(Though this post contains spoilers for the new Netflix film, Army of the Dead, it’s not anything you wouldn’t expect from a big budget, action-packed zombie film. But the GORE, oh my god, there is gore in this post. Turn back now if you have a weak stomach.)
Zack Snyder’s new film, Army of the Dead is a tsunami of gore, endless bullets, (unless they need to run out for dramatic purposes) and badasses. Written by Zack Snyder & Shay Hatten and Joby Harold, and directed by Snyder, the movie is a torrential downpour of blood and guts with some family drama thrown in for good measure.
Army of the Dead is not, in fact, a musical. But I kind of wish it was. I know, I know, the zombie musical has been done before but what if, and hear me out with this one, what if it was done with song parodies? I’m going to take you on a tour of this violent blockbuster via the tunes in the movie, but with my own, slightly altered lyrics.
Ready? Me neither.
First, we’re introduced to a heavily armed military convoy as it heads through the Nevada desert, having picked up its payload from Area 51. The soldiers pontificate on what they could be transporting since the contents are on a need to know basis. They figure it could be anything from the original Constitution (but the one written in the founding fathers’ blood) to Amelia Earhart (but alive) to a full-on alien. Spoiler alert: It’s none of those things.
It’s a zombie. An Area 51 zombie.
But we’ll get there in due time. Along with the armed military convoy, we’re also introduced to a couple of Vegas newlyweds. The kind of Vegas newlyweds who probably got married by an Elvis impersonator after only having known each other for two alcohol-fueled days. As they drive off into the sunset, the bride decides to get a little amorous.
(To the tune of Suspicious Minds as performed by Elvis Presley)
We’re driving a car
I can’t pull aside
Because you’re giving me head, baby
Why can’t you see?
Because you’re head’s in my lap
I’ll just close my eyes for one second
The car starts drifting over
We’re in a head on crash (a head on crash)
With the military, baby
We’re in a head on crash
Payload is compromised
There’s a zombie inside
He’s killing all the military men
And so the movie begins. The big, bad, Area 51 zombie attacks and turns a couple soldiers and they stand on the hill, looking down on the bright lights of Las Vegas.
Then, there’s a hell of an opening credit sequence.
(To the tune of Viva Las Vegas as performed by Richard Cheese and Allison Crowe)
Topless zombie showgirls gonna chase me down
Gonna bite me, I’ll expire
There’s fountains of blood and headshots galore
So crank the sound up higher
There’s a million angry zombies waiting out there
Parachuting soldiers up in the air
They’re firebombing everyone they just don’t care, so
Here come the zombies, here come the zombies
Then Dave Bautista, who unconvincingly tries to pull off being someone named Scott, gets approached to steal $200 million from a vault under the strip. If successful, Bautista and his crew split $50 million. Only problem is, there are still thousands of zombies roaming the walled off city of Las Vegas. They’ll all have to risk the possibility of being turned into flesh eating monsters. Probably not all of them will make it out alive.
It takes literally zero effort to convince his crew to join him. Not one person balks. In fact, national treasure Tig Notaro’s character doesn’t even want to hear what the job is first. She’s all in 100 percent because she hates her life “so deeply” that the thought of making a couple million for one day’s work is more than she can pass up. The rest of the crew more or less follows suit.
After accepting the job, that night Bautista has a nightmare flashback about the time he had to kill his wife in front of his daughter. Heavy guilt he’s carrying. Now, it’s time for the team to gear up.
(To the tune of Bad Moon Rising as performed by Thea Gilmore)
I see Bautista pulling weapons
This guy is digging up his saw
This one’s got lots of assault rifles
The team is rearing, ready to go
Don’t go off alone
Or you’re probably gonna die
There’s some zombies on the rise
So, with the team ready to go, they go over the plan. They’re going to bust into the joint, get the money, and leave via an abandoned rescue chopper that’s sitting on the roof of the casino. A quick in and out. Oh, and by the way, they only have a short window to do this because the government is going to drop a nuke on Vegas in a couple days. And so, our heroes head into the danger zone.
(To the tune of Then End as performed by the Ravonettes)
They’re going in, beautiful friend
They’re going in, with all their friends
To start their elaborate plans
And hope everyone still stands
In the end
The zombies in this movie are smarter, more organized. They even have a hierarchy where the zombies answer to a King and a Queen. There’s also a sort of unofficial truce between them and humans. As long as the humans stick to the outer edges of the city, the zombies more or less leave them alone. It’s only when they get deeper into the shit that they run the risk of an encounter. Which is exactly where our heroes go in order to get to the booby-trapped safe that holds all their riches.
(To the tune of Night Life as performed by Elvis Presley)
Oh the zombies are a’ shamblin and the heroes are a ramblin’
Fire up, yeah, the generator
The safecracker is willin’, makes his first zombie killin’
And he dances, yeah, he dances
Oh the pressure plates are triggered and the bullets they fly
He gets to the safe with the help of his guys
You can’t be a quitter when you’re with these heavy hitters oh
Open, yeah, the safe
There’s a cocky looking douchebag who’s not there for the cash grab
He’s an asshole, what an asshole
They catch the Zombie Queen and what he does is mean
He beheads her, oh yeah!
He wants to take the head back to the government
To create a zombie army and to make a mint
That wasn’t the agreement but he really, really means it
Oh the dickhead, he’s such a dickhead
While our boy gets to work cracking the safe, the rest of the gang watches the news and finds out the dropping of the nuke has been moved up a full 24 hours, so now they only have about 90 minutes to get the money and get out. No problem, right?
Problem. Because in the meantime, the Zombie King finds his decapitated lover and needless to say, he’s unhappy about it. He takes her body back to zombie headquarters and reaches into her stomach and pulls out a tiny color changing zombie baby. A Zombie Prince, if you will.
The Zombie King wants his revenge.
All the zombies are coming out of the woodwork, hellbent on killin’. Up until now, our heroes have been dealing with relatively slow moving zombies. Shamblers, as they’re called. But this is another class of zombie. The fast ones. The thinkers. The ones that can dodge your attack. They have forethought and planning. Those are the zombies that await them now.
(To the tune of Do You Really Want to Hurt Me as performed by the Culture Club)
Give me time to open up the safe
I need it quiet please
Meanwhile the zombies they are coming
This is a big deal
Man, they really want to kill me
Man, they’re really, well organized
Damn, they sure do want to kill me
I sure hope none of us dies
Spoiler alert: Some of them die.
Bautista’s daughter has slipped away from the group in search of a friend of hers who went missing in the containment zone the previous day. With only nine minutes left before the big kaboom, Bautista and Tig have to fly to another casino and rescue her. All while avoiding the Zombie King, or as Tig puts it so eloquently, “Was that a zombie in a goddamn cape?”
(To the tune of Zombie performed by the Cranberries)
Another head explodes and
Zombies are all murdered
And the violence is at its highest
When Zombie King takes it further
Because, as you can see, he’s got a lead headpiece
On his head, on his head, you can’t shoot him
With your guns or your knife or his knife or her guns
On his head, on his head, they can’t shoot him
On his head, on his head
He’s got a, lead headpiece, on his head, head, head
It’s on his head, on his head
Zombie, head piece, zombie, on, his head
It’s getting pretty spoilery around here, so let’s leave a little mystery–suffice it to say, some people make it, some people don’t. It’s about what you’d expect from an action zombie movie. And as with any horror film, there’s a happy ending for at least some of our characters… or is there?