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Alright, well this is the first Cuban movie I have ever seen, so it
being a zombie movie just made it all the more glorious to watch. I had
some initial doubts about this movie, but being a zombie movie, I just
couldn't let the opportunity pass me by. And now that I have seen it, I
must admit that I am more than pleasantly surprised. This movie was
I assume that it would be the Cuban equivalent to "Shaun of the Dead", probably there the name came from as well. This movie combines humor, political satire and zombies in a very nice mixture, and it just worked out nicely.
The story is about Juan (played by Alexis Díaz de Villegas) and his friend Lazaro (played by Jorge Molina) who get on day by day in a not all that glamorous life, when the living dead start to overrun the city, sending the entire island into chaos and destruction. The story was actually quite good, and it was nice to see this approach to the zombie genre.
The characters in the movie were really nice, and they had very distinct and unique characteristics and personalities, which were nicely portrayed on the screen. So aside from being a zombie movie, the director gave the actors great chances to let the characters grow and develop on the screen. The group of survivors was made up of very different people, each with their own unique characteristics, which was really great, because there was something for almost everyone's liking here; heroic leader, funny sidekick, tough woman, muscular man who is scared of blood, über-gay guy, and much more.
"Juan of the Dead" was actually nicely made. There was a very nice sense of authenticity to the movie, as if you were there in Cuban with the people in the movie. And the zombies were actually quite nicely made as well, in regards to make-up and prosthetics. However, what really made this movie work was the humor, and the way it was used. I was thoroughly amused throughout the movie, and I loved the sense of humor that Lazaro had, he was just beyond cool.
There were some nice new ideas introduced in the movie as well, stuff that haven't been seen in zombie movies before. I especially liked the scene with the pickup truck with the harpoon and the tow cable. That was awesome. I will not give away the detail here, just watch it for yourself.
If you like zombie movies, then you definitely do not want to miss out on "Juan of the Dead", because it is indeed great fun, and with "Juan of the Dead" director Alejandro Brugués has put Cuba on the world map of the zombie outbreak. This movie was even far better than so many of the American produced low budget zombie movies out on the market. So "Juan of the Dead" is really a zombie movie to take notice of. Even if you are reluctant to foreign language movies, then you should sit down to watch "Juan of the Dead" if you like zombie movies, trust me!
Two rotten thumbs up for this movie.
Juan of the Dead is the first Cuban Zombie movie ever made. Juan and
his friend, Lazaro, wake up one morning to a Zombie invasion in Havana.
The Cuban government is reporting that the Zombie outbreak is
"Americans trying to undermine the Cuban government". Obviously poking
fun at the Cuban's political propaganda.
Juan and his friends decide that they can make a successful small business by killing and disposing of Zombies. For a small fee Juan can dispose of your unwanted loved ones for you. So an unlikely bunch of heroes come together and arm themselves to rid the city of Zombies for a profit.
What makes this movie special is that you get a real up close and personal view of what it is like to live in Havana under the Communist Regime. The scenery is beautiful and sad at the same time. Havana is depicted as a place where Elevators don't work, Medicine is outdated, and things just generally look run down. Zombies are merely thrown into the mix. What comes across loud and clear is how proud the Cuban people are. Even when facing the end of life as he knows it, Juan does not want to leave his homeland.
I saw this movie at the World Premiere in Toronto at TIFF, so I had the pleasure of hearing the Q&A after the film. The Director, Alejandro Brugues, and his crew were excited to be in Canada for the first time and mentioned that they were going to a Jay's game before flying back to Cuba LOL He seemed surprised that the film comes across with a political message, because it was not his intention to do so.
Burdened only by a cheesy name, Juan of the Dead is zombiepocalpyse gold. When zombies infest Cuba, Juan, Lazaro, and company see a business opportunity. To give you an idea, Juan answers the phone, "Juan of the dead, we kill your loved ones." For squeamish people like me, rest assured that the zombie violence is comically creative instead of gruesome. Two words: flatbed truck. If for no other reason, see the movie for that HILARIOUS scene. The legitimately funny, light social commentary of Cuban lifestyle is unexpected and makes this movie special. Zombie-run public transportation is "no different than usual," and there are constant cracks about rafting to Miami, but "only as a last resort." The lead actor Alexis Diaz de Villegas oozes charisma and charmed me in the first five minutes. If you're a fan of how Dawn of the Dead mixes zombies and politics, definitely check out this movie.
The Cuban / Spanish production "Juan de los Muertos" is one of those pleasant surprises every day more difficult to find in the entertainment world. For those familiar with the Cuban regime and people, the movie is a very hard critic to both. In fact it seems the movie was only show on cinema festival but was never released in Cuba. For the rest, this is "SHAWN OF THE DEAD" style comedy / satire with some elaborated special effects and surprising production and technical values. Without any explanation Zombies appears in La Habana, Cuba and start eating people. Juan, a lazy fisherman; a "survivor" on his own words finds a way to make money, charging people to kill next of kin that became undead. With the help of his best friend and son, his daughter and a gay couple start a business called "JUAN DE LOS MUERTOS" or "JUAN OF THE DEAD". Obviously things get more complicated than them or the Cuban government expect. The language could be a limitation for not Spanish speakers; some puns are almost impossible to translate; even worse not knowing Cuban idiosyncrasy. In one of the most celebrated jokes, Juan is asked to kill a cow but he refuses because it is too dangerous. In Cuba killing a cow is worse crime than killing people. The other problem with the movie is that attempting to mock every dramatic cliché in movies (like daughter hating father, friend about to die, farewell , even MATRIX style fights) drags the pace down for some moments. Behind the comedy there is serious critic to the Cuban regime (the zombies are call "DISSIDENTS" , the news are always accusing USA of an attack and stating that everything is controlled even when nothing is being done). However the worst criticism goes to the Cuban society main defects; their selfishness (nobody helps anybody and less for free), their arrogance ("we are invincible" is stated many times), laziness and lack of interest in fighting (let's take a boat and move to Miami seems to be the only solution). In brief; if you are Cuban or with Latin roots; you must see it; if you are not, give it a try; will not be disappointed.
i found this film by chance on cable, what a gem, as you probably know it is based in Havana, which makes for an added interest,similar in basic story line to 'shaun of the dead', but that's where the similarities end, except for the humour, which was very refreshing. the main character is very likable as is his sidekick. their cosy lifestyle is interrupted by zombies.I like how they don't explain where they have come from, they are just there, with typical govt reports on the television news, that anybody could imagine any govt in any country putting out. some other reviewers have mentioned the decaying state of where the main characters live, as being a sign of how Cuba is under the communist state, but there are very similar slums in America. I would recommend this film to anybody who likes zombie films.
After the popularity of Shaun of the Dead, the zombie film culture
created by George Romero jumped back center stage with hundreds of
films hitting the shelves. Just like every other genre, there are good
and bad ones, but when they are bad they are usually unwatchable, but
when they work they are great fun. The latest attempt at this genre
Juan of the Dead, not only shares a similar title, but takes the same
direction of Shaun, but could this Cuban zombie flick have any chance
of living up to its potential? Juan of the Dead follows Juan and his
rag tag group of friends that try to take advantage of the zombie
outbreak by charging people to kill them. With his new found business
motto "we'll kill your beloved ones" they set out on a rampage of
survival, profit, and carnage. While this film is produced and could be
looked at as a rip off of Shaun it sets its own tone to create a funny,
bloody good time. The story is pretty simple with just enough story
idea to keep the film moving, but not enough to clutter it with
unnecessary plot holes. At first it seems like it may be a bit low
budget, but quickly showcases some great make-up work with the zombie
effects and does not hold back on the blood. Much like most these days
it mixes CG and practical effects blood, but is executed great. This
film also sports some interesting cast of characters and over the top
humor that helps to step this film up to the level deserving of this
genre. There is no shortage of zombie killing action as well as some
surprisingly creative kills.
Don't let the fact that this movie is subtitled deter you from checking it out. This is easily one of the better additions to this genre to come along in some time. Everything about it works to create an over the top zombie killing gore fest that any fans of the genre will love. Even though they aren't directly connected to each other, this is a great companion film to Shaun of the Dead that will hopefully catch on and get the respect it deserves.
The movie tries to combine serious matters (of political nature and I'm
guessing there are even more stabs at the current political situation
hidden in the dialogue if you understand it), with some very silly
antics (almost slapstick territory). The lead actor will not be to
everyones taste and the obvious comparisons to Shaun (of the dead)
might do the movie more harm than good. But this is still a very decent
effort/stab at comedy zombie movie.
I liked the performances and quite a few of the bits (and pieces, if you'll excuse the pun) in the movie. One particular "dance" scene was quite nice. Also the very first encounter of Juan and ... the other "group" (as named in the title) is quite funny (at least I thought/felt so). It might be uneven at times, but it's a fun ride that you can enjoy
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This one goes into the top 10 zombie movies done so far. I would
consider this "Shaun of the dead" on steroids plus some epic fighting
scenes resembling the ones the game called "Dead island". Lots of fun
moments also some drama but overall a very well written and directed
There were some flaws here and there but I would consider them minor. The GCI isn't 100% credible and even the zombies are not all that well done (some of them), but the way they directed the movement and behavior of the zombie actors, turned it into a very realistic horror type plot.
The best part of this movie is the very ending that makes the story look like more than it is and not just another zombie movie with a predictable sorrow ending of the human race.
I give it a 9 out of 10 since I am a fan of the zombie movie types and I can appreciate more the depth of the story than the special effects.
I didn't know anything about this film going in to see it, and was very impressed! I'll hold my hand up to being very unfamiliar with Cuban cinema, but horror and zombies especially are my thing. However, in general, me and comedy-horror have had a somewhat checkered past. This film, however, works very well and on a few different levels: Being a ZomCom, the comedy violence works well and isn't overplayed; the characters are parodies of what you'd expect, but again only taken as far as the tone of the film would allow; and as for tone, its where this film really comes into its own and makes it well worth seeing, elevating it above the status of most mid-budget horror. The political overtones are just that, and are meant to be taken as very obvious and tongue-in-cheek, and play well with the general idea that the characters know they are being lied to by the government and just play along, and for the audience it's made quite clear that any political subtext is not meant to override the point of the film as mostly a bit of a laugh. The scatological humour is not frequent but is there and can be taken or left depending on your personal tastes, but some of the jokes are genuinely funny and work well, and the interplay of the two male leads is very similar to Frost/Pegg in it's chummy familiarity and is something that hangs the whole films together nicely. The feel of the movie is very interesting, with a good mix of a Dawn of the Dead (remake) apocalyptic desolation, with Spaghetti Western styling, against a backdrop of 50s styling in both scenery (as you'd expect in Cuba), but also 40s and 50s farce in several places. Alexis Díaz de Villegas plays the everyman hero excellently, and with a style that reminds me of some of the world-weary yet streetwise heroes you might have previously seen in older cinema. Think Charlie Croaker in Italian Job (the original, of course). I wouldn't be surprised to see him crop up again in Western-released films before too long! All in all, it mixes to make a very original-feeling zombie movie and totally worth watching.
It probably helps to have a degree of familiarity with the troubled
socio-political landscape of Cuba to fully appreciate certain aspects
of zombie comedy Juan of the Dead, but even if, like me, you don't know
your Castro from your Che Guevara, this neat little flick still packs
enough decent laughs and scares to make it a fun time for fans of the
Juan of the Dead's strongest suit is its disparate cast of somewhat shady characters who still manage to be an extremely amiable bunch despite their dubious morality and, in some cases, a general lack of compassion for fellow human beings. The film also benefits greatly from lots of frenetic zombie killing (enhanced by impressive practical and CGI special effects), several outstandingly funny moments that thankfully require no knowledge of Cuba's complex history (the funniest being a 'touching' rooftop scene between Juan and and his 'dying' friend Lazaro), some cool visuals (an underwater shot of zombies on the seabed being my favourite) and a hot heroine in the form of Juan's sexy daughter Camila (Andrea Duro).
The plot might not be anything particularly memorable, offering up the usual gruesome encounters between the living and the flesh-eaters, with the survivors' number steadily dwindling as a result, but it is refreshing enough in its execution to definitely warrant a watch.
6.5 out of 10, rounded up to 7 for the awesome harpoon and cable mass zombie slaughter scene.
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