‘Juan of the Dead’ Review – Zombie Killing and Havana Nights

Juan de los Muertos (original title)

Directed by Alejandro Brugués 2012

How can a film go wrong when you include Sid Vicious crooning Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ on its soundtrack I ask you? Answer is you cannot.

This film actually had my approval with its title, ‘Juan of the Dead’. Remember that cool little British film, ‘Shawn of the Dead’? Of course you do, it was fun! Staying in the vein of slacker turns hero, Juan of the Dead, also mixes in a political slant. The film takes place in Communist Cuba. We are introduced to Juan, and his side-kick, Lazaro. They are a couple of guys getting by day to day being a petty criminals, neither of them really showing any ambition to do any really productive with their lives in Havana, just seeming to be if you know what I mean. Juan are Lazaro are content to drink tequila and relax.

But wouldn’t you know the universe has other plans for them. Juan and Lazaro go to a neighborhood meeting that goes horriably wrong. Suddenly one of the meeting’s participants, whom mysteriously resembles a zombie out of nowhere starts attacking people. Juan not being one to aid people in their time of need of course leaves. Only to discover the next day, while watching the news there are other attacks by what the media is calls dissidents. Dissidents sent by the U.S. government nonetheless, because get it Cuba is a Communist country, and anyway read about Bay of Pigs for more information on that. I always get side-tracked, I’m a history nerd – sorry.

After a couple of days of the unrest of the undead, Juan, Lazaro, Lazaro’s son Vladi California (he is really cute btw) and Juan’s estranged daughter discover they have a knack for zombie killing. Fun and as Juan and Friends discover lucrative. The merry band of zombie killers start a business killing ‘your loved ones’. Some of the good things about this film are its humorous take on the zombie movie just like ‘Shawn’. ‘Juan’ also has its collection of flawed, yet likable characters, which includes a 6-foot tall man made literally of muscles, who is so afraid of blood he faints at the site of it, but he’s a good fighter. Juan himself is pretty much the slacker, but once he faces a bad situation he proves that he actually is not a bad guy.

As far as zombie films go, Juan of the Dead’ pretty much falls in line with the standard fare. Bloody gooey kills happen throughout the film and as always I appreciate the good old fashioned make-up and prosthetics used gave the movie an awesome look. Now, the film is not without its problems, for one we are never really told where or how the zombie outbreak started or if it was isolated to just Cuba. I know these are not important plot elements, but I was a little curious. The ending also annoyed me just a bit, but since I’m not here to spoil, let’s just say Juan is not this person. Yes, he loved his daughter and friends, but REALLY?

Juan of the Dead is currently available on DVD. See it!