When Netflix dropped the trailer for Zack Snyder's epic zombie heist, Army of the Dead, it revealed a spectacular zombie tiger roaming among the dead in Las Vegas. The tiger, named Valentine, is one of Snyder's features for taking his movie, and the genre, to a new height. With the Netflix premiere set for this Friday, it has been revealed by producer Deborah Snyder that the real tiger Valentine was modeled after is actual owned by a rather (in)famous Netflix star: Carole Baskin. Baskin, who Joe Exotic accused of feeding her first husband to her big cats in Tiger King, is the founder and CEO of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Zack Snyder had his visual effects team contact several animal sanctuaries in order to get real references for their zombie cat. Carol Baskin ended up owning the model Tiger, and this was before she became internationally famous during the pandemic for her long-time feud against Joe Exotic as witnessed on Netflix's miniseries Tiger King.
Valentine was based on Carol Baskin's big cat well before Tiger King became a streaming phenomenon. The team spent a week at Baskin's sanctuary. Snyder joked at the time, "at least they got out of there alive."
The reveal that Snyder approached different big cat sanctuaries makes us wonder about the other people who he consulted before ultimately deciding on using Baskin's tiger. If he did inquire to the other Tiger King alumni like Doc Antle, Jeff Lowe, or even Joe Exotic himself, the real question is how the team ended up selecting Carole Baskin as the final selection.
Maybe the choice was a precursor as to how the show would end, with Joe Exotic in prison and Carole Baskin as the 'victor' even though she was portrayed somewhat as the antagonist of the show. That being the case, in reality it was clear that Baskins cared more for her tigers and other big cats at her sanctuary and around the world, which could have been the deciding factor to Snyder. It is quite the interesting connection between the two Netflix properties even though it occurred before Tiger King was released.
Other than having an awesome undead tiger, what truly differentiates Snyder's zombie flick from others in the genre, is that these zombies are not only faster, smarter, and stronger, but are also capable of organizing themselves to fight as a sophisticated group. The film features Dave Bautista as the leader of a group of mercenaries who are planning a heist on a Las Vegas casino that is completely surrounded by zombies, and of course, Valentine. In the trailer, Bautista is told that the heist is a simple in and out job, but those words become a murky misrepresentation as soon as the team discovers exactly who, and what, the residents of the city have become.
Army of the Dead's cast also includes Theo Rossi, Omari Hardwick, Garret Dillahunt, Ella Purnell, Matthias Schweighöfer, Ana De La Reguera, Tig Notaro, Nora Arnezeder, and Hiroyuki Sanada, as well as Raúl Castillo, Huma Quereshi, Samantha Win, Richard Cetrone and Michael Cassidy.
The trailer for the movie is truly epic in its own right, and brings high hopes that the movie can successfully blend two exciting genres and bring zombie movies back from the dead, so to speak, from the more recent entries. It's hard to resist such an epic feat that features a bevy of different zombies and even a not-so-dead Elvis impersonator. The movie premiers on Netflix and in select theaters on May 21st. These quotes come from Collider.