Categories: Recommendations

Juan of the Dead

It’s been a busy week, but I managed to sneak in a quick movie (in gradual bite-sized chunks at the end of each day) which I wanted to tell you about.

JUAN OF THE DEAD (original title Juan de los Muertos) is a 2011 Cuban-Spanish co-production which was billed as Cuba’s first horror movie. It’s a fairly by-the-numbers zombie comedy about a couple of slackers… so far, so Shaun, but the unique setting and the sentiment will make JUAN of interest to zombie completists.

The blurb: Juan is a slacker trying to reconnect with his daughter, who plans to rejoin her mother in Miami. Lazaro, Juan’s friend, is trying to connect with his own son, a persistent womanizer. They begin to notice that locals are “going crazy”, killing people and eating their flesh, and the recently deceased are returning to life. The Cuban government and the media claim that the zombies are dissidents revolting against the government. Juan starts a business to profit off of killing the zombies, but the group may soon find their own lives at risk.

On one hand, JUAN OF THE DEAD is instantly familiar: a group of bumbling anti-heroes, a mysterious infection, plenty of gruesome zombie killings… but the fact this is a Cuban zombie movie makes all the difference. For me it’s a film of interesting contrasts. The Havana backdrop appears both crumbling and beautiful (even before the apocalypse). The characters, whilst obviously living within the confines of the unique Cuban social and political system, are generally (though not always) easy to identify with. The movie feels trapped in time to an extent, yet is also quite clued-up (there’s a fast/slow zombie discussion, for example).

The plot is nothing we haven’t seen before, but JUAN OF THE DEAD is well filmed and belies its low budget. Though there are some great scenes (a mass zombie beheading being an obvious highlight) CGI is overused and the humour falls flat almost as often as it hits the mark. Those gripes apart, it’s a confident and well-paced movie, and I have little more to say than that. The cast give spirited performances and the ending, accompanied by Sid Vicious’ inimitable interpretation of My Way, is unexpectedly poignant.

The bottom line – if you’re interested in doing a spot of zombie movie sightseeing, then a visit to Cuba with JUAN OF THE DEAD is recommended. It’s widely available on DVD (US/UK) and VOD. I think you’ll probably have forgotten much of it once the (excellently visualised) end credits have finished rolling, but I’m sure you’ll have enjoyed the ride. Good, politically incorrect, blood-splattered fun!

djmoody

Share
Published by
djmoody
Tags: Juan of the DeadPost-Apocalyptic Movie Club

Recent Posts

Look into the face of the monster

I am working hard to become a bona fide creature of horror. The picture below, ladies and gentleman, is a…

2 weeks ago

Always happy to be compared to Carpenter’s THE THING…

Thanks to This is Horror for a great review of ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING. Rich Cosgrove…

3 weeks ago

Looking back at the AUTUMN movie

So, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times in the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the AUTUMN series…

4 weeks ago

The Shape of Water

A fairly predictable film recommendation from me today. I make no secret of the fact that I owe GUILLERMO DEL…

1 month ago

I should be working (but instead I’m reading)

I really should be working, but it's been a while since I got hold of a copy of SCREAM and,…

1 month ago

MOON

How long’s it been since I recommended a film here? A quick glance back shows that it’s 4 months since…

2 months ago