The imminent arrival of Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead will unleash an all-new epic from the Justice League director, this one a return to the zombie wheelhouse that skyrocketed his career back in 2004 with the masterful Dawn of the Dead remake. While the upcoming film was always expected to manifest as a light-hearted madcap actioner—following a tactical team’s attempt to haul a fortune located within a zombie-overrun Las Vegas—the latest trailer spotlights the shocking intelligence of the film’s undead horde; intelligence that seems to include an organized hierarchy and, yes, zombie sex. Do we have your attention?
“They’re not what you think they are. They’re smarter, they’re faster, they’re organized.” The revelatory trailer line, delivered by Nora Arnezeder’s character, is complemented by startling montage imagery, showing Vegas’s decomposing denizens in a meeting of some kind, seemingly waiting for the onstage arrival of a ghoulish leader—who’s clearly embracing a sense of style, rocking a robe and using a cane. However, a sartorially sultry female zombie—shown earlier in the trailer—is also shown standing prominently on the dais awaiting the undead alpha, at which point a quick closeup shot teases that they’re about to engage in a sensuously passionate kiss! Thus, a prospectively shocking scene might be set up for the film, potentially defining its franchise aspirations, with a prequel movie and anime series already on tap.
While the Army of the Dead trailer’s teasing of a zombie kiss—one that cuts away before the locking of decomposing lips—is not exactly inherent evidence of a sex scene, viewers would be well-advised to prepare for such a development. After all, the film is R-rated, and Netflix will be its primary platform of distribution, notwithstanding some limited theatrical showings. Indeed, a significant portion of Netflix’s original content tends to embrace the graphically gratuitous freedoms yielded by the platform’s status as a streamer. It has been a hard-learned lesson for casual viewers who thought Bridgerton was simply a PBS-esque period piece charming enough to watch with their families. Even rescued Fox network supernatural crime procedural Lucifer obligatorily unleashes occasional bits of nudity for its Netflix seasons—you know, because Netflix.
Moreover, shocking sex scenes (at least featuring the living) aren’t even unprecedented for Snyder, whose last R-rated outing was 2009’s grandiose graphic novel adaptation Watchmen, which notably contains a movie-sidetracking sex scene between Patrick Wilson’s Nite Owl II and Malin Ackerman’s Silk Spectre II. That scene could be accurately described as a quasi-artistic action sequence with nudity, flames, and awkwardly uninterrupted shots of thrusting. While Snyder’s mostly-panel-for-panel adherence to Alan Moore’s bellwether graphic novel is often cited by proponents of the movie, the sex sequence it adapts from the source material was notably subtler. Thus, viewers who are only familiar with the iconography-imbued moroseness of Snyder DC movies like Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the recent redux of Justice League could be in for a rude awakening with Army of the Dead, since a version of the director unrestrained by Warner Bros. sat at the helm this time around.
The other major takeaway from Army of the Dead’s latest reveal is the presence of a zombie tiger! Unlike some other zombie apocalypse franchises—specifically ones touting the titular ambulatory status of the dead—the reanimation process in this universe also affects animals. While such a concept might be seen as good news to fans of harmless, pocket-sized pets, it would be potentially devastating if one encounters a continent-dispossessed undead carnivorous cat. With Siegfried Fischbacher, the last survivor of iconic Vegas tiger tamer act Siegfried and Roy, having passed away this past January, the presence of a zombiefied bone-exposed Bengal almost serves as a thematically heartfelt tribute to both its city setting and the late duo.
Of course, the crux of Army of the Dead, its plot-centric heist, will bring action-ready star Dave Bautista flanked by a new rough-around-the-edges ensemble of “a-holes.” The trailer (when not teasing zombie sex) shows Hiroyuki Sanada’s role as a shady client, providing expository dialogue about a vault hidden deep beneath the Vegas Strip containing a cool $200 million (contextually, Elon Musk’s new Vegas loop commuter tunnel only cost $52.5 million). Of course, said team will have to go through an entire legion of the aforementioned horde of evolved, apparently-horny zombies, who, in Snyder-evocative fashion, very much “live in a society” in every sense of the word. Indeed, this array of undead denizens have seemingly settled in Las Vegas quite well, and clearly won’t take kindly to this cheeky coterie’s Ocean’s Undead act to steal hidden treasure from the flashy fiefdom of their proverbial king and queen—who, again, might just get busy onscreen. Rest assured, dear readers, this is just an educated prediction, not a personal wish.
Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead premieres on Netflix (and select theaters) on Friday, May 21.