Otto; Or, Up With Dead People

Otto; Or, Up With Dead People


Reviewed by: Tony Sullivan

Otto (Jey Crisfar) is among the freshly dead. Like many just entering the job market he finds it difficult to assimilate. Otto’s life is further complicated by a malaise of the brain that leaves him dazed and confused about his past and passing. Fortune smiles on our hapless animated corpse when he spots an open casting call for zombies, a role to which he seems ideally suited.

Enter Medea Yarn (Katharina Klewinghaus), a movie director with Goth/political pretensions who sees in Otto the ideal hero for her movie, Up With Dead People. Medea has her own relationship problems too, in an odd visual coup, her lover, Hella Bent (Susanne Sachsse) inhabits a strange silent movie world, complete with subtitles.

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George Romero has been using zombie movies to make wry statements about the world’s state of decay for years. Otto director Bruce LaBruce has seized on Romero’s work to make his own socio-political statement concerning consumerism and rights of that neglected minority – the gay dead. A LaBruce zombie is a misunderstood creature that wants to find a little human compassion in the world as well as a nice dish of entrails. His Goth-punk world beautifully summed up by the zombie lair in an abandoned and decaying amusement park and by odd bits of philosophy such as “I love birthdays – each year they bring you closer to death”.

This may well be the best avant-garde gay-zombie porn film I have ever seen – although, I admit, it is also the only avant-garde gay-zombie porn film I have ever seen. Jey Crisfar’s Otto is by far the best thing in the movie, baleful, beneath white contact lenses he manages to elicit a genuine pathos, shambling in search of his lost life and loved ones. The rest is a mixed bag, since the artsy elements fail to work and some of the acting is annoyingly mannered. There’s gore and sex aplenty, but probably not enough to please aficionados of either. Alas, even a key ‘shocking’ moment has already been visited by Messrs Cronenberg and Ballard in Crash.

The film generated a number of walkouts at the press screening; one suspects the director would be disappointed if there weren’t a few offended souls in the room even at the late night film festival picture show.

Reviewed on: 18 May 2008
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Otto; Or, Up With Dead People packshot
A romance with all that love entrails.
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Director: Bruce LaBruce

Writer: Bruce LaBruce

Starring: Jey Crisfar, Katharina Klewinghaus, Susanne Sachsse, Marcel Schlutt

Year: 2007

Runtime: 95 minutes

Country: Germany, Canada


Sundance 2008

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