Valentine the zombie tiger in Netflix's Army of the Dead

There were a lot of cool moments in the new Army of the Dead trailer that dropped last week, but arguably the scene stealer of the bunch was seeing a zombie tiger in the middle of Las Vegas. This tiger, whose name is Valentine, scored a lot of attention on social media following the preview’s release, and one can only imagine how hard it will be for the movie’s protagonists to take this undead creature down compared to your average zombie. But here’s the icing on the proverbial cake: Valentine is connected to a fellow piece of Netflix content: the docuseries Tiger King.

During a panel at the Justice Con virtual event this past weekend, Army of the Dead producer Deborah Snyder revealed that Valentine is based on a real tiger. The movie’s visual effects team called various animal sanctuaries to see if they could record footage of a tiger for reference, and the candidate they ultimately chose lived at a sanctuary owned by Carole Baskin, one of the major players in Tiger King. Snyder added:

And it was before Tiger King came out. So it was kind of wild, and I remember Marcus [Taormina], our visual effects supervisor, spent some time, like a week down there. And we’re like, ‘Well at least you got out of there alive.’

You hear that, everyone? Army of the Dead was connected to Tiger King before it was cool. In all seriousness, Army of the Dead began principal photography in July 2019, eight months before Tiger King premiered on the same platform and took the world by storm. So it’s amusing to hear that Army of the Dead now finds itself tied to one of Netflix’s biggest hits. But like Deborah Snyder noted, it’s fortunate that Marcus Taormina managed to get all the video he needed of Carole Baskin’s tiger without sustaining any injuries, since that docuseries showed firsthand how dangerous those felines can be.

Directed and co-written by Deborah Snyder’s husband, Zack Snyder, Army of the Dead was first announced way back in 2007, three years after the filmmaker delivered his Dawn of the Dead remake to the public. At that time, the movie was set up at Warner Bros, but it then spent over a decade in development hell until Netflix acquired it in January 2019. Army of the Dead follows on the heels of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which premiered on HBO Max last month.

Army of the Dead follows a group of mercenaries who’ve been hired to pull off a heist in Las Vegas, which has been quarantined from the rest of the world following a zombie outbreak. The main cast includes Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omar Hardwick Ana de le Reguera, Theo Rossi, Hiroyuki Sanada and Tig Notaro. This is the first entry in a franchise that also includes an anime-style series called Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas and a live-action movie called Army of Thieves.

You can catch Army of the Dead on Netflix starting May 21, and naturally Tiger King is still available on the streaming service should you wish to delve back into that insanity. Those of you wondering what movies will play in theaters later this year should look through our upcoming 2021 movies schedule.

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