“I will fuck your mother’s heart!”
JUAN DE LOS MUERTOS aka JUAN OF THE DEAD is a complete genre wetdream for me. It’s the sort of film that the second I left the theater I knew… this is a film I’ll probably see 100 times more before I die. At least it’s a goal. Not an idle one, but a hopeful one. I just love everything about it. From the opening scene on a triangular raft as Juan is relaxing before his best friend… …to the animated end credits – I was just hugging the screen with my eyes.
There’s just something about seeing JUAN OF THE DEAD and realizing that you’ve never in your life seen a ZOMBIE movie on the scale of this film… or that the film is consistently the funniest ZOMBIE movie I’ve seen… That everything is absolutely wonderful, from the dialogue, to the many classic scenes. There’s a “Waiting for Sunrise” sequence that may be amongst my very favorite best friends scenes in film history.
The politics of the film are just. Well, I’m not sure what CUBA is going to make of the film… personally I find it makes Cuba lovable, laughable & hard to leave. Something that I wouldn’t immediately think. The Cuban news’ take on the Zombie Apocalypse could very well be one of the funniest political satires I’ve seen in quite some time… I love how the Cubans have no knowledge of Zombies… instead they’re mainly referred to as being dissidents. I love that it is all… very suspicious… and sharp eyes will notice that Zombie #1 is in fact wearing remnants of a Guantanamo Bay Military uniform… so I’m pretty sure it is all our fault, but then proper Zombie Apocalypses have usually been the fault of the United States. And as a geek, I’m pretty proud of that fact. The zombie is of a floateresque look, a makeup job I later learned took 6 hours to apply, rendered the person blind, and was to originally be played by Alejandro. Until he realized it’d take 6 hours to apply and render him blind for his first day of shooting.
Juan is kinda like… THE MAN in Havana. He looks a bit as if Adrien Brody and Jeff Goldblum combined to have a Cuban kid. A kid that has fought in multiple wars and always survived. He’s a bit of a Don Juan it seems, using his rooftop telescope to find out if the ladies he woos are home alone or not. He drops in upon them from above. He’s a tall dark Bogart type of lovable scoundrel. He moves like a god and sometimes kills with the very deliberate emotion of Bruce Lee. The elevator in his building stops only half way upon a floor. He’s the kinda guy that would help the old lady up, while deliberately squeezing her keister – just so she’d take delight in chastising him. You just kinda of love this guy. His longtime best friend is a chronic peeper masturbator. Juan has a lovely daughter, whose mother fled to the U.S. His best friend, a handsome thieving Lothario. Juan wishes to be in his daughter’s life, she wants to follow her mother to Florida. Juan loves to complain about his homeland, but dearly loves it. At one point his friend proposes that he should go to America, but Juan simply answers, “But there, I’d have to get a job.” And everything about his life tells me… Juan has it right. He hangs with his friends, fucks beautiful women often and… He will fucking thrive in a Zombie Apocalypse. Like all great Zombie battlers – he has a signature weapon, one he wields so brilliantly that it does leave one with the impression that it could be a great one. AN OAR.
The film is so smart. So funny. So just effortlessly charming and wonderful to watch. I mean, the Zombie makeup and the kills are frankly amongst the best I’ve ever seen. There’s one Mass Zombie decapitation that clearly needs to be included in every driving Zombie video game from here on. Pure fucking EMPIRE STRIKES BACK! Wondrous.
Dialogue was applauded, actions were applauded. Zombie reveals applauded. There was one 7 minute continuous Zombie apocalypse steadicam in the street shot that was applauded. The hundreds in the water. The tens of thousands in the city streets shots… the casual mass destruction background scenes sometimes were beautiful in a Tatooine sunset level of audacity.
Around the time that Juan decides he’s going to wildly profit by becoming… literally JUAN OF THE DEAD, We will dispose of your beloved ones for you… He builds a Apocalypse survival rooftop training school – that he charges for. He has the most insanely fun Zombie street kill squads of all time. Just wondrous. There are literally 100s of perfectly subtle and fun film references, but not VERBATIM. Just in a way that smart movie fans will enjoy revisiting the film to try and document them all – and lovingly doing so.
Lines about Capitalism and The Empire are thrown about in a wonderfully hilarious love-hate manner. The character of Juan is not aggressively angry about Cuba’s government or the United States. Instead, there is a bemused acceptance of the way of things. This attitude carries over to the Apocalypse, which they fight through from a cheerful, let’s make the best of this kind of attitude, which was just so delightfully handled that some in the audience… like NORDLING… gave the film a spontaneous standing ovation when the end credits began… and then, realizing that the badass animated post film credits needed to be observed from a silent seated smiling, whispering “badass” under your breath and just shaking your head at the fucking marvelously entertaining and culturally revealing genre effort from a small country that has a very interesting presence in the world.
There is no news of the outside world during the apocalypse… and I love it that way. I want a Blu Ray of this movie IMMEDIATELY! As in. I can’t imagine not having it tomorrow. I just want to veg to this thing. It’s GREAT.
Distributors… Market this to the Spanish speaking Audience and the Indie Film audience as the 1st Independent film in the past 52 years of Cuban film history – and you’ll have a classic on your hands. Just a home run. LOVE THE FILM!