Juan Of The Dead
Cuban zombie comedy features cheerful mixture of political comment and splatter
Another zombie film. Really? It sounds like the last thing anyone would want to encourage but Juan Of The Dead overcomes any zombie fatigue with a cheerfully anarchic mixture of splatter and political comment. If that just brought the early films of Peter Jackson to mind then you are on the right track.
Director Alejandro Brugués serves up the traditional shuffling hordes of ungainly undead with a generous side order of blood and guts but he is equally interested in delivering good humoured jibes at the everyday failings in communist Cuba. This is a country where nothing seems to work; lifts shudder to a halt between floors, prescribed drugs are well past their sell-by dates and anything out of the ordinary is invariably blamed on devious dissidents in the pay of capitalist imperialists across the water in Miami.
Juan (Alexis Díaz de Villegas) is quite happy fishing and idling away his days in the company of Lazaro (Jorge Molina) until he starts noticing strange changes in the general population. Soon there is an epidemic of the undead. To Juan and his cohorts this is less of a crisis and more of a business opportunity. He starts offering a vital new service, responding to desperate phone calls with a chipper: "Juan Of The Dead. We kill your loved ones! How can I help?"
The subsequent fight for survival balances gory gags (including a mass decapitation in Revolution Square) with unexpected opportunities to resolve personal difficulties, especially Juan's relationship with his estranged daughter Camila (Andrea Duro). Juan of The Dead is rough and ready, the effects are a little shoddy, the comedy is broad and sometimes homophobic but there are just enough whimsical moments and deadpan hilarity to make it worthwhile. It will be interesting to see where Brugués goes from here.