When the Zombie Apocalypse Happens, Havana Will Be Ready

And now for something completely different....

I don't usually enjoy horror movies. Wait. Let me rephrase. I don't like horror movies. At all. In fact, I hate them. They're usually so... well, horrific. (But I did enjoy An American Werewolf in London back in the day, mostly because of the comedic elements, but I'll deny it if you tell anybody.)

But, when I was contacted by Focus World to get the word out about their latest film: “a zombie comedy made in Cuba,” I was intrigued. When I read the synopsis, I laughed out loud. When I saw the trailer, I knew it was something I wanted to share.

Plus it's October and I'm kind of more tolerant of gore and silliness the closer it gets to Halloween. (Don't judge me.)

I totally understand that this is a departure from my usual fare, but I think you will enjoy it (or at least your teenage kids will). It's a zombie relajo set in the land of my birth.

From the studio that brought you Shaun of the Dead, meet Juan of the Dead. (He's Havana Killer Day. <--Best tagline ever. Am I right?) In Spanish, with English subtitles.

Juan of the dead


Juan is 40 years old, most of which he spent in Cuba doing absolutely nothing. It’s his way of life, and he’s prepare to defend it at any cost, along with his pal Lázaro, as lazy as Juan but twice as dumb. Juan’s only emotional tie is his daughter, Camila, a beautiful young girl that doesn’t want anything to do with her father because the only thing he’s good at is getting into trouble.

Suddenly some strange things start to happen, people are turning violent attacking one to the other. Juan was first convinced it’s just another stage of the Revolution. Official media refer to the attacks as isolated incidents provoked by Cuban dissidents paid by the US government. Little by little Juan and his friends start to realize that the attackers are not normal human beings and that killing them is quite a difficult task. They’re not vampires, they’re not possesed, but they’re definitely not dissidents; a simple bite turns the victim into other violent killing machine and the only way to beat them is destroying their brains.
Juan decides that the best way of facing the situation is making some money out of it…..

“Juan of the Dead, we kill your beloved ones” becomes his slogan. Lázaro, along with his son Vladi, and Camila (who had no other choice but joining her father after he rescued her from grandma´s killing desires) are Juan´s army, and their mission is to help people get rid of the infected ones around… at a reasonable price.

But this plague of bloodthirsty attackers is out of control. The population is helpless. There comes a moment in which the only way out people found is throwing into the sea and try to run away from an island that became a real carnage, and Juan has no choice but to do what he avoided all his life: take some responsibility assuming a hero role, to guide his beloved ones with the hope of getting them safe out of the madness in which Havana, full of flesh eating zombies has turned.

I especially loved that so much of it was true to Cuban life today. In fact, all the actors are Cuban.  And the premise that the state media blames the zombie attacks on dissidents who have been hired by the U.S. government? Classic.

It's not Shakespeare, but it's So. Very. Cuban. And I didn't love the gory parts (duh), but listening to the dialog with the hilarious deadpan (pun intended) Cuban delivery was just awesome.

The story was told creatively and in a very, very Cuban way. Juan of the Dead mocks everything that the Cuban government has sold for 50 years as “The Triumph of the Revolution,” and that's where its value lies.

For me, personally, I can barely stand the over-the-top slasher-oh-holy-hell-there's-blood-everywhere scenes even though they were way too campy to be genuinely scary. But there were a lot of moments of surprise, so I had to keep covering my eyes. Also, the zombies were really, really slow, which I totally appreciated because that gave me time to cover my eyes, but that's not important right now.

But my favorite part of the entire bloody-undead-Havana-zombie-slash-fest was that Cuba's salvation comes in the form of Capitalism. Isn't that just too delicious? 

{Disclaimer: This is not what you will usually find here on MBFCF, and I get that Cubans are already living their own horror movie, but I think there's an audience for this sort of thing out there somewhere. Also, my 16 year old, Jonathan loved it in that way that 16 year old guys do.}

MBFCF Blogiversary Giveaway #3:

Juan of the Dead (DVD)

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a DVD copy of Juan of the Dead and please answer one or all of the following questions:

  • Do you like horror movies? (Is there someone you know who is into this stuff?)
  • Zombie Apocalypse in Havana...your thoughts?

I'll choose the winners at the end of MBFCF Blogiversary Giveaway Week on Monday, October 8th, 2012 at 11 am.

Havana killer day. LOL!