Otto; or, Up with Dead People

"Bad"

Otto; or, Up with Dead People Review


It's almost impossible not to put "Bruce LaBruce" and "transgressive" in the same sentence. See what I mean? The cracked Canadian has a small but memorable body of work, a series of films that reveal his fascination with gay hustlers, amputees, skinheads, and gay skinhead amputee hustlers. Also gay terrorists. In Otto; or Up with Dead People he adds a new ingredient to his salacious stew: zombies. The result is total confusion... with a German accent.

Set in a scenic and admittedly well-shot Berlin, a promising locale for gay skinhead hustlers both dead and undead, Otto tracks the mostly aimless meanderings of Otto (Jey Crisfar), a young zombie in a hoodie who emerges from his grave and tries to recapture lost memories of his human existence. After what feels like way too much time passing, he encounters underground filmmaker Medea Yarn (Katharina Klewinghaus), who alongside her girlfriend, Hella Bent (Suzanne Sachsse), who appears in black and white like a silent film star, and her brother Adolf (Guido Sommer), is filming a movie about the zombie lifestyle (called "Up with Dead People"). Otto would be a perfect addition to her cast.

That's about as much as I understood, other than the part where Otto crosses paths with his human ex-boyfriend Rudolf (Gio Black Peter), who tells Otto he likes his new goth look but he should probably bathe because he smells like a dead mouse.

The rest of the film consists mainly of other zombies, or zombie-like humans, running into each other, making out, eating each other's faces off, or having bloody zombie sex, which usually involves removing and devouring (or making love to) the entrails of one's partner. Intercut with all this are scenes of butchers chopping up raw meat. LaBruce clearly has a fascination with flesh. In fact, Flesh is the name of a bar that Otto visits.

Throughout my viewing of Otto I harbored a suspicion that it wouldn't end until there was some kind of zombie orgy to wrap things up. Sure enough, with about 15 minutes to go, LaBruce treats his viewers to a hardcore, gay zombie fleshfest in which the eight participants put pretty much anything and everything into their mouths, including the raw meat which has been strewn around the set. I think I died a little while I watched it.

LaBruce has styled Otto pretentiously, as if he expects it to be screened and discussed at the Museum of Modern Art. (The German accents throughout only heighten the effect.) I don't think that's going to happen. Sadly, this is one of those moments where I have to scan my reviewer's list of dismissive nouns to come up with the perfect word to describe this mess. Ah, yes, here it is: claptrap.

Lunch is served.



Otto; or, Up with Dead People

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 18th September 2008

Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 40%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 5.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Bruce LaBruce

Producer: Jürgen Brüning, Bruce LaBruce, Jörn Hartmann, , Michael Huber

Starring: Jey Crisfar as Otto, Marcel Schlutt as Fritz Fritze, Nicholas Fox Ricciardi as Young Man in Hooded Sweatshirt/Passerby, Susanne Sachße as Hella Bent, Katharina Klewinghaus as Medea Yarn, Guido Sommer as Adolf, Gio Black Peter as Rudolf

Also starring:

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