Netflix has released a new featurette for Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, diving into how breakout star Valentine the zombie tiger was brought to decaying and decomposing life in the apocalyptic zombie heist thriller.
Snyder is hardly a director who thrives on subtlety, so when the first trailer for Army of the Dead arrived and introduced Valentine to the masses, nobody was really surprised. Of course the bombastic filmmaker would turn a Las Vegas staple into a bloodthirsty feral beast, but it took a lot of work to bring the big cat to animated life.
VFX supervisor Marcus Taormina details the process, which involved finding a real-life tiger that would match the dimensions they had in mind for Valentine to use for CGI modeling, movement and all-around inspiration. As you may have heard, the chosen feline Sapphire happened to belong to Carole Baskin, with Taormina admitting his surprise that the sanctuary owner became a global phenomenon shortly after he’d worked with her, thanks to her involvement in Tiger King.
We also see star Garrett Dillahunt rather amusingly admit that Army of the Dead isn’t even the first time in his career that he’s been killed onscreen by a tiger, and then we get to see the truly bizarre sight of the actor being slammed into cars and thrown around on wires while being stalked by a man in a green unitard. Dillahunt’s demise in the movie is grisly, to put it mildly, and you have to credit him for his willingness to be launched into the air repeatedly, only to have his entire face bitten clean off in the aftermath.
Clearly, Valentine had been at the top of Snyder’s Army of the Dead wishlist since the earliest days of the project, and it was a complicated and collaborative process between the director and the effects team to ensure that Siegfried & Roy’s former partner lived up to the expectations audiences had in their minds when hearing the words ‘ zombie tiger’. You can check out the behind-the-scenes video below, and Army of the Dead is now streaming on Netflix.