Otto; or, Up with Dead People
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Otto; or, Up with Dead People

Germany, 2007, 95 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: Canada
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Gay, Lesbian, Sci-Fi / Horror / Fantasy, Sexually Explicit
Program: World Cinema
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Bruce LaBruce

Otto is a beautiful young man who smells dead, looks dead and perhaps is dead. As he wanders the streets of Berlin, hassled, derided and sleepless, he eventually falls in with an über-pretentious, avant-garde filmmaker, Medea Yarn (an anagram of Maya Deren). She is making a porno-political-zombie flick — its central premise is a gay zombie revolution intended to destroy consumerist alienation — and decides to document Otto’s life. By the way, did we mention that the sex scenes in Otto include the eating of entrails?
Over the years, Bruce LaBruce has assaulted us with indelible images of pain, blood and abject and/or aberrant sexual desire. His style is a wry combination of academic brutality, horror-show pornographic jouissance and literal smack-your-head-with-a-hammer slapstick. Like all of LaBruce’s work — he is also a photographer and writer — Otto is completely original, even as it extends a post-punk homocore legacy, influenced by culture creators like Jack Smith, Kenneth Anger and Diamanda Galas.
This reworking of the zombie genre is strictly “LaBruce” — i.e., there are scenes in which young men fuck each other in their festering wounds. But his ingenious turns allow LaBruce to recapture the deconstructive social power inherent in gay sexuality by critiquing the co-optation of gayness by mainstream culture. In LaBruce’s Germany (where German-ness equals speaking English with a German accent), even Otto, undead and more marginal than anyone imaginable, is pushed to become one of us. — SEAN UYEHARA

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