By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
So, you want to make a badass horror film, but your budget is, um, let’s say $300 U.S. What you do have is a ton of willing extras, plenty of cheap makeup, and your wife’s cousin says he can totally do some CGI for cheap. The two things you know you want are some badass kill scenes, and a bit of sprinkled social commentary sprinkled in. What do you do?
No, not this. Never this.
Make a zombie film, of course! And, good news: you’re in Cuba, $300 U.S. goes pretty damn far. In Juan of the Dead, entrepreneur, local lothario, and former deadbeat dad Juan (Alexis Diaz de Villegas) finds his efforts to reconnect with his daughter and do a little fishing interrupted by the dead coming to life. Always one to seize an opportunity, he rounds up an eclectic bunch of friends and starts a business: Juan of the Dead: “We Kill Your Loved Ones.”
This is a zombie film… from Cuba. So, besides zombies you get a fascinating look inside contemporary Cuban society, made all the more so by the fact that the filmmakers are absolutely unafraid to take potshots at their government (zombies are referred to as “dissidents”, and just about everyone considers bailing to Miami at some point).
No cameo from Cuba’s highest profile zombie, though
The reason they can get away with this is that this is a comedy first and foremost- and a hilarious one. The humor is dirty, irreverent, and often straight up twisted and balanced by plenty of over the top gore and inventive kills. I also have to give props to de Villegas, who gives a proper to the situation, Bogart-level amount of fucks: – 1. That’s right, he’ll take a fuck, but he has zero to give.
The jokes come fast and furious, and not all of them hit their target. This flick loves its gay jokes as well, although I have to admit… some of them are pretty funny.
Sometimes you can be too ambitious. If your effects budget is less than the cost of laptop and you’ve got a fired Syfy CGI intern handling things, you can probably cut that extraneous helicopter crashing into a building scene.
Or, you know what… just go for it.
Smart, funny, and gloriously ridiculous zombie comedy, straight from Cuba. Yes, you want to watch this.
Take a Drink: every time a sex joke is made
Take a Drink: every time a zombie is killed
Take a Drink: every time there’ s a political slam (on Cuba or the U.S.)
Watch the animated credits sequence for an alternate ending, or don’t if you consider the regular one perfect (like me).