Who doesn’t love a zombie movie, right? The movie genre is a favorite for it’s sci-fi backstories, crazy graphics and lots of gore and now filmmaker Zack Snyder (of iconic films like “300” and “Zack Snyder’s Justice League”) is bringing his own version to Netflix with the release of “Army of the Dead.” The movie takes place following a zombie outbreak that’s left Las Vegas in ruins and walled off from the rest of the world. Dave Bautista as Scott Ward is challenged to go into the zombie-filled city to retrieve money that’s sitting in a vault under the strip before the city is nuked by the government. He has to assemble a special team to snatch the money while trying to stay alive and fend off the zombies.
While the movie is filled with lots of action, gore and blood you’d expect from a zombie movie, this one is different because the story is filled with Lowrider staples featured in the film. Think tons of Lincolns, Oldsmobiles and Chevy Impalas. To help promote the new movie, Netflix teamed up with legendary artist Mister Cartoon and Ryan Friedlinghaus from West Coast Customs to create a custom-designed 1983 Monte Carlo that was inspired by the film. In his design, Mister Cartoon leaned into the classic Laugh Now, Cry Later motif by splitting it into two halves – one for the good times, one for the bad times. It correlates with the film’s high and low dynamic by depicting the dark side in the zombie threats and the bright side in the flashy and hopeful spirits of winning big and taking home the ultimate prize money in Vegas.
Mister Cartoon and West Coast Customs are no strangers to our DUB pages, so it was fitting to get the 411 on the collaboration, the inspiration behind the custom project and more! We spoke to both icons to talk about the Monte Carlos and the unique collab with Netflix’s upcoming zombie flix “Army of the Dead.”
Ryan of West Coast Customs
How did you get involved with the “Army of the Dead” vehicle build?
The build came to me from a good friend, Mister Cartoon. Now we have a bunch of stuff in the works. This was one of the projects where he was like, “Ryan, I got to call in a favor. There’s not a lot of time, but i need this done. I’m going to create some amazing artwork that represents some scenes from a movie and I need you to print it and I need you to wrap the Monte Carlo. Then he added the tagline, talked to netflix and they said three days. So we got it done in three days.
How was working with fellow LA automotive legend Mr. Cartoon?
Whenever I work with Mister Cartoon, it’s always an honor because we’re both people from LA and build brands in LA and car culture really runs through everything we do. Form my clothing to his artwork to the cars that I build and then to tie the two brands together like this…I think it’s legendary.
Working on a Lowrider is somewhat of a change from what you usually work on at WCC, how was it working on the Monte Carlo?
When people think of West Coast Customs and the brand, they think we only do luxury cars. But, as a matter of fact we actually do a lot of old schools and Lowriders. We have two Monte Carlos in the shop, and we just finished an Impala for Corona.
What are the highlights of the build and what was the most difficult part in working on the Monte Carlo?
The highlights of the build speaks for itself. His artwork ties into the film. And for us, the challenge is taking the artwork he did on an iPad and converting it into files and then laying the artwork to match the car and, of course, given only a couple of days to complete.
How did you get involved in the “Army of the Dead” promotion?
I have had a relationship with Netflix over the last couple of years, so it was a natural project for me to be involved in as I love zombies and zombie movies.
What’s the backstory on the Monte Carlo?
The Monte Carlo was built and owned by Andrew De Alba. He’s 18 years old from Pomona, California. The build was overseen by his father and big brother, Albert Sr. and Albert Jr., who are master painters and customizers. This car is perfect for customization because of the smooth body lines and ’80s-era GM design. We chose this car because it is freshly restored, the chrome is all new and the owner is young and understands the new vibes and the old traditions.
How did you use the Laugh Now Cry Later and combine it with the “Army of the Dead” to create the artwork?
The car represents the good times and the bad sides. One side is brighter than the other, which represents the good times through the jackpots, the champagne, the women and success. The bad side is the dark side, the zombie side, the decaying elements of Las Vegas and mankind, the destruction and darkness.
How long did the process take and what was the most difficult part of the build?
The process took two weeks to design and to finish the wrap. The most difficult part is making the car flow and telling the story of the movie. This car is designed to be loud in your face and disruptive. I have other cars I designed that are subtle, quiet and less colorful.
You’re known for your fine details…what can we look out for in the Monte Carlo?
The dead zombie Elvis is one of the most impactful images, along with the skulls looking over his shoulder. That’s that detail that you can focus on.
How was working with Ryan and the West Coast Customs team?
Working with Ryan and WCC is easy! They understand my vision and they live and breathe cars and car customization. We work with WCC on a lot of our car customizing and other projects, and I have a design studio located at WCC. Their team is never scared to take on a new project or build, they always come through.
What can you tell fans to expect from this movie?
They are going to see a different take on a subject that most of us already love, zombies. Except these zombies are way crazier than anything I’ve ever seen. Plus, the fact it’s set in Vegas gives it that high stakes feeling.