By Jeff Jensen
Updated September 01, 2010 at 10:03 PM EDT

Image Credit: Armando Gallo/Retna LtdWith the movies Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen and the upcoming Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (a.k.a., “The 3-D Animated Movie That Looks Like Lord of the Rings With Cool Owls”), Zack Snyder has become one of Hollywood’s most important and successful directors here in the current Geek Renaissance era of entertainment. Snyder has embraced the role of pulp cinema poet laureate (specialty: lyrical, slow-motion studies of punched faces or kicked bodies flying through the air), and, as such, has made it a priority to do the Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith thing of finding ways to directly and personally engage his fanbase. The director has become a Comic-Con fixture (he was there in July to give attendees the first look at his upcoming flick Sucker Punch), recently joined Twitter (@ZackSnyder), and has now relaunched his Web site,, a riff on the name of his production company, Cruel & Unusual Films. Fans can gather at the Ning-powered site to chat, see exclusive new images from Sucker Punch and Legend of the Guardians, and post their own versions of Snyder’s “cruel girl” logo (“Our own little Nike swoosh,” quips Snyder), a wicked looking schoolgirl brandishing a bloody hatchet. (Snyder’s fans will get to meet a flesh-and-blood version of the character named Baby Doll in Sucker Punch.)

“Being a genre filmmaker, there tends to be a more personal relationship between them and their fans—more so, at least, than if I were making romantic comedies,” Snyder tells “You have to reach out in a really effective way and let your fans know what’s really going on. If you’re making movies that are very much of the popular culture, you have to engage pop culture.”

The cruelfilms Web site also includes a section talking about movies Snyder has in development. One is called The Last Photograph, a drama that Snyder has been working on for years and plans to produce. Another is called Cobalt 60, adapted from a cult classic comic by the late and revered underground cartoonist Vaughn Bode. Snyder also owns the rights to Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, the 1977 philosophical novel by Richard Bach that boasts a pretty intense fan base itself. “It’s always been one of my favorite books of all time,” says Snyder. “I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to do it. If you’ve the read the book, it’s the book. It’s one of those things I don’t want to f— up.”

And then there is a movie that sounds like the most Zack Snyder movie Zack Snyder has ever dreamed up: Army of the Dead. “It’s a zombie movie I’ve put together about my love of zombies,” says Snyder. “It’s set after a zombie apocalypse, about a group of guys that go after some money that has been left in Vegas, which is now a walled city full of zombies. There’s a twist, because one of guys, his daughter is—.” Let’s just say that Snyder then describes a horrifying scenario that perhaps should go unspoiled for now. Or in other words, “The zombies are super-scary.” Cruel and unusual indeed.