Filmmaker Matthijs Van Heijningen Jr. is unknown to most audiences, and with good reason: his forthcoming version of “The Thing” is the commercials director’s first feature movie. But if the film becomes a hit in the way that he and Universal are hoping, he may soon entertain a variety of options for his follow-up, including one project he started on even before deciding to tackle “The Thing,” a zombie-themed science fiction film entitled “Army of the Dead.” Van Heijningen told The Playlist that he isn’t sure if that’s his next film, but indicated that the project actually was far into development before being shelved three years ago.
“It would be nice to do it,” Van Heijningen told us in an interview this week. “That was the Zack Snyder project. And it was in a very far stage – it was like three months before shooting. But then the [financial] crisis hit in 2008 and everybody got shrinked, so that just basically was put on hold. So maybe that’s going to be revived, because it’s a good project.”
“Army of the Dead” was written by Zack Snyder and Joby Harold, the latter of whom has also written a forthcoming adaptation of Frank Miller’s iconic graphic novel series “Ronin.” The story is set in a quarantined Las Vegas in the not-too-distant future where a zombie plague has broken out and a father teams with some mercenaries to save his daughter from the city. Frankly, it sounds like it could serve as a second reimagining of a John Carpenter film, if they changed the name to “Escape From Las Vegas.” “That’s funny, actually – I never thought about that,” Van Heijningen said, laughing. “ But it’s like, Las Vegas has been taken over by zombies, and they build a sort of Berlin wall around it, and people go in and they try to steal money from the vaults. It’s a good story. So maybe that, but I don’t know – we’ll just see what happens.”
If “Army of the Dead” doesn’t turn out to be Van Heijningen’s next project, however, he indicated he has a couple of other ideas in the pipeline, although nothing’s confirmed yet. “There’s a book out there which I would really like to do, but I think it’s very hard to get the rights for it,” he revealed. “Somebody else has the rights. It’s a crazy Russian war movie, really funny and horrible at the same time. It’s about the absurdity of the second World War.” He also suggested that he would like to continue exploring the horror genre, albeit in a slightly different way than “The Thing” allowed him to do.
“But I’d also like to do something maybe funny; comedy and horror goes really well together, and so maybe a dark comedy, sort of like ‘An American Werewolf In London.’ It’s a story about two guys and everything goes wrong, but it’s a love story at the same time – but it’s scary as hell. So, something like that is also interesting.” He also admitted that he was waiting to see how well “The Thing” performs before putting his name out there for his next film. “I think I’ll really wait for the movie to come out,” he said.
“It’s all new to me, so I have no clue what the standards are — how a movie is received, and how much traction you will get. I haven’t experienced that yet,” Heijningen admitted. Well, he’ll soon experience it firsthand. “The Thing” hits theaters on October 14th and you can get a taste with two more clips from the movie below.