Coming Attractions: Juan De Los Muertos Revives Cuban Cinema

By Arturo R. García

Now this is the kind of horror movie I can get behind. What’s a guy to do when he finds himself up against a zombie apocalypse?

Why, make a little freelance money, of course.

That’s at least one of the plots driving the upcoming Cuban release Juan De Los Muertos (a.k.a. Juan Of The Dead,) which borrows the title, but seemingly not much else from Shaun Of The Dead. Director Alejandro Brugues told the BBC the film is about how Cubans react to a crisis (“we’ve had a lot of them over the last 50 years”), and the title character’s pragmatism comes across early on in the film’s trailer.

“I am a survivor,” Juan tells us. “I survived Mariel. I survived the Special Period and that thing that came later, and nothing’s gonna change that.”

Needless to say, he’s already more world-weary than Simon Pegg’s naive Shaun. But Juan’s philosophy also gets challenged in a big way when the undead spread across the land. Suddenly, his country is being torn apart, the government is blaming the U.S., and the market is growing for the disposal of “dissidents.”

Viva Capitalism? Not quite, according to executive producer Inti Herrera. She told The Guardian, “Zombie films are typically in an Anglo-Saxon context and we wanted this one to be contextualised here in Havana.”

Juan is also making waves because it’s the first full-length horror movie to emerge in 50 years from the otherwise ineffectual Cuban film scene, where scripts must meet government approval. According to CNN, Brugues’ film is backed by not only Cuba’s Institute of Cinematographic Industry and Arts, but a Spanish production company. Even with a relatively big $2.3 million budget, though, there’s a DIY verve all over the trailer. Well, that and blood splatters. So if your workplace doesn’t mind some gore, check the trailer out below:

  • The Haitian Mulatto

    I didn’t see to many black Cubans in the population in the trailer.  In Cuba, it is hard not to come across black Cubans.

  • AngryBroomstick

    awesome! I love Cuba and I love horror movies, so this is a wet dream come true.

    • Roundelay78

      It’s a cool crazy dream come true! I told my communist community activist friend about it, and of course he thought the idea was funny—I’d love to see it whenever/wherever it opens up in the D!