Let's play a word association game. When I say "Cuba," what do you think of? Cigars? Fidel Castro? Zombie comedy film? What? You don't mentally associate Cuba with zom-coms like Shaun of the Dead? Guess what? After Juan of the Dead, I think you might.
When I first heard about Juan of the Dead, it was announced as one of the films to be shown in the 29th Annual International Film Festival of Miami Dade College. And my ears perked up. They perked up even more when I heard it won the Lexus Audience Award at the festival after being shown to a sold-out crowd at the Olympia Theater, so I knew I had to check it out if it came to a theater near me in its limited theatrical release. Unfortunately that did not happen, but was able to find an opportunity to review the DVD.
Director Alejandro Brugués (Personal Belongings) tells the story of two friends, on the anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, who find themselves in the middle of a zombie uprising in Havana. Of course, as they deal with this new kind of revolution, Juan (Alexis Días de Villegas) and Lázardo (Jorge Molina) may have to work out a few personal issues along the way. That doesn't stop them from using their myriad skills into hard cash by killing zombies for a living however!
Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect from Juan of the Dead, but with a minimal budget and plenty of extras filling out the horde I think they did a great job with the flick. It's fun, unexpectedly touching in spots, and absolutely wacky from beginning to end.
Keep in mind this film is in Spanish with English subtitles, so if you're not a fan of subtitles, you may want to skip it. And as with all subtitled films I wonder what was lost in translation. However, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the film in the least.