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Review: Juan of the Dead
January 9, 2013Posted by on
Juan picks up phone and answers “Juan of the dead, we kill your loved ones.” Juan and his friends have turned a zombie outbreak into a profitable business. That’s the tagline but the movie isn’t really about it. You ever seen Shaun of the Dead? Yeah, it’s pretty much a Spanish remake with some political undertones but that’s alright by me. It still puts a smile on my face.
Honestly, I wasn’t that excited about it. I simply wanted to watch a new release and the phrase “…of the dead” caught my eye. I just need to get to the movie store more because Netflix is running dry and I got my eyes on a $5 movie bundle of 8 ridiculous aquatic sci-fi films. The movie is Spanish and sub-titled, which is usually a pretty good sign. I’ve found that most Spanish movies that surface at Family Video are usually pretty good. The director (Alejandro Brugués) and the actors have done a quite few flicks already but I didn’t recognize a single thing in their cinematography.
So the premise of the movie follows Juan and his best friend, Lazaro, living life, watching sunsets and pretty ladies, all while drinking tequila. The outbreak comes and J&L pursue. The plot is very simple and short, but the fun takes place outside of the premise. It’s really a fun film which does not take itself too seriously. We have plenty of entertaining moments and didn’t feel dull at any certain point. The film was perhaps a bit too short and all over the place.
The zombies were excellent: gorific, horrific, and all around zombirific. Near the end we saw a bit too much CGI (zombies hordes similar to I Am Legend) but other parts picked up. The cause of the outbreak is never really made clear and I don’t care. The characters were also superb- perhaps one of the best points of the movie. Juan is a skinny father who loves his daughter, drinking tequila, and Cuban life. The other characters are great: Lazaro who wears a scuba suit for 50% of the film; Lazaro’s long-haired son Vladi California; Juan’s daughter, Camila; the transsexual La China and his physically domineering sidekick El Primo (who can’t stand the sight of blood. Might I re-mention that this is a zombie flick?). So we got plenty of fun characters who could have an entire film made after them.
In addition, I believe there to be a lot of political messages infused in this 92 minute film. I don’t know much about Cuban politics but Juan’s daughter really wanted to leave and near the end they are pretty much forced to leave for their lives because the government aint doing shit. I don’t really care for Cuban politics because there are so many bad situations around the world that I can’t really focus on (or understand) them all. I’ve got my own issues that I follow and Cuban politics aint one of them. Regardless, there are messages that flew over my head but may have been caught by someone more astute.
Between Juan of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead? I’d hang out with Shaun because personally, I found Shaun to be more comedic, relatable, and fun. Simon Pegg had the British factor going and a (much preferred) linear story. We watched Juan wander from situation to situation, not really understanding why they are there. Whereas Shaun went from location to location with the audience understanding everything. So if you liked Shaun of the Dead, you’d probably like this. 3/5