JUAN OF THE DEAD - New Take On Zombie ApocalypseAugust 17, 2012
On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: JUAN OF THE DEAD (Focus World), on demand today and in theaters next month.
JUAN OF THE DEAD
We should have vacationed in Maui.
Now while your waiting for your weaponry to arrive in the mail why not watch JUAN OF THE DEAD to prepare for the massacre. It’s a campy zombie romp that channels the comedy of SHAUN OF THE DEAD, but with an air of nonchalance and a dash of Fidel Castro. If you don’t like zombie movies you obviously will not like this. I suggest maybe watching another classic Cuban film: DIRTY DANCING: HAVANA NIGHTS. But if you have a specific fondness for the undead and like your films funny and Latin, stay put. JUAN OF THE DEAD is perfect for you.
Written and directed by Alejandro Brugues, JUAN OF THE DEAD premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011. The film follows protagonist Juan (Alexis Diaz de Villegas) and his gang of unlikely zombie killers as they exploit scared Cuban citizens by charging them for personally disposing of their undead family members. To be fair they do offer discounts for the elderly and children under twelve. Included in Juan’s gang of miscreants is a muscle man with a knock off Mike Tyson tattoo, the runner up to RuPaul’s drag race, and of course the standard fat friend. Together they face the Zombie Apocalypse with apathy and indifference until they discover that in order to save themselves they need to fight back.
Now it’s time to break up this film into The Good, The Bad, and the Surprisingly Political.
The camp. I love the camp. To me you can’t have a serious zombie film. Just like all supernatural beings I find them much more entertaining if they have a cheeky attitude and really insulting personal characteristics. I don’t like emo vampires and brooding werewolves as much as I like politically incorrect ones, and that’s why JUAN OF THE DEAD succeeds. If this film wanted to take itself seriously it would, but that’s not why it was made. This film has sodomite insults, a choreographed zombie dance, whack a mole inspired killings, and one really inappropriate stripping scene. The camp is what makes this, and I respect it for that.
Characters with little motivation. JUAN OF THE DEAD is a comedy that has exaggerated characters with little morals and one goal: To kill zombies for profit. Granted in a zombie film you do want your characters to kill zombies, but I wanted more from them. Juan is portrayed as a slacker playboy with a broken relationship with his daughter Camilla. He promises Camilla that he has changed yet his only reason for killing zombies is to make money. Eventually he reaches some kind of arc, but it’s only out of necessity. Not because he has truly changed as a character. The supporting characters are hilarious and colorful, but they’re mere shells of what they could be.
The Surprisingly Political:
JUAN OF THE DEAD has been previously praised for its unexpected political context. Its commentary on the Cuban government is both funny and poignant. I’m not sure if that was Brugues’ intent, but he certainly captured the run down dissent of Havana well. In the beginning of the film Camilla herself tells Juan that he never changes just like this country. It’s these lines that let the audience into the personal problems between the people and the Cuban government, and proves that the Zombie Apocalypse is just a background for the real issues.
JUAN OF THE DEAD is an interesting zombie comedy that will delight anyone that is a fan of this genre and in need of a little fun.
Kate Asche Wilson is a new contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. She is a graduate from the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University where she received a BA in Screenwriting. In her spare time Kate likes to take long walks on the beach, and watch telenovelas. Follow her on Twitter @KATEDOESLIFE
Look for JUAN OF THE DEAD (Focus) in your movies on demand section.
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