Otto; Or, Up With Dead People


Headier in synopsis than in its vain execution, the latest transgressive art-porno from Canadian queercore auteur Bruce LaBruce (The Raspberry Reich) is a gay zombie movie, an explicit blend of blood and blowjobs that might’ve seemed more acidic two decades ago at the start of his no-budget career—or maybe Nick Zedd’s. Young, hoodie-clad Otto (Jey Crisfar) rises from the grave and skulks through a near-future Berlin to a killer soundtrack, unable to remember his life before he turned undead. Was this consumer of (man-)flesh formerly a vegetarian or even gay, as he is now? Discovered by manifesto-preaching lesbian filmmaker Medea Yarn (Katharina Klewinghaus) and her underground consortium of showbiz queers (including a silent-screen siren, always seen in dusty, scratched black-and-white), Otto becomes the star of her political zombie skin-flick and the subject of a doc. Yet it’s unclear if LaBruce is mocking Medea’s Euro-trash pomposity, or actually believes in her banal talking points on consumerist overabundance. (If the latter, then it’s safe to say that Wall-E‘s take on the same subject is more perversely confrontational.) LaBruce mixes metaphors as sloppily as the ingredients in a KFC Famous Bowl, his living dead alternately standing in for repression, persecution, sexual confusion, societal decay, or even a so-called “gay plague” of mindless fuck-bots. Campy but not comical, reactionary but not very clever, LaBruce’s film is best saved for those tickled by the sight of homo-zombie orgies or the hardcore penetration of an open wound.