Newly released in time for its premiere on Netflix, Titan Books has published a making of Army of the Dead book for superfans and fans of cinema. Written by Peter Aperlo with photography by Clay Enos, this book features interviews with the creators, an intro from screenwriter Shay Hatten, and plenty of production stills. It’s a book that never goes too deep into the production, but certainly covers most of the bases.
For a book about zombies, it saves the best for last as this book opens by detailing the main characters after a brief introduction. The first chapter is titled “The High Rollers,” features info about characters like Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera), and Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick). Each character gets a full-page spread featuring them in a half-zombie digital painting along with some stylized single-color art behind them. Chapters are mostly focused about who the character is–as if we haven’t seen the film–with quotes from each actor, plenty of photography, and a tattoo for each character as well.
Focusing on the character, rather than the actor, makes this and subsequent supporting character chapters a bit more high-level. Bautista does talk a bit about director Zack Snyder picking him personally for the film though it never feels that intimate in the interviews.
This chapter also features details about the weapons used in the movie as well as the taco truck that appears in the film. Surprisingly there’s a lot of time spent on Vanderohe’s saw, which wasn’t used much in the final cut of the film. While there are plenty of quotes from actors and factoids to be found, this section did teach me something new about film. The term “sceniced” is used in regards to Vanderohe’s saw, which refers to the process of decorating, aging, and embellishing a prop.
Following this is a chapter called “The Bankroll” about Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Martin (Garret Dillahunt) that naturally groups the bad guys in the film. This is followed by “The Wild Cards” which features the rest of the main characters in Ward’s crew. Most characters get at least two pages devoted to them, some as much as four pages, though it’s clear the content is sparser for some characters. You can always tell when an entire page is devoted to a single quote. Likely readers will find the characters they like most and read about them as not every character in this film is quite as compelling as the next.
At 98 pages into this book, we finally get to the meat and potatoes featuring details on the various zombies. The chapter is called “The House Edge” and gives us a closer look at the zombie design, design of the main villain Zeus as well as his bride the Zombie Queen. Once again, most of the art is photography although there is an entire page devoted to Zeus in a computer rendering. There’s also an epic double-page splash painting of Zeus clad in a cape standing on the top of one of the buildings in Las Vegas. These scenes help detail why they went with the looks of the shambles versus the Alpha’s and other zombie types. If you enjoyed the zombie tiger gear up as they are also given ample detail. I
The final five chapters are devoted to specific scenes and set design. The opening scene as the Army leaves Area 51 and the excellent montage sequence of Las Vegas getting bombed kick things off. It’s an interesting choice to focus on scenes of the film near the end in such short chunks–most art books for films I’ve reviewed tend to start with the opening scenes and move through the film–which might be because there isn’t a lot to say about each scene. Wrapping up the book is a look at two major locations which are the Olympus Hotel and the Bly Las Vegas Casino where one of the more elaborate action scenes took place.
Running just under 200 pages, Army of the Dead: A Film by Zack Snyder: The Making of the Film is a surface-level look at the film. The art is mostly photography, which is rare for art books like this, but that photography gets the job done. The interviews tend to focus on character and while it would have been nice to get a deeper look from director Zack Snyder himself, what we have here is a good look for the superfan who wants a little extra info to the viewing experience.
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