Zack Snyder has returned to his zombie roots with the new genre-blurring Netflix movie “Army Of The Dead”. And star Dave Bautista is happy to be along for the ride.
“I made a movie called ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ a long time ago and after the experience, I was really obsessed with the tone on top of the genre aspect,” Snyder tells ET Canada in a Q&A for “Army Of The Dead”, in which Bautista leads a group of mercenaries into a zombie wasteland to pull off a massive heist. It’s that blending of genres — action, zombies, and heist films — that got Snyder excited.
“Zombie movies can combine many different genres and also social commentary and a lot of great stuff we get from the genre, but I was inspired by a lot of the movies like ‘Escape From New York’, ‘Aliens’, ‘The Thing’, as well as zombie movies themselves,” he explains. “I really got obsessed with the idea of tropes and accepted rules of the zombie world and started playing with them in my mind and was trying to create a scenario where you could play with the tropes of the cinematic universe and have a lot of fun. I started thinking about it after [“Dawn of the Dead”] and just put it on the back burner.”
Signing on to work with Snyder was a no-brainer for Bautista, who tells ET Canada, “I’ve been wanting to prove myself as an actor and I was avoiding action roles at the time. It was described to me as a zombie film…but when we had the conversation and I understood what it was, there were a lot of layers of entertainment going on — being a zombie movie, being a heist, being a conflict drama.”
Bautista tells Snyder he “just wanted to work with you for years,” adding, “‘300’ was a gamechanger for me. I wanted to watch and study the way you work and see what you were looking at through the camera.”
And it seems Bautista was exactly the kind of actor Snyder was looking for.
“I knew that this role was gonna require: he’s a dad, he’s also a badass, he’s a killer, he has this conflict going on in his own life…he’s very capable at the mission with the job at hand,” Snyder, who also co-wrote the film, says of Bautista’s character.
But it’s also the movie’s genre-bending that hooked Bautista who affirms “Army Of The Dead” is “not all blood and gore and terror, it’s also self-aware,” which is exactly what Snyder was going for.
Snyder explains he “wanted the movie to be a genre-busting movie, slightly self-aware, it knows what it is and it allows there to be a little bit of that dry humour. Visually it does the same thing. There is a sort of funny aspect.”
The finished film is already earning raves from the film’s star.
“I’m so excited for people to see this,” Bautista says. “I’ve seen the film, I watched it twice this weekend. It’s well done. I think people are going to love this film. I loved everything about it. That’s what I was after as a performer. What a strong cast overall, everybody just pops.”
“Army Of The Dead” will play in select theatres on May 14 before arriving on Netflix on May 21.