Army of the Dead: The Making of the Film–How to make a zombie and more

Review by C.J. Bunce

Moviegoers either love or hate Zack Snyder movies.  His latest, Netflix’s Army of the Dead (reviewed here), is very different from the typical movie he directs, which includes 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Justice League.   Despite taking on a heist movie and a zombie picture in a major action movie, he wrote, directed, and took over the camera for Army of the Dead.  The result was a mash-up that may appeal to regular Snyder fans or anyone else.  This month to accompany the film, Titan Books released Army of the Dead: The Making of the Film If you liked the movie, and especially if you’re a fan of the horror genre and zombie films, you will want to check it out.

Written by Peter Aperlo with photos taken by Clay Enos, Army of the Dead: The Making of the Film is primarily an assemblage of behind the scenes images, with Snyder and the film crew fully engaged to discuss the production from beginning to end.  The book design kicks the fun of the book up a notch, using Las Vegas tropes to chart the course of the chapters with clever tie-ins as we meet each character and cast member, and learn about the key set pieces.

Along with the story, Snyder, serving as both director and cinematographer, incorporated use of some vintage camera lenses, which no other director currently uses, giving a moody, blurry effect to the film, with intriguing visual results.  Readers can see some of that, and Snyder’s unique approach to this film’s cinematography, in the book.

Each actor and character get their chapters, beginning with star Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Spectre, Blade Runner 2049) as the local cook and father, and now heist leader.  Others include interviews with Ana de la Reguera (Nacho Libre, Cowboys & Aliens) as Scott’s partner, Omari Hardwick (Riverdale, Gotham, Law & Order) as a tough soldier from Scott’s past,  Nora Arnezeder (Riviera, Berserk) as a coyote, Mathias Schweighöfer (Valkyrie, The Red Baron) as the safecracker, Ella Purnell (Never Let Me Go, Kick-Ass 2) as Scott’s daughter, Samantha Win (Justice League, Wonder Woman), Garret Dillahunt (Burn Notice, Life), Theo Rossi (Luke Cage), and Tig Notaro (Star Trek: Discovery, Community, Bob’s Burgers) as a helicopter pilot.  One of the best features of the movie, according to the book, Notaro wasn’t the first choice for the part.

Army of the Dead is a zombie movie, which means special effects.  Snyder and the production crew discuss the piles of bodies, the shambling variants and other varieties of zombie, including backstories that didn’t make it to the screen.  Readers will get insights into the design of the zombie tiger, created in CGI by the visual effects team, based on a real white tiger, and the special effects horse ridden by the king of the zombies, an actual horse zipped into a zombie costume with CGI applied later.  How are these zombies different from the others you’ve seen?  Find out in the book.

Great design, concept artwork, costume and prop designs, ideas used and some discarded, set locations, all sorts of photography and interviews, in a full-color hardcover edition with Las Vegas meets Day of the Dead accents.  A worthwhile behind-the-scenes account, and Army of the Dead: The Making of the Film doubles as a souvenir book, with plenty of screen-captured photographs throughout.

The movie was a fun action romp worth your time, and if you like the movie, or you’re just a fan of Snyder–or horror and zombies–you’ll want to add this to your bookshelf.  Army of the Dead: The Making of the Film is now available here at Amazon.  The movie is streaming now exclusively on Netflix.

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