Zombies have overtaken Havana. Cuban leaders insist that they are dis-
sidents funded by the U.S. government, but the lone handful of survivors
realize that the national threat is supernatural. The only one who can
save Havana is Juan. “I survived Mariel, Angola, the Special Period and
that thing that came after, and I will survive this,” Juan says. How will he
make it through? By starting a business, of course. “Juan of the Dead—
we kill your loved ones,” he cheerily tells his customers when they call.
As Juan exclaims to his trusty sidekick, “What do Cubans do when there
is a crisis? We charge people!”
The 2012 science ction comedy Juan of the Dead, directed by Cuban
lmmaker Alejandro Burgués, spares no state institution or Cuban ste-
reotype from aff ectionate social criticism. Zombies provide an especially
poignant jab at those hypnotized by revolutionary ideologies because
they are bereft of self- awareness, but still react to stimuli and kill. The
band of misfi t survivors tasked with saving the island includes Juan, a
self- proclaimed slacker and conman; his dim- witted best friend Lazaro;
Lazaro’s grown son “California,” who hustles tourists; Juan’s daughter,
who has left for Spain as a child and despises her deadbeat dad as well as
Cuba; “China,” a mulata travesti, and her mute, muscular, towering black
strongman, who sports a facial tattoo and faints at the sight of blood.
The only Cubans immune to zombifi cation are those who have been
maligned and forsaken by government leaders for not embracing revolu-
tionary rhetoric. In a twisted way, however, the lm promotes a certain
Love in Crisis
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