Yesterday, Netflix unleashed the brand new trailer for Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, and to get everyone hyped up, they hosted a virtual trailer premiere event where we heard from Snyder as well as Army of the Dead star Dave Bautista beforehand, and then there was a Q&A hosted by Grae Drake with Snyder as well, who gave us some insights into what we can expect from the film when it’s released in select theaters on May 14th, and then on Netflix’s platform exclusively the following week on May 21st.

Here are some highlights from the Army of the Dead trailer event that I figured fans would love to hear more about—enjoy!

Pre-trailer discussion with Zack Snyder and Dave Bautista

Zack Snyder: Well, it's great to have you; you're so good in the movie. I've been a fan of Dave's work, and I loved Drax in Guardians—he's insanely awesome and hilarious. But I knew that this role was going to require something special, because he's a dad, but he's also a badass. He's a killer, but he's trying to reconnect with his daughter. But also, he's also very capable at the job at hand. He's the leader of the team, but he's also having to deal with this tension between him and his daughter, and I won't explain why, but [she] ends up coming on the mission as well. And it was just fun. And Dave and I talked about it and I said, "Dave, I think you'd be amazing at this role."

Dave Bautista: You know me, I've got a chip on my shoulder where I've been wanting to prove myself as an actor, and I was avoiding action roles for a long time. So when I first heard about the project, not knowing much about it, other than it was described to me as more of a zombie film, so I wasn't crazy interested. I figured, "I know what that is. I know it's going to be action." But then when we had the conversation, when I understood that Scott Ward had a bunch of little layers, a bunch of things that were going on. Also, there were a lot of layers as far as entertainment value in this, being a zombie film, being a heist, being an emotional drama, having the conflict between the characters and the family members.

There was just so much more going on than I originally thought, that I was sold immediately. And personally, we've talked about this, too, but I've just wanted to work with you for years. I mean, 300 was a game-changer for me. That was it. You know, I'm a student of this game, and I love working with people that I can learn from. So I wanted to work with you, and steal from you, and pick up a few tricks, and really just watch the way you worked and study the way you worked and try to see what you were looking at through the camera. We always had real good, open communication, which helps me because then I don't feel like a director is judging me and judging my performance. You've always given me your thoughts and I felt like we were actually collaborating on this. And I felt bonded with Zack from the first time I met him, because I think at the end of the day, we are artists. We're also a little rough around the edges (laughs).

Zack Snyder: Let's be frank. I wanted this movie to be a genre-busting movie. I wanted it to be slightly self-aware—it knows what it is. And so that allows there to be a little bit of that dry humor, but also visually, it does the same thing. So yeah, there is a comedic aspect to this movie.

Dave Bautista: Yeah, absolutely. And that was one of the things that I really loved about it, because it's not all blood and gore and terror, it's very self-aware, which makes it very entertaining. So I think when a film is very self-aware and you just have fun and you just want to entertain people sometimes, I think that's a great thing.

Zack Snyder: And you're amazing in the movie. So, thank you.

Dave Bautista: Thank you. And I loved working with you, but what I really loved and respected about you is, you probably worked harder than anybody on the film. A lot of people don't realize, or would even know this, but you would be up in the morning because you couldn't sleep, so you'd just be there at work, helping people load stuff and carry stuff, and just be there like a grunt man, just working hard. But I love that you just picked up a camera and you got dirty. When you saw something you liked, you grabbed a camera and you just went for it. And that's what I love. That's so amazing to me.

Zack Snyder: I was having fun. And it was like Shay [Hatten] and I had written this crazy script and Netflix said, "Yeah, let's do it." And I had this amazing cast and it was just one thing on top of another. Then the crew that I worked with, there were a lot of people that I've worked with in the past, so it was like family and it was really easy to do.

Highlights of the post-trailer Q&A with Zack Snyder

On returning to the world of zombie filmmaking: I made a movie called Dawn of the Dead a long time ago. It was the first move I made. And after the experience of making the movie, I really was obsessed with the tone of the genre, on top of the genre aspect of zombie films. And that is to say that zombie movies can combine many different genres and also be social commentary. But there has been a lot of great stuff that we have gotten from the zombie genre, and now it's its own genre.

But I was also inspired by a lot of those movies like Escape from New York and Aliens and The Thing, as well as zombie movies themselves. I really got obsessed with this idea of all the tropes and the different accepted rules of the zombie world and I just started playing with them in my mind. Really, I was trying to create a scenario where you could really play with those rules and play with the tropes of the cinematic universe and have a lot of fun.

So that's where I started thinking about it. I thought about it pretty much right after I finished that movie and just put it on the back burner. We did end up writing a script and we were going to make a version of this movie a few years ago that I was not going to direct. But then I just recently got interested in it again, and Shay [Hatten] and I did a rewrite from scratch and ended up with this crazy movie. It's been really fun and exciting.

Zack discusses the cast of Army of the Dead: So Dave, of course, plays the main guy, and he's putting his team back together for this mission. He has this tough relationship with his daughter, Ella, and there’s a father-daughter element to the movie. Ella [Purnell]’s character is like a mechanic and she has this relationship with Dave’s that we learn about. Omar [Hardwick]’s character has this philosophical outlook on the whole zombie because he's seen things that you wouldn't believe. Raúl [Castillo] plays this cool, amazing zombie killer. Huma [Qureshi] is involved with this refugee camp in the movie, because there's this whole thing about people having the zombie virus and we're not exactly sure how it works, so a lot of it is political. A lot of the people in the refugee camp are there because of other reasons, and what’s happening with her character is very interesting.

And Nora [Arnezeder]’s character is like the coyote that takes the sheep; she's the character that knows how to get in through the wall and into Vegas, so she becomes their guide going back into Vegas. Oh, Sam Win’s character ends up being an amazing zombie killer in the movie, too. That’s funny because in the movie, she identifies herself as not having killed a zombie, but when it comes time to actually kill zombies, she's like ridiculously good at it. Yeah, a complete natural. And if I've forgotten someone, I apologize. It's a big cast, with a big ensemble, but everyone does an amazing job. It's a pretty physical movie and they all had to do a lot of fighting and stuff, but everyone was amazing.

[Photo Credit: Above photo of Zack Snyder by Clay Enos/NETFLIX © 2021.]

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.