Between Jokes and The Dead

The nothingness, the apathy, the wall at the corner to sit on, forever wasting time. The hero of the film “Juan of the Dead” was already acting like a corpse before the zombies invaded Havana, a city in fact shrouded and dead. This fictional antihero calls on his creativity and ingenuity – in the midst of chaos – to establish a blood-chilling business. “We kill your loved ones,” reads the slogan of the company he creates with other pals as dysfunctional as he is; its market niche is to hunt the living dead. An enjoyable script mixes humor and fantasy, special effects and unretouched reality. On this side of the screen viewers are caught between terror and snickers, watching the image of the Capitol destroyed by a helicopter and the emblematic Fosca building reduced to rubble. They laugh and cringe at the same time.

Directed by Alejandro Brugués, “Juan of the Dead” is causing a furor in the Cuban capital. It has provoked extremely long lines outside the movie theaters, some of which end up with police beatings and pepper spray falling on dozen of eyes. But the curiosity in this case has been greater than the caution. More than gazing on a story of beings taken from our worst nightmares, the public wants to decipher the second reading contained in the film. Especially in the scenes where hundreds of desperate people leap over the wall of the Malecon — into the sea — to escape a county where putrefaction is gaining ground.

Something of the automatism of the shock troops and of the mob prepared to attack those who are different, is also exhibited by these frightful creatures that the hero confronts and whom he can only overcome by “destroying their brains.” And Juan is a character of great irreverence, someone who, according to his own words, has survived “Mariel, the war in Angola, the Special Period and what came later.” Such that, between laughter and shrieks, the metaphor crumbles, it is more direct. And it ends up tossing into the laps of the audience, perched on their seats, the cynical but clear question: Won’t you also be like corpses, a faraway look in your restless eyes, like zombies with no future plans, walking along La Rampa*.

*Translator’s note: La Rampa is a long street running down to the Malecon, and the sea, the location of much of what passes for what is left of Havana’s night life.

15 thoughts on “Between Jokes and The Dead

  1. Post 12 is priceless in light of the fact that Damir threatened to “take down Yoani’s entire site” because of a difference of opinion about whether his insane rants should be posted. Impotent chump.

  2. Yes, Damir, I’m the only one who has ever accused you of being a hater, haha.

    There is a world of difference between “difference of opinion” and the hate and nonsense that you constantly spew on this site.

  3. A monkey who hates communism and Castros accusing ME of being the “hater”!!!

    What a joke.

    Get your retarded and patronising nonsense elsewhere until you learn the meaning of “difference of opinion”.

  4. Damir, so full of hate, and you don’t even bother to ponder what Yoani is really saying, before posting your nonsensical rants. Clown.


    ASSOCIATED PRESS: In Cuba property thaw, new hope for a decayed icon – By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ,

    But along the Malecon, many buildings are dank, labyrinthine tenements bursting beyond capacity, plagued by mold and reeking of backed-up sewer drains. Paint peels away from plaster, and the saline air rusts iron bars to dust. Some buildings have collapsed entirely, their propped-up facades testimony to a more dignified architectural era.
    Yet Cubans will tell you that change comes slowly on the island. Strict controls on foreign investment and property ownership mean there’s precious little money to bankroll a capitalist revival. Even some Malecon denizens who embrace the reforms see a long haul ahead.
    “It’s not that I see the future as black, more like I’m seeing a little spark from someone 3 kilometers away who lit a match,” said Jose Luis Leal Ordonez, the proprietor of a modest snack shop.”But it’s a match, not a lantern.”
    The year was 1900 and the country was under U.S. control following the Spanish-American War. Governor General Leonard Wood, who commanded the Rough Riders during the war with friend Teddy Roosevelt as his No. 2, launched a public works program to clean up unsanitary conditions and stimulate the economy. A key element was the Malecon.
    At that time Havana ended about a block from the sea, separated from the waves by craggy rock. Raw sewage seeped into the bay nearby, so fishermen and bathers avoided this part of the waterfront. Only later would high-rise hotels and casinos spring up to make the Malecon a world-famous tourism draw.
    For those early American occupiers, “The idea was to create a maritime drive so the city, which until now had its back to the sea, would begin to face the ocean,” said architect Abel Esquivel. Since 1994, he has been working with the City Historian’s office to restore the crumbling Malecon.
    As the boulevard and promenade took shape, buildings sprang up on this block. One of the first was a three-story boarding house for singles and childless couples who occupied 12 apartments.
    Today those have been subdivided horizontally and vertically, again and again, to take advantage of every last inch of space, and some 70 families live crammed into every nook and cranny.


  6. What a powerful essay. I have not seen the movie, but it sounds like art immitating life and at the same time art mocking life. Weren’t the first zombie movies made in the 1950’s here in the US? I am by no means an expert on this. Cuba used to be a place to go; now it is a place to leave — if you can.

  7. The Cuban people are protesting against the repressive Castro Regime. They no longer trust the ruling party and realize all the “mentiras” they have been told. The Castro thugs have milked the economy, the people ,and natural resources for much too long. Se esta acabando el relajo, as Raul once said. Cubans soon will also be restored their basic HUMAN RIGHTS, while tonight thousands sleep in nasty Cuban jails, because they criticized the current ruling government.

    Thank you Yoani for this blog that will be recorded in Cubas written history.

  8. damir watch today show viva viva communist is dead hardline communist is the past band aid will never help communist gun shot wound chinese communist will fail like hardline won there days are number never treat a adult like a child mommy and daddy leader fail

  9. Thank you team “yoani” for graphically confirming my words just a few days ago under “Reduced Vocabulary” post.

    As I stated there, the team “yoani” have their vocabulary reduced completely into the negative and fatalistic few words, repeated ad nauseam in a faint hope the apathy and depression would get those who would be bored enough to read them.

    While the life, in particular on an artistic level – film festivals, children festivals etc. – has been flourishing and bursting onto the streets of supposedly dead Havana, the team “yoani” have been hiding with their heads stuck voluntarily in the sands of miami beaches.

    Pretending that everything is black, depressing and that the end of the world is nigh must be very easy for the team “yoani”.

    After all, their “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” is dead and disintegrated. The whole society based on it is in tatters and falling unstoppably into the abyss of its’ own delusional ideology making.

    But, that’s no excuse for these relentless attacks on little Cuba and blaming them for everything this “beautiful” and “wonderful” “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” has caused to itself.

    As IMF, through the mouth of its’ boss Christine Lagarde, has said only today, the “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” is done and gone. It has created yet ANOTHER catastrophic failure and a recession that will “take decades for it to recover” – meaning NEVER. And of course, the capitalist criminals screw the world through “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” and now we ALL are “together in it”?????

    I did nothing to provoke this recession that is now going to engulf the world like a catastrophic fire in the forest.

    Neither did Cuba.

    But for the losers and delusional brainwashed servants of their white “gods” there’s only one explanation…

    Cuba is guilty for everything under the sun…

    Well, as crazy as those delusional creatures are, Cuba IS NOT guilty for everything.

    Soon it will be the rich tropical and socialist paradise for disillusioned and poor “free” world. The centre of plentiful organic food, clean air and happy people, minus the team “yoani” and their depressive image of the world which is induced by that “some kind of pragmatic capitalism”, not by the inept and just as crazy brothers Castro.

  10. cuba was on today show and monday too they talk about new china revolution in cuba i saw that cuban movie on the latin review

  11. Why are Cubans for travel shut dowu to Cuba?
    Because the communist government in Cuba hasn’t eliminated the regulations on travel to Cuba and from Cuba to the Cuban people and Cubans outside the island’s communist prison.
    That’s why we all agree to the travel ban to Cuba while the Communists do not remove their clamps, chains and travel regulations to Cubans.

  12. REUTERS: Cuba’s cigars: a black market tale of survival

    Packing long cigars into a white box picturing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a Cuban man delicately places a thin wax-paper stamp of quality inside.

    He then finishes the job with an official guarantee.

    Now, no one will be the wiser that these stogies are black market cigars.

    “We have to do this just so we can live,” the man, who asked to remain anonymous, said in the Cuban capital. “To make a living here, you have to be constantly doing business.”

    In a country where the average salary is about $20 a month, many Cubans say the black market helps buyers stretch their money and sellers supplement their income.

    Some experts estimate that as much as 20 percent of goods are stolen as they are distributed to state outlets around the country – a drain President Raul Castro says must be stopped.

    A box of Cuba’s prized cigars could cost hundreds of dollars in stores, but black market dealers sell it for a fraction of that price, usually to tourists.

    In Havana, clandestine street dealers lead buyers up narrow staircases to small apartments where different brands of cigars in tightly packed boxes are spread out on beds.

    Some workers smuggle surplus cigars out of distributors and sell them. Others make them in their homes using leftover scraps, dealers said.

    Police pressure is constant, they said.

    Although official outcries against corruption are not new for communist-run Cuba, Castro is taking tough action against graft and is believed to have increased vigilance on the streets and around markets, looking for people selling items illegally.

    Cuba’s premium cigars – grown and cured in western Pinar del Rio province – dominate the world market and are one of the cash-strapped Caribbean island’s top exports.

    The nimble fingers of Cuba’s licit cigar makers rolled out 81.5 million smokes last year, up 8 percent from 2009, according to the statistics agency.

    The main buyers are France and Spain, but the jealously guarded global market share excludes the United States, where Cuba’s cigars are banned under decades-old trade sanctions.

    On the black market, everything to make cigars look authentic is sold. A bundle of quality stamps goes for about $30, boxes around $5-$6, a batch of rings for as much as $30. Cigars themselves may be as low as $8 for 25, a dealer said.

    All the goods are pilfered from manufacturers, sellers said, giving them the right look, touch and smell.

    Sellers said they are just trying to make a living.

    “In Cuba, everything is dangerous. You depend on your wits and don’t look for problems with anyone,” one seller said. “If you depend on just your salary, you can’t live.”

    (Reporting by Jack Kimball; Editing by Xavier Briand)


  13. ***
    Zombies in Cuba?? The real evil is the Castro Brothers and their Ilk. And the mummy is there also.
    “Zombies” en Cuba?? El maldad verdadero es los Hermanos Castros y sus cunandos. Y La Momia esta alla tambien.
    John Bibb

  14. YOUTUBE: TRAILER- “JUAN OF THE DEAD”, “JUAN DE LOS MUERTOS”, LA PRIMERA PELICULA CUBANA DE HORROR (Juan of the dead- the first Cuban Horror Film (not counting the Castrofascist RevoltingRevolution TELENOVELA, but that is Television which is another medium)-Spanish with English Sub-titles!

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