31.7.13

Juan of the Dead.

I will be the first to admit that parodying the name “Dawn of the Dead” to create “Shaun of the Dead” was fairly clever.  But adding a Spanish flare to it with “Juan of the Dead” seems, well, less clever, less original.  But let’s not let that take away from the potential here.  They are clearly letting the audience know that it should be, once again, a ZOMEDY, but that there is an equal nod to both Romero-esque films as much as there is to the newer classics like “Shaun”.  Now that I say it like that, the title fucking rules.  Starkwell and Lovelock are a typically hard sell on Zombie Comedies.  They have to really work and have good character and story.  Let’s see how they fare here.

[...]

[Two Cuban slackers out for a leisurely fish, they talk about fleeing Cuba, and end up with a convict zombie on their line, they harpoon his head.]

Starkwell: Solid intro, good music, funny dialogue… off to a solid start.

Lovelock: …

[Lovelock was silently weeping at the POTENTIAL in front of him.]

[...]

Juan and his sidekick seem to be real pieces of work.  The comedy is right on target.  Juan tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter but is shot down.  Similarities to this film’s British counterpart are subtle, but kind of present.  Nonetheless, this film is one hundred percent its own thing, and totally insane, so far.  The zombie outbreak has already begun.

[...]

[Juan goes to see his neighbor the old lay, and her husband is a zombie, he attacks Juan… so Lazaro and his son come to help and they accidentally harpoon both the old woman and the old man zombie.  Then they keep stabbing and maiming the old man in an attempt to get him to stop attacking.  Eventually… HEAD SHOT.]

Starkwell: Even these screwballs have learned faster than most do in these situations.

Lovelock: I love how indifferent they are about everything.  That’s really something to aspire to.

[...]

The action and mayhem gets crazier and funnier.  Sure, this is not re-inventing anything, but it’s doing the same old same old in a very refreshing and cool way, enough to make you forget that you’ve basically seen this film a thousand times.  Granted, you’ve never seen it in communist Cuba.

[...]

Lovelock: Do the zombies run, or do the zombies not run?

Starkwell: All this good stuff and you’re concerning yourself with that?

Lovelock: That is a top priority.  I’m looking for consistency here.

Starkwell: How about good writing, acting, directing, pacing… ?

Lovelock: DO THEY RUN OR DON’T THEY!??!?!?!

[...]

One thing is certain… the zombies look great, in that old-school sort of way.  No big computer crap going on here.

[...]

[Girl gets pulled into the water by a zombie, is dragged around like the girl at the beginning of “Jaws”.]

Starkwell: Ok… DUDE.  Zombies walking on the ocean floor?  “World War Z” THE BOOK style?  You have to get excited about that.

Lovelock: …

[Clearly excited, Lovelock peed a little and had to run to the washroom.]

[...]

Juan, Lazaro and his son, California, start a ‘Ghostbusters’ style business, to kill zombies.  Lovelock did a jumpkick and farted simultaneously.  Starkwell liked the whole ‘capitalist adventure inside of a falling communist empire’ thing.  Lovelock was all “shut up nerd” and did another jump kick as Juan and friends recruit some locals to join their business.  Then they make a joke about how no one can explain why some are slow and some are fast.  Lovelock was so excited he started giggling uncontrollably.

[...]

[Zombie kill / training montage with FUNKY music.]

Lovelock: THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!

[...]

Sometime after this, they stopped talking, mostly, and just sat there enjoying every second of the film.

[...]

Starkwell: We may have spoken too soon about the effects… that last shit was CGI and that looked horrendous.

Lovelock: I can forgive… I’m having too much fun to be angry.

[...]

Definitely light on actual story at this point, but that’s hardly a big deal, since the comedy and dialogue are great and the characters are very well developed.  The movie understands that a good zombie film ain’t about zombies.

[...]

[Juan and his Dead Busters are caught by some kind of military.]

Starkwell: Why did they make them take their clothes off?

Lovelock: I think we’re about to find out.

Starkwell: Still… that’s a lot of almost full frontal male…

Lovelock: So… much… dude ass…

Starkwell: Too much?

Lovelock: It's ALWAYS too much.

[...]

All through out there are nods to some classics.  There was a definite “Evil Dead 2” scene and the Father Jones character at the end was straight from “Dead Alive” even claiming he wants to “kick ass for the lord”.  Subtle enough that only a big fan will catch it, and it doesn’t come off as cheesy. Lovelock cried when Lazaro ALMOST died.  Turns out he wasn’t bitten after all and Lovelock and Starkwell HIGH FIVED! Hard.

[...]

[Juan and Lazaro go to Havana center and decide it is time for a standoff.]

Lovelock: No… why?  Don’t…  Wait is he using nuchuks?

Starkwell: They’ll never make it.

Lovelock: They made it.

[...]

In the end, Juan decides to stay behind, as his daughter and friends set sail for Miami, because, he loves Cuba.  It’s all pretty ball crushing, and Lovelock started crying again.  Lovelock and Starkwell mostly just sang this thing’s praises all throughout.  Honestly, “Juan of the Dead” is a modern classic, the best of its kind in a very very long time, probably since its British father "Shaun".

14 comments:

  1. Glad to hear you (or should I say, Starkwell and Lovelock?) liked it! Admittedly, I was skeptical about yet another zombie comedy, but it won me over. Maybe it was the Cuban setting or the plethora of references, or the fact that it managed to handle the balance between comedy and horror...Great fun!

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    1. References sometimes piss me off, but when they're done right, it's a nice subtle nod to its influences. It's a hard balance to find, but they certainly did here.

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  2. I gave this one a glowing review as well, I love what these guys did, and as you very well stated in your review, the movie is just funny! Love that scene where they kill the old dude and the old lady with the harpoon and they are trying to figure out if they are zombies or not...so hilarious, they start to perform an exorcism on the zombie! Ha ha ha....love the caribbean flavor the film has, and what makes it most original is the fact that it was shot entirely in Cuba, thats awesome. Glad you liked it Kev!

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    1. There's some really great character development too.

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  3. I really wanted to dislike this movie - as with vampires the zombie is becoming less and less impressive on the big screen - but I laughed my ass off. I definitely agree with you - one of the better 'zom-coms'.

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    1. When I originally heard about it, I didn't expect much, but I had read a lot of solid reviews. Now there's one more!

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  4. Really didn't expect much from this film but I was really impressed by how much fun it was.

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    1. Yeah, it's actually surprisingly fun and heartfelt.

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  5. I was surprised at how good this flick actually was. Great review!

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    1. I went in with relatively low expectations, which probably only helped.

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  6. I'm sold! I wanna watch this!

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  7. Glad you've finally watched and loved it. I was blown away at just how good it was and gave it one of my only 10/10s. You weren't tempted with a 5?

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    1. It was tempting, but I've so far reserved that rating for a very select few... but it definitely blew me away.

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