Juan de los Muertos or Juan of the Dead. Even the title elicits a smile. The concept does even more - a full-fledged zombie (communists?) flick produced on the island of Cuba, by Cubans, with Cuban zombies in full make up and a protagonist that does the unthinkable -- decides to capitalize off the apocalypse.
Alejandro Brugués, the director, garnered some buzz before with Efectos Personales (Personal Belongings) in 2006, Cuba's submission to the Academy Awards. He's also being hyped as the filmmaker who will resuscitate the desperate island's film industry. No pressure. This isn't the first time we write about Juan, but it is the first time we were able to get insight into zombie culture and the real zombie attack that occurred during filming. We shot a few questions at Brugués and he was kind enough to answer. Follow the jump for our Q&A with Brugués.
New Times: On the website for the film, you mention something about zombie movies being full of subtext. I agree. Is there subtext in Juan of the Dead, and if so what?
Alejandro Brugués: Actually the whole horror film is full of subtext, and that's one of the things that makes it so fun. And of course, there is a lot of subtext in the film... But that's very open to interpretation. You should wait to see the film and draw your own conclusions instead of having me spoil the fun of discovering it!
Are you pro-revolution or anti-communist?
There's been a gap between Cuba and Miami for a very long time. I believe we as artist should try to close this gap and bring us together. I think this is the kind of question that widens this gap. I am a Cuban. Period.
I was somewhat surprised that anyone in Cuba had the money, the equipment, or the know-how to make a full-fledged, feature-length horror flick. How'd that happen?
We've always had talented filmmakers. And we've made horror comedies before, although, true, in animation (Vampires in Havana). I just happened to be the guy that grew up loving zombie films. The only surprising thing should be why it didn't happen before!
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Any real zombie attacks during production?
Tons of stories, of course. One laughs now but at the time, with the schedule we had, it wasn't so funny! But my favorite, and the one that was kind of funny when it happened, was the first day we brought our zombies into action. They were supposed to attack and eat an old man. And one of the zombies actually bit the old man! Nothing serious of course, but kind of funny to know we had real zombies in the film!
When you were casting the movie, was it easy to get people on board to play zombies?
It was very easy. Everyone wanted to be a zombie (before discovering they had to be in make up for up to six hours!). We had a zombie school, were we they learned how to walk as a zombie and all that. We had hundreds of zombies, and lots of people that wanted to play zombies and we didn't have space for more of them, including me. I wanted to be a zombie but couldn't to spend so many hours in make up and direct at the same time.