It probably isn’t very controversial to say that Shaun of the Dead is one of the funniest comedies, and one of the scariest horror films, of the last decade. That movie, with assists from 2002’s 28 Days Later* and co-2004’s Dawn of the Dead** remake, reanimated the zombie craze from which we are just now beginning to emerge. Gone are the days when the living dead alone could sell tickets at the multiplex, which is why we are now being served mash-ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. TV is only just now catching up to zombie-mania, and while I’m not the biggest fan of “The Walking Dead,” the fact that it is trying tell a different kind of zombies story is appreciated. I just wish it were better at doing that.
Zombies are basically dead, except on Netflix View Instant and in Cuba, apparently, whose film community seems to have just discovered the seven year old British rom-zom-com and decided, like all good countries belonging to some sort of “America,” to remake it. In all fairness, Juan of the Dead is not really a remake of Shaun of the Dead, but it’s affection for, and influence by, Shaun is reflected in more than just the title. The lead and his best friend are obvious Shaun/Ed analogues and the humor seems to splatter out like so much brain matter. The phrase “you’ve got red on you” would not be out place.
That said, the movie looks to be a whole helluvalot zanier than its English counterpart, with things like missiles affixed to convertibles that wouldn’t be out of place in Bollywood or a Robert Rodriguez joint (or an eventual Edgar Wright movie). The zombies are also called, by the film’s fictionalized Cuban media/leadership, rebellious dissidents financed by the United States government. I find that to be an impressively clever jab at both this America’s foreign policy, and Cuba’s own Communist despotism - which could put the movie above the singular joke of the title, and on solid metaphorical footing with George A. Romero’s best work. It also looks downright hilarious.
See for yourself (NSFW warning for a split-second shot of at least four grown men’s bare asses):
And here’s the poster:
Looks like my kind of fun. Anyone out there know how trade embargoes concerning movies works?
* Yeah, yeah, it’s not really a “zombie” movie. It still counts.
** Yeah, yeah, it’s a “Zack Snyder” movie. It still counts.
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, co-hosts the internet radio show We’re Not Fanboys, and sporadic updates about both can be found on the Twitter. He realizes that “Shaun” is also a play on “Dawn,” and that ripping off/paying homage to a predecessor is part and parcel with horror film making, so he wasn’t calling shenanigans on “Juan” above. Please do not confuse him for a “rebellious dissident.”