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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Juan of the Dead (review)

Juan of the Dead red light

Zombies and social satire were made for each other — this has been true since the advent of the modern zombie flick in the 1970s. But zombies and political satire? This Cuban take on the walking dead clearly wants to invoke motifs of revolution rocking the status quo and of how people cope under the most extreme expressions of communist… but the humor falls flat — waaaay flat — for anyone not Cuban, or not at least familiar with life in Cuba. I mean, I could puzzle out why some of the bits here are intended to be funny — like how folk eek out their own capitalistic livings even in a state-controlled economy, as by setting up their own zombie-eradication business — but I never felt it. And yet, the much bigger problem, from my non-Cuban perspective, with Alejandro Brugués’ flick is the nonpolitical stuff. Good-for-nothing Juan (Alexis Díaz de Villegas) is an unlikeable enough hero to be fighting the undead — his greatest talents appear to be fucking up his relationship with his daughter and fucking his bored neighbor — but actively objectionable is his pal Lazaro (Jorge Molina), who takes the opportunity of the zombie apocalypse to commit manslaughter and murder against still-living, not-zombiefied people. I thought part of the appeal of zombie movies is that they create a clear delineation between pseudopeople we’re granted leave to cleave in two and human life we’re come to newly respect. Unless Juan of the Dead is making some sort of commentary on the cheapness of life under communism… but it’s nowhere near obvious how this could be the case. Anyway, completely inexcusable under any sort of governmental or social organization in the 21st century are the recurring motifs of gay-bashing and homophobia. Where the political satire could be in that is woefully unclear.

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Juan of the Dead (2012)
US/Can release: Mar 16 2012
UK/Ire release: May 4 2012

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated MM: maximum muertos, minimal making-fun-of
MPAA: unrated
BBFC: rated 15 (contains strong violence, gory images, strong sex references and language)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • David Roman

    I know I’m late, but hopefully that stick up your a_s has been removed MaryAnn.

  • NG

    don’t have to contain a moral message. The world is full of people who would
    freely kill in apocalyptic situations. Those same people may even have likable
    qualities. The world is also beset with rampant homophobia. Portraying negative
    aspects of society isn’t an endorsement. We can even find humor in the twisted
    corners of humanity. We shouldn’t shy away from the darker side of life, and
    every film doesn’t need a Disney ending.

  • NG

    It seems the site messed up the formatting of my message. My apologies for the inconvenience.

  • Jorge

    Yes, they have an agenda….”Make a profit” from killing zombies….

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