Juan of the Dead – Review
Alejandro Brugues brings us yet another zombie film in an already crowded genre. Juan of the Dead, or Juan de los Muertos is a zom-com much like Shaun of the Dead. It takes the zombie apocalypse and finds humor in its social commentary on Cuban lifestyle. What we end up with is a zombie film that steps up above the average drek, giving us a new hero for the apocalypse…. while proving there’s still a little originality to be milked from what some would say is an over saturated genre.
Juan and Lazaro are caught in the middle of an apocalyptic zombie outbreak. Instead of fleeing their homeland of Cuba, Juan seizes the opportunity to make some real money. Setting up office on a rooftop Juan now answers his phone “Juan of the dead, we kill your loved ones”, and business is booming!
Juan of the Dead should not be mistaken for your garden variety low budget zombie flic. There’s a lot of fun to be had as Juan and his ruthless band of zombie killers take to the streets. In one scene, as Juan and his men are making their way home with boxes of alcohol, they notice an old man in a wheel chair trying to escape a small horde. Juan orders them to help the old man… next scene has them running away with the wheel chair loaded up with the alcohol as the old man gets eaten. Juan of the Dead is loaded with moments like this which keep it fresh, while constantly taking jabs at the Cuban lifestyle. None of it really feels like its aimed to offend, its more of a commentary on how they live. At one point they look out at the zombies walking the streets and someone states something to the effect “Everything looks normal”. Also, Lazaro’s spear gun gags never get tired and always caught me off guard. There’s also a scene that involves a truck and a mounted spear gun attached to a cable. A good zombie film always shows us something we haven’t seen before… that scene is awesomely hilarious, and one of the most memorable of the film. I would have to say that Juan of the Dead ranks up there with Shaun of the Dead as far as the comedic elements go… different, but just as good!
The effects in Juan are also pretty top notch… all things considered. I’d go so far as to say as good as any of Romero’s recent efforts. The CG may not be top notch, but its way better than I expected, and far better than anything put out by Asylum or the likes. The gore for the most part is well done, while the makeup is a mixed bag. Some of the zombies look fantastic, while others look slightly less inspired. This however is something that plagues most films in this genre, and really… at it’s worst, it’s not that bad. Where it stands out the most though is the actual feeling of the apocalypse. Settings and locations are fantastic, and the sheer volume of the zombie hordes is impressive to say the least!
Performances in Juan of the Dead are great. Alexis Diaz de Villegas is fantastic as Juan, a father armed with an oar and nunchuks. Jorge Molina as Lazaro plays the perfect sidekick and offers some of the film’s funniest moments. I actually found myself quite surprised at how much I enjoyed all of the performances.
Juan of the Dead is an awesomely funny apocalyptic zombie comedy. If you’re lucky enough to have a chance to see it in a limited screening, don’t miss it. Otherwise, when it hits Blu Ray, its an absolute must for any genre fan!