Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead teaser trailer featured several types of zombies populating the infested Las Vegas. First announced in 2007, a mere three years after the success of Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, the much-delayed follow-up film Army of the Dead is finally being released after over a decade spent in development hell.
With an impressive cast including Dave Bautista, Snyder’s second big release of 2021 features an ingenious premise that fuses two genres to create an action horror extravaganza. The action of Army of the Dead centers around a group of mismatched mercenaries who plan an Ocean’s 11-style casino heist in the middle of Las Vegas – but the twist is, this daring robbery takes place during the zombie apocalypse. A clever twist on the otherwise tired subject of zombies, Army of the Dead promises brutal action, twists, and violent R-rated scares that hope to revive the ailing sub-genre.
Despite their small-screen success with The Walking Dead, the walking undead have been having a hard time making an impact at the multiplex for some time now. Even outings from respected directors such as Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die and beloved franchises like Zombieland’s belated sequel Zombieland: Double Tap failed to make much of an impact upon release in 2019. However, Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake was instrumental in reviving the zombie genre in the early 2000s alongside Danny Boyle’s similarly propulsive, innovative 28 Days Later and the found footage flick Rec. So with a swathe of new zombie varieties to explore, the chances are good that Army of the Dead might be able to win over even the most jaded horror fans.
The most quintessentially Las Vegas shot in Army of the Dead’s trailer isn’t the many close-ups of slot machines, nor the sweeping visions of the vast desert and glitzy casinos. No, the most Las Vegas moment in the teaser comes when Snyder’s movie unveils a zombie Elvis impersonator, an early warning that this movie will have a solid sense of humor despite some critics’ claims that Zack Snyder’s dark, scary movies trends toward the dour and self-serious end of affairs. It’s too early to tell whether the Elvis zombie will just be one of many that the characters encounter or if its previously human self will be part of the central heist (heist film aficionados will likely recall the unfairly maligned 3000 Miles To Graceland, another Vegas-set heist film wherein every criminal was an Elvis impersonator).
Regardless of the role he plays, though, it’s good to see the king back on the big screen. Interestingly, this isn’t the first zombie movie to feature Elvis recently, as Graceland is a central location for the aforementioned Zombieland: Double Tap (although there’s no undead Elvis, impersonator or otherwise, in that sequel).
With one senior citizen attacked by the bachelorette and stripper zombies, there’s no doubt that many unfortunate elderly denizens of post-apocalyptic Las Vegas will become zombie food during the gory runtime of Army of the Dead. However, one senior citizen glimpsed in the trailer managed to survive being eaten long enough to become a shambling zombie, with an elderly zombie being seen in the background of one trailer shot.
Another classic Vegas staple, the briefly-glimpsed bachelorette zombies are featured alongside some undead male strippers. There’s no knowing whether or not the bachelorette characters will make much of an impression on the plot pre-their inevitable revival as flesh munchers, but the years between the Dawn of the Dead remake’s release and the arrival of Army of the Dead have seen hen night revelers become a cinema staple, so these shambolic partygoers may prove pivotal to the plot. The likes of Rough Night, Bachelorette, Bridesmaids, and Girls Trip have all mined humor from their hard-partying heroines’ wild antics, so here’s hoping their contribution to Army of the Dead amounts to more than a mere sight gag.
Barely seen in the shadows during one of Snyder’s trademark quick-cut montages, the showgirl zombies are glimpsed bolting up the stairs of a casino and preparing to chew up an unfortunate patron. Interestingly, their speed indicates that the showgirl zombies are the fast 28 Days Later-style zombies of recent genre outings, rather than the more placid, ambling walkers seen in The Walking Dead, Night of the Living Dead, and most monster movies that feature the famous threat pre-2000. Time will tell how big a part these Verhoeven-inspired monsters will play in the finished film, but this being Zack Snyder, it’s hard to imagine that Army of the Dead will miss the opportunity to mix the alluring and the upsetting in one arresting image.
Flanking Zombie Elvis, a handful of stereotypical tourists can be seen in the Army of the Dead trailer after being transformed into zombies. There’s no way to know how big a role these ambling sightseers will play in the carnage, but from the trailer’s momentary glimpse, they look a lot more directionless and less dangerous than the next category of undead menaces.
Not a lot is known about these fast-paced terrors other than the fact that they are distinct from slower, easier to avoid “shamblers” seen in traditional George A. Romero zombie movies, and while they are scarcely seen in this teaser trailer, the few shots viewers do get of the monsters see them leaping at Bautista’s embattled antihero.
It’s hard to tell which of the teaser’s zombies are shamblers and which are alphas, although one crowd shot shows the zombie mob moving en masse at a languid pace, meaning the many undead specimens seen there are most likely standard-issue shamblers.
Much like the showgirl zombies, the muscled male strippers seen alongside the bachelorette party zombies offer a creepy combination of sex appeal and scare factor that could only come from the mind of Zack Snyder. Snarling and shredded, these Magic Mike extras are seen turning an elderly slot machine patron into an early lunch late in the action of Army of the Dead’s teaser trailer.