In early 2012, Juan of the Dead’s UK premier was held at my local art house cinema during their annual Spanish Language Film Festival. I was really annoyed that I couldn’t make the screening as I’d heard a lot of good things about the comedy-horror, the fist Cuban film I’d ever come across. Over a year later, LoveFilm sent me the DVD and I excitedly slid it into my player. Ninety-six minutes later I was a disappointed man. While Juan of the Dead has a lot of things going for it, I didn’t enjoy the broad comedy or unremarkable effects. It does however contain important political subtext which was much more to my liking.
Juan (Alexis Díaz de Villegas) is a middle aged Cuban, used to doing nothing on a regular basis. His wife left him some time ago, taking his daughter with her to Spain. Juan’s friend Lazaro (Jorge Molina) is in a similar situation but at least has his son Vladi (Andros Perugorría) for company. A strange illness begins to infect the people of the Caribbean island and those infected begin marauding through the streets, eating their friends and neighbours who in turn become infected themselves. Dismissed as dissidents, backed by America by the Cuban Government, it soon becomes apparent to Juan that no matter who or what they are, he and his friends have a battle for survival on their hands.