Tag Archives: z-film

Juan of the Dead (2011)

Juan of the Dead, Juan de los MuertosJuan Of The Dead (AKA Juan de los Muertos) is fun Spanish-Cuban zombie comedy.  If you’re like me, you just gotta appreciate a Z-film that shows its first zombie kill in under three minutes into the story development. Oh yes, it may be a new record!

Without any explanation zombies appear in Cuba and start eating people.  Middle-aged slacker Jaun, along with his fellow small-time crooks and deadbeats, take to the streets of Havana to face an army of the undead.  Emergency news reports are broadcast amid the chaos…  The surge of living-dead have been identified as ‘dissidents’ revolting against the Cuban government.  The regime accuses the USA for the attack.  Everything is under control even when nothing is being done.  Seeing opportunity, Jaun gathers and trains his friends to be zombie killers and starts a business called “Juan Of The Dead — We’ll kill your loved ones”.

For those familiar with the Cuban regime and its people, the movie is a hard critic to both — which is why it was never released in Cuba and apparently was only shown on-screen at film festivals.  Juan Of The Dead attempts to mock every cinematic clichés (daughter hating father, friend about to die, farewell , even Matrix-style fights).  The nuances of Cuban humor can get lost-in-translation to non-Spanish speakers — for example — in one of the most celebrated jokes, Juan is asked to kill a cow but he refuses because it is too dangerous; In Cuba killing a cow is worse crime than killing people.

Zombie film fans will will be pleasantly surprised with this film especially with seeing fun nods to Shaun Of The Dead.  There was one thing I saw in particular that I have seen in another zombie film*.  The film is in Spanish and subtitled — sorry, no over-dubs.  This film is Not Rated, and aside from the zombie gore and violence there is some nudity (including z-film boobs) and adult humor/topics.  Oh — and how do I rate Juan Of The Dead ? … Light Green to full Green.
(*Select this line to read the spoiler –> Underwater zombies walking on the ocean floor that seem to be able to swim up if it means getting a bite … though that bite could come from a shark!  Oh yeah, this was also done in Pirates Of The Caribbean<– all the way to here)

Juan of the Dead – IMDbWikipedia, and Rotten Tomatoes

World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries (2011)

World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011
Remember how the cover for the first film has NOTHING to do with the film? Well, consistency is supposed to be good…

Have you ever had the experience where someone you know excitedly says “Hey, ya gotta see this film!“?  Then once you watch it you’re left thinking “What the heck was that about?”, or worse “There is something SERIOUSLY WRONG with my friend!”  Welcome to to World of the Dead: The Zombie Diaries 2.

Immediately you can tell that this project has a higher budget and is visually more satisfying than the 2006 predecessor.  Then you get into the story and you start to see the problems…

The first thing you notice — as with the original film — is that the DVD cover is once again horribly misleading.  The cover art looks better than the film, and it represents something other than the content of the film.

Field full of zombies
I’m warning you — act like threatening zombies or we’ll shoot you!!!

The zombies feel very non-threatening — even less than in the original film.  The make-up is insufficient, the scares nearly non-existent, and the zombies are often so stiff they would be played better by untrained department store mannequins.  Add to that, when it comes to shooting the zombies I get the impression that the British film makers don’t have a clue as to what firearms sound like anymore (especially in the scene pictured).  The firearm sound effects left me non-pulsed — perhaps they were just the on-location recording of the blanks the actors were firing.

The biggest downfall of the movie…

World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011
Yep, they should have stuck with this poster as the DVD cover

… aside from the emaciated plot and the you-are-there hand-held cinematography — are some of the specific content choices that film makers Michael Bartlett and Kevin Gates included.  Various gangs of survivors prove to be even more vile than the zombies.  This is well summed up in a review by FlickeringMyth.com when they wrote…

“There are a couple of, frankly, unneeded rape scenes (one on a female zombie) that just felt like Bartlett and Gates wanted to do some kind of rape revenge film, but gave up and worked zombies into it”.

Frankly it left this bagpiper & humble amateur zombie-film reviewer astounded.  I cannot recall feeling this disturbed by any zombie film I have previously seen.  This content included a challenged young man bullied into delivering a beating upon one of the primary male characters, and then pushed into committing a graphic rape/murder on one of the female primaries.  I have to wonder where the writer and his co-director think that this was appropriate, or fit within the film!  I also have to wonder about the actors (or even the crew) assuming they saw the script before they agreed to do the film — why would they participate in bringing this film to fruition?

Is there any redemption for this film?

World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011, gas mask
Me around people who smoke

There are elements to this film that really work — the albeit over-used zombie-trope military element, the military and civilian survivors trying to escape from England, and the guys who ambiguously appear wearing protective suits and gas masks.  However it seems as though Bartlett and Gates thought that their ideas were so great — so sound — that they didn’t think to check their script or finished film with a third party.  And if they did, they didn’t listen to them say “There’s some good stuff here, but over all THIS IS A BAD IDEA.”  Or maybe they just half-assed it and figured this would fill a feature.  In the end, it is as The Daily Mail described the film, it’s an “88 minute waste of electricity.”, and I rate it Red Blood.

Seriously, I’m starting to think I ought to make a list titled “Zombie Films To Avoid Watching“.  Do you think I would have this one on it?  YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT!

A List Of Words Irrelevant To This Zombie Film
World of the Dead, The Zombie Diaries 2, 2011
At least you see one of these folks in the film — but destroyed city, a massive horde of zombies? Nope nope-nope!
  • Smash hit
  • Phenomenon

Links

pew pew pew
pew pew pew!

Day Of The Dead (1985)

Yellow Puss

Whaddayaknow — George A. Romero wrote & directed another zombie film!

What’s the significance of this film?  I’m still trying to figure that out myself.  Heck, 30 minutes into the film I asked “Where’s this film going?”  After an hour & thirty-seven minutes I asked myself that again and then the credits started rolling.

  • Music that was used in Shaun Of The Dead, which SOTD did intentionally drawing from a number of Z-films to pay homage to their predecessors
  • Yelling “Hello?” that sounds like the same delivery I first heard in 28 Days Later and suspect that Day Of The Dead was the origin
  • Experiments with cognizant zombies – most notable in the film is “Bub”, a male zombie who at a base level shows memory of things from when he was a human (ex applying a disposable razor to his face for shaving)
  • In some cases over-the-top campy acting, which can be characteristic of B/Z-films, but in this case struck me as poor acting &/or directing choices. I think the film could have had better execution & resonance in the same scenes (ALTHOUGH I NOTE – it was only the military AKA government characters that acted in this ‘ridiculous’ way, which may start to make some sense when you understand that this is supposed to be representative of a conflict between the public & the government.)
  • Questionably gay straight guy or straight gay guy
  • Oldest private in history, Private Steele – so did he join late, has this zombie conflict been going on that long and there was no one around to promote him, or is that he joined young and remained a career private?
  • Better make up & effects than Dawn Of The Dead
  • Instead of being held up in a shopping mall (Dawn Of The Dead) with a helicopter they’re holed up in an underground facility of some sort with a helicopter
Bub just got the latest BagpiperDon album.

I happened to have a collector’s edition of this film when I viewed it, so I also had all the extras — including the ‘interviews with the cast members X#-of-years later’ AKA ‘today’.  One of the things said (by Romero) was that the two parties of people in this film — scientists & military — stuck in the underground bunker was meant to represent the public and the government of the time (mid-1980s) and how there was a distrust between the two.

Some zombies are more handy than others.

Perhaps this film had that significance then (in 1985) but viewing it in 2017 it has no staying power.

This film could probably be good with a re-write & re-make, not unlike how Total Recall was grossly improved.

Day Of The Dead at IMDB

For those about to rock, we salute you!

Cemetery Man (1994)

This is perhaps one of the worst reviews I could give.  I put this DVD in my player, watched the trailer, and popped the disc back out.  The preview looked so-so, but being a zombie film my think is to watch it still — because if I only watched the well-made Z-films then I’d only have about a dozen reviews and all of them would be a part of my nearly-top-10-list.  The issue that I had with Cemetery Man was that it was subtitled and did not have a language over-dub option, and at the time I didn’t have time to watch a film that required me to read (I usually work on something while I watch a film at home, usually my laptop).  I’ve been told that an over-dub version followed the 1994 release a few years later — so I may try to get my hands on that and give this film another go.  Still, IMDB indicates that this film had a $4-million budget (which is not just low but it is LOW) and grossed $253,969 at the US box-office ….. so how much of a film am I missing here really?!?

Cemetery Man AKA Dellamorte Dellamore (original title) at IMDB

Cemetery Man at Wikipedia