The bulk of this review is taken from one previously written as part of the Dead By Dawn Horror Film Festival
If I’m honest this was one of the films I was most looking forward to seeing at the festival this year after seeing posters and flyers promoting it at the marketplace at the Cannes Film Festival during the last couple of years.
Sold as Cuba’s answer to Shaun of the Dead, Alejandro Bruguės’ film is worth checking out if only because it’s one of the few genre films ever to have been made in communist Cuba. Having said that I was somewhat disappointed that the filmmakers didn’t make better use of some of the wonderful locations in and around Cuba, although that could have been due to government interference or lack of budget…who knows? Having had the privilege to have been able to visit Cuba a few year’s ago myself, I found Cuba to be an amazing country with so many interesting things to see, but this film sadly doesn’t really show that, more’s the pity.
This film focuses on Juan, a petty thief, who is trying to reconnect with his daughter after many years of being an absentee father, but who is constantly thwarted in his goals by circumstances and, well, zombies! Much of the film’s running time follows him and his friends trying to avoid the zombie hordes in the back streets and tenement blocks of Havana. Some of the humour falls a bit flat, but there are some genuinely fun moments and it’s actually well shot and the acting isn’t too bad either. Juan of the Dead is certainly an encouraging beginning for genre films out of Cuba.
Juan of the Dead is released on June 4th on DVD by Metrodome Distribution. There weren’t any extra features on my screener and I haven’t seen any advertised so it’s a bare-bones release, but the picture and sound quality is decent enough.
Review by Justin Richards