Zombies have been everywhere for the last couple of years; it was just a matter of time before they reached Cuba. Havana has been plagued with flesh-eating monsters that are preventing Cuban people from living the peaceful life they always seek but can never attain. Though the Cuban government dismisses the zombie outbreak as a US scheme, one man will rise to save his country from the beasts. This is the premise for Cuba’s first zombie movie ever: Juan of the Dead.
Alejandro Brugues directed the film, and Alexis Diaz de Villegas plays Cuba’s only hope, Juan. The movie is a joint collaboration between Cuba and Spain to be released later this year. Film Shaft and other movie sites hope that Juan of the Dead will encourage the resurgence of Cuban cinema.
The movie is more than a simple campy horror romp. According to Brugues in an interview with the BBC, the film is about more than the undead:
“It’s a zombie film, but it’s about Cubans and how we react in the face of a crisis because we’ve had a lot of them here over the last 50 years. It is a social comedy; it has a bit of everything. It has horror, it has action, and it pretty much laughs in the face of problems.”
The teaser above hints at the social undertones in the film. To see more of the comedic side of the film, take a look at the second teaser, in which Juan advertises his zombie-killing services. (Can’t blame the guy for charging – the economy is never very good in a zombie-infested country!)
Zombies are very popular nowadays. I think the zombie resurgence started in 2002 with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, a film that was both a critical and commercial success. There not many films like that, but zombies are cool like that. If you don’t believe me, take a look at films like Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead and zombie-comedies like Shaun of the Dead (2004) and 2010’s Zombieland. All of these movies did well. Right now, zombies are making a stand in television as well with the hugely successful first zombie show ever: The Walking Dead.
What is it about zombies that people love so much? According to a former colleague of mine over at Film News Briefs, zombies are so well-loved by audiences because they are the only supernatural creatures left that can inspire fear. Other popular horror creatures, she argues, like werewolves and vampires, have been reduced to teenage romantic fantasies. I have to agree with this notion. Moreover, zombies are used to tell a deeper story than just monsters eating people. Burgues and Boyle use zombied in Juan of the Dead (much like 28 Days Later) to tell a political allegory.
I think that because of their unwavering status as terrifying creatures and their flexibility to make a powerful metaphors, zombies are here to stay.Tags: 28 Days Later, Alejandro Brugues, Alexis Diaz de Villegas, Batista, BBC, Cuban Cinema, Danny Boyle, Dawn of the Dead, FIlm News Briefs, Juan of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, The Walking Dead, Zack Snyder, Zombieland, Zombies