Now for something that’s actually Cuban.
Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite zombie movies and for good reasons: clever classic zombie movie parody moments, a wonderful slacker redemption plot, and of course, Simon Pegg. And even though there is no Simon Pegg, Juan of the Dead does an excellent job of achieving all that Shaun of the Dead does plus adds poignant political satire to the mix. Of course, all zombie movies are not actually about zombies
except for maybe Zombie Cheerleading Camp that’s about boobs and zombies. But Juan of the Dead reveals the absurdity of a communist society in a surprisingly delightful way (and it doesn’t bore you with political diatribes).
At the start of the flick, slacker Juan (Alex Diaz de Villegas) and his perv friend Lazaro (Jorge Molina) are fishing of the coast of Cuba when they encounter their first zombie. Right away, the audience knows there is a zombie conflict rising, but Juan and Lazaro just take it as an odd occurrence and go on with their lives. After their brief interaction with the undead, they seem unmoved and continue what can be assumed is a typical day in Havana for the pair. They talk to neighbors, drink rum on a rooftop, peep through their neighbor’s windows, and eventually, attend their neighborhood’s weekly meeting. That meeting is where the horrific mayhem starts and the movie’s satirical intentions are evident.
During the meeting, the very patriotic neighbors sing the national anthem and pledge their faith in the country’s communism. Right as the meeting takes way, a zombie starts attacking. Immediately everyone around disperses in a frenzy. When Juan and company get to a TV, hoping to find some news on the day’s unbelievable events, they discover that the media and government are blaming these brutal attacks on the U.S.A. and are referring to the zombies as dissidents—making it very obvious they are mocking the country’s government and its manipulation of facts
like a Big Brother dystopia but with zombies.
Amidst the zombie craziness, there are a ton of “Shaun of the Dead type” moments with a hilarious Cuban twist. However, I’m not sure that someone without familiarity with the Cuban culture (a.k.a. the average American moviegoer) would get the jokes and satire quite the same way.
Overall, It is an excellent zombie flick, and I would suggest it to anyone looking to watch something different from a Simon Pegg flick, but still just as funny and entertaining. Just make sure to brush up on your Cuban before watching.
And in case you were wondering what your Cuban Abuela might say when watching Juan of the Dead, it would go something like this:
“ñoooo que ZOMBIE ni zombie, Chico. Eso no pasaba en Cuba. ¡Que paquete!”