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Army Of The Dead's Zombie Skill Map

This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper.

Zack Snyder's undead epic "Army of the Dead" breathes new life into the zombie apocalypse. Not only does the film feature a reanimated tiger and a zombified horse trotting around the decimated city of Las Vegas, but the formerly-human biters in the movie have some scary new abilities, making them unlike any zombies we've seen before. With these efficient eaters on the prowl, Sin City doesn't stand a chance.

Now, most zombie lore would have you believe that, when it comes to the undead, all bites are created equal. It doesn't matter if you're patient zero or the billionth victim: Once that venom sinks in, you're just as much of a brainless people-eater as the next guy. But "Army of the Dead" takes a different approach.

The film introduces us to the zombie king, Zeus, a smart and extra-deadly government asset that escapes confinement turns the casino empire into his own undead kingdom, and rules over the city from the Olympus Casino. Just one of Zeus' bites turns a human into an alpha zombie, giving them terrifying new talents. However, Zeus doesn't personally chow down on everybody in town. Victims bitten by alphas end up as lowly "shamblers," which don't quite stack up to the alphas or Zeus in terms of intelligence or strength.

The concept of a highly-regimented zombie society is new, and it's worth exploring further. So, let's break down the zombie hierarchy introduced in "Army of the Dead" and see what these feisty flesh eaters can really do.

The shamblers

  • Creation: A bite from a shambler or an alpha.
  • Strengths: Sheer numbers that can overwhelm foes and the ability to hibernate until the time is right to strike. Dried-out shamblers reanimate when it rains.
  • Weaknesses: They're dumb, slow, and easy to kill.

Shamblers are a lot like the zombies of yore: their sole purpose is to devour all the un-turned humans they can find. These are the creatures that will remind you most of the ones you've seen in projects like George A. Romero's genre-defining zombie films and shows like "The Walking Dead." They're not smart or sophisticated. They're just mindless hobblers in search of a living snack.

The shamblers in "Army of the Dead" do have some frightening physical skills, though. Similar to the infected in Will Smith's "I Am Legend," these zombies can hibernate until they're awoken by — and for — their dinner. Meanwhile, zombies that have dried out in the harsh Nevada sun rehydrate in the rain, a sight we are mercifully spared from in the film. By the time that our heroes meet the shamblers in "Army of the Dead," the zombies have massive numbers on their side, as well.

However, shamblers are still the weakest of the bunch. They're slow, they're dumb, and they're easily lured into death traps. They are also easy to fight one-on-one, so when Tanaka's mercenaries encounter small groups of shamblers, it doesn't take much to put them down. Even those members of the team who aren't seasoned zombie-slayers are able to kill a few shamblers on their way to the vault.

The alphas

  • Creation: A bite from Zeus.
  • Strengths: Fast, smart, and organized. Can communicate with each other, and have the capacity to show and experience emotions.
  • Weaknesses: Blows to the head and explosions.

Alpha zombies, on the other hand, possess a lot of skills that shamblers lack, including the ability to organize. Whereas the shamblers wander through the Strip without any real sense of direction, the alphas are social creatures that stay close to their king and queen's lair. Not only have the alphas established their own social order, but they also communicate with one another through ear-splitting screeches. However, the alphas are also sophisticated enough to forge agreements with humans, as long as the living are willing to offer up a sacrifice.

In addition to being organized and intellectually enhanced, the alpha zombies in "Army of the Dead" are also physically dominant. The alphas are much stronger and faster than the shamblers, and they work together, hunting in formations that make their attacks even more dangerous. Whether they're hopping on cars, climbing on tanks, or dropping down elevator shafts, very little can stop these hungry troops.

Of course, the alphas aren't the first fast or strong zombies to grace our screens. We've seen walkers become more like runners in plenty of other zombie flicks, including fan-favorite "28 Days Later," "Zombieland," the instant-classic "Train to Busan," "World War Z," and Zack Snyder's own re-imagining of George Romero's "Dawn of the Dead." But because the "Army of the Dead" alphas have brains in addition to brawn, they remain especially menacing.

Even the savviest immortal has its fatal flaws, though, and the alphas in "Army of the Dead" are no exceptions. As per zombie movie tradition, both shamblers and the alphas can be killed by destroying their brains. Bullets will do that. So will baseball bats tricked out with barbed wire, Vanderohe's buzz-saw, a well-placed knife, pressure plate-activated traps, nuclear bombs, and explosions of any and every type. It's a lot harder to take out an athletic alpha than a slow-moving shambler, but it's definitely not impossible.


  • Creation: An Area 51 mystery!
  • Strengths: Intelligence, strength, leadership skills, the ability to procreate, and the sophisticated use of human tools.
  • Weakness: Psychological warfare.

The zombie who is the most likely to destroy is Zeus, who hails from Area 51. Of all of the zombies in "Army of the Dead," Zeus has the most pernicious physical traits: He can turn anyone and anything, including animals, into an alpha. He knows how to use human weapons and protective gear, like helmets and spears. He is exceedingly intelligent and phenomenally strong.

In addition, Zeus has an entire army at his command, which includes his queen, a zombie tiger, his flock of alphas, and an undead steed. Zeus doesn't just lead through strength, though. In addition to being a battle-hardened snarler, he's intellectually savvy, and appeals to his alpha's emotions in order to enforce his will.

While it's probably best not to imagine how Zeus and his queen conceived a child, the fact that they have a romantic bond is intriguing. Emotional zombies aren't entirely new ideas, of course. In "Warm Bodies," the zombie at the center of the paranormal romcom maintains a morsel of his humanity, ultimately falling for a still-living person. In Peter Jackson's "Braindead," two zombies bump uglies and create an undead baby, although that mating is played more like animal instinct than true love. By contrast, in "Army of the Dead," Zeus' passion is important: When the zombie queen dies, Zeus uses his grief to rile up his alphas and spur them into action.

Zeus' bleeding heart is also his biggest weakness. While the heist team struggles to physically destroy Zeus' noggin, they get into his head by murdering his queen. Zeus is still a force to be reckoned with — a zombie scorned is a furious creature indeed — but that bit of psychological warfare proves to be instrumental to the mercenaries' victory.

At least, it's a victory for now. With multiple "Army of the Dead" spin-offs on the way, chances are that there are plenty of other types of zombies lurking in the shadows. Odds are, none of 'em are going to be too friendly.