Warning: the following contains spoilers for Army of the Dead! Turn back now if you haven't seen the movie on Netflix!
Army of the Dead is chock full of things to puzzle over, from aliens in the sky to a seemingly never ending time loop. One thing that's got plenty of people scratching their heads, though, is something very strange indeed: robot zombies.
Yep, it's true – some of the zombies in the movie appear to be very different to your regular undead hordes. At one point, a zombie's eyes glow blue, and at another, skin peels away on an undead creature to reveal what looks like a sparking robot head.
The robots are never acknowledged in the movie, which means the theorizing can run rampant. We've done our best to untangle the mystery…
Where are the robot zombies in Army of the Dead?
A zombie with glowing blue eyes can be glimpsed in Zeus' den, when he carries the body of his queen inside.
We get a much better look at a robot later, though. When the crew are fighting their way through the casino floor, at one point, Raúl Castillo's Guzman dispatches a zombie – and as it falls back to the ground, a metallic face with a blue eye can be seen.
What are the robot zombies in Army of the Dead?
They're never talked about in the movie, so there's no clear answer as to what exactly is going on. What we do know about the zombies is that some are Alphas – like the original zombie, Zeus – who are strong, fast, and intelligent, while some are the regular shamblers that shuffle along and just want to eat. Zeus is the only one who can create more Alphas, and he breaks free from a container being escorted by the army from Area 51. Aliens could definitely factor into Army of the Dead's zombie origins, then.
Snyder has addressed the robot zombies in a press Q&A: "If you pay close attention, there's a number of zombies that are clearly not zombies. You see normal zombies and then you see some robot zombies. Are they monitors that the government has placed among the zombies to monitor them? Are they technology from the other world? What's happening there?"
He also indicated that we'd learn more in the animated prequel, Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas: "I really wanted this sort of weird ambiguity to their origins – which, of course, we'll explore in the animated series."
So just what is going on with those robots? It looks like we'll just have to wait and see, but there are some clues. For one thing, Hiroyuki Sanada's Bly Tanaka doesn't really care about the cash lying in his vault: what he actually wants is the head of an Alpha zombie, which the government would pay a lot of money for – and it's suggested that's because they want to use it to make their own army of the dead. The robots might be a first attempt at crafting such an army, or, as Snyder hints, might be there to survey the undead hordes in Vegas.
The Area 51 connection might also be important, as Snyder points out. "Technology from the other world" might've made its way to Nevada, and if Zeus was the result of a government experiment, then it looks even more likely that the robots could have been manufactured by the government, too – but potentially with alien technology.
In fact, in a Polygon (opens in new tab) interview, Snyder hinted at Zeus' origins, pointing to the fact that the zombie burst from a container which, according to its shipping address, is destined for Iran: "Like, is he some sort of covert bioweapons?"
Are the government making some kind of hybrid force of zombies and robots, or did the robots wind up in Vegas some other way, potentially from a UFO? We just don't know yet, but there's certainly enough clues to keep us speculating.
As the mysteries just keep piling up, it's clear we'll have to wait a little while longer for answers. Army of Thieves, an Army of the Dead prequel, arrives to Netflix this year – and also on the way is Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas, which will hopefully shed more light on the undead's origins. Until then, check out the best Netflix movies to stream now.