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rochefort [Film Festival 09.28.11] Cuba post apocalyptic zombies movie review comedy



Year: 2010
Directors: Alejandro Brugués
Writers: Alejandro Brugués
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: rochefort
Rating: 6 out of 10

Cuba gets into the zombie game with "Juan of the Dead" (aka "Juan de los Muertos"), the new film from director Alejandro Brugues that takes an obvious risk with that title. There's room for plenty of zom-com's in the horror world, but when your title riffs off a groundbreaker like "Shaun of the Dead" (which already employed the same sort of riff but jeez, you already knew that), comparisons are inevitable. The obvious question is, does this latest take on the global zombie takeover distinguish itself enough to sit alongside crowd-pleasing heavyweights like "Shaun" or "Zombieland"? Well, only sort of. But it's definitely fun.

Juan (Alexis Diaz de Villegas) is a lazy goof-off who has a good enough heart and means well, but figures his productive years are well behind him; he's content hanging out and fishing, boning his neighbor's wife, and avoiding anything resembling actual work. When a weird viral breakout starts transforming the denizens of Havana into zombies, Juan shrugs it off as just another of Cuba's tough periods that he'll outlive like all the rest. The zombie infestation spreads and bodies pile up in the streets, but while most of the uninfected hightail it out, Juan and his pals see an opportunity to make a fortune. They start up a zombie-killing and cleanup operation (called, of course "Juan of the Dead"), charge customers by the head, then gear up with machetes and boat oars and get to whackin'. It doesn't take long before there are too many zombies and too few customers, so Juan and company finally resort to plan b and try to leave the city, but the only route left is the long boat trip to Miami, and there are plenty of undead in the water.

Like most of the recent crop of good horror comedies, the laughs and the gore are given pretty much equal attention in "Juan", and some of the earlier scenes of sprawling neighborhood chaos are quite extensive and rank up there with the best. The political subtext is definitely there but doesn't overwhelm, and Brugues gets some good chuckles out of the manner in which the Cuban government (which blames the infestation on the U.S.) tries to reassure the population that things will soon get back to normal. But some of the gags are pretty weak, and a couple fall completely flat, especially one scene that devolves into a pretty dorky dance number.

It helps a little that most of the comedy is definitely of the dark black variety, and several of the main characters murder relatively innocent humans as wantonly as they do the zombies, but the price paid for these minor laughs is that it becomes steadily more difficult to sympathize with some of them, goofy mugging be damned.

The welcome trade-off, however, is in just how much fun it is to see the zombie apocalypse in yet another new locale, and the Havana alleyways, rooftops, tenement buildings, and beachfronts are consistently lush and brim with detail and character. I love that, along with movies like "Shaun", the Africa-set "The Dead", the German "Rammbock", and others, "Juan" completes yet another entry in what is fast becoming a kind of cinematic Rough Guide to the zombie-propelled end of the world. And if viewed as a chapter in that bigger story there's plenty to like, as long as you can cut it a little slack for not beating some of its better-crafted brethren to the punch.

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agentorange (6 years ago) Reply

I Juana see this!

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KHWADI (6 years ago) Reply

looks Good I Will NETFLIX It today.


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