Juan of the Dead is the first Cuban Zombie movie ever made. Juan and his friend, Lazaro, wake up one morning to a Zombie invasion in Havana. The Cuban government is reporting that the Zombie outbreak is “Americans trying to undermine the Cuban government”. Obviously poking fun at the Cuban’s political propaganda.
Juan and his friends decide that they can make a successful small business by killing and disposing of Zombies. For a small fee Juan can dispose of your unwanted loved ones for you. So an unlikely bunch of heroes come together and arm themselves to rid the city of Zombies for a profit.
What makes this movie special is that you get a real up close and personal view of what it is like to live in Havana under the Communist Regime. The scenery is beautiful and sad at the same time. Havana is depicted as a place where Elevators don’t work, Medicine is outdated, and things just generally look run down. Zombies are merely thrown into the mix. What comes across loud and clear is how proud the Cuban people are. Even when facing the end of life as he knows it, Juan does not want to leave his homeland.
I saw this movie at the World Premeire in Toronto at TIFF, so I had the pleasure of hearing the Q&A after the film. The Director, Alejandro Brugues, and his crew were excited to be in Canada for the first time and mentioned that they were going to a Jay’s game before flying back to Cuba… He seemed surprised that the film comes across with a political message, because it was not his intention to do so