with all the cash after a tussle with Zeus and left for dead. And at the end of the film, though, he’s seen escaping the rubble of the nuked hotel with bags of cash. He rents a private plane, tired and definitely needing the drink the flight attendants give him.
The ending of “Army of the Dead” set up an interesting conundrum for Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick).
Suddenly, Vanderohe doesn’t feel well and goes to the bathroom, where he sees that he’s been bitten by Zeus and hears that they’re headed for Mexico City, causing him to drop an F-bomb when he realizes he’s the new patient zero.
Does that mean “Army of the Dead 2” is going south of the border? “It feels like that would be cool,” says Snyder, who also has the prequel movie “Army of Thieves” and a spinoff “Lost Vegas” anime series coming to expand his Netflix “Dead”-verse. “We just wanted to to have that kind of an ending, like is there more ‘Army’? Maybe.”