Dec 22, 2012

Otto; or, Up with Dead People

Both an anti-zombie and anti-arthouse flick, as well as pretentious avant-garde postmodern black-and-white far-left propaganda film within a pornographic Milligan-esque melodrama, Otto; or, Up with Dead People (2008) – a Canadian-German co-production featuring a virtually all-German cast – is undoubtedly homocore auteur Bruce LaBruce’s most ambitious and experimental work to date. Featuring a pseudo-existentialist zombie twink with amnesia as the flesh-eating anti-human who, in his own monotone melancholy words, “might have been a vegetarian; or worse, a vegan” during his previous life, Otto; or, Up with Dead People is not the sort of living dead flick that would appeal to most fans of the popular AMC TV series The Walking Dead (2010-present), or George A. Zombie, Lucio Fuci and/or zombie-comedies like The Return of the Living Dead (1985) and Shaun of the Dead (2004), but it does feature random integral ingredients from all of these undead cannibal cinematic works. For starters, the zombie hero of LaBruce’s Teutonic flesh-eating realm is more into fucking human flesh than devouring it, but he still manages to do both out of necessity as long as it is not of the fairer sex. Indeed, Otto; or, Up with Dead People is far from a “straight” zombie work in any sense of the word, but a film that seems to be rivaled by just as many prissy poofs that wallow in shallow and cliché narcissism-fueled fairy fag flick like Latter Days (2003) and Were the World Mine (2008) as mindless gore-groupies of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), which is no surprise considering LaBruce’s sanctified ambivalence to the formulaic conventions and themes from both of these categories. As a sort of gay Godard minus cinematic smugness meets Zombieland (2009) without the feel-good feverishness meets old school John Waters, Otto; or, Up with Dead People is a cleverly contrived carnivorously carnal camp piece of postmortem cannibalism and cum where humans dare not be afraid of zombies as they are as languid and lifeless as contemporary French arthouse flicks. Centering around an emo-fag of a flesh fiend named Otto (played by novice Belgian actor Jey Crisfar) who often asks himself, “how do you kill yourself if you are already dead?!,” Otto; or, Up with Dead People is more at odds with the banality of his aimless life than the mundane bipedal meat he eats known as mankind, so much so that he is willing to star in a pretentious avant-garde agitprop piece directed by a megalomaniacal epigone lesbian auteuress entitled Up with Dead People that the academically-fanatical female filmmaker describes as, “my magnum opus…my dissertation of the death.” 

 A so-called “one man revolution against reality” and "prince of zombie" according to a hot hack filmmaker named Medea Yarn (Katharina Klewinghaus) – a director that seems to believe she is the supreme spiritual spawn of F.W. Murnau and Ulrike Ottinger – zonked-out zombie Otto’s only real priority seems to be recollecting his life as a human, a haunted homo human. After hitching a ride to Berlin, Germany with good bourgeois folks who seem less than stunned by his emo-goth zombie look, Otto meets up with Medea Yarn and her meekish crew of cinematic collaborators, which includes her brother Adolf (Guido Sommer), flapper Louise Brooks-look-alike girlfriend Hella Bent (Susanne Sachße); a fashion victim of "Father of the New Left" Herbert Marcuse, and various other artsy fartsy, cultural marxist, abberosexual cinema snobs. Unbeknownst to Otto – who really is a seemingly schizophrenic sodomite who probably fried his brain on ecstasy and meth after one too many trips to the local gay bar – the band of bodacious filmmakers do not believe the brain-damaged boy is really a zombie, but an unconscious revolutionary and sexual liberator whose raunchy and radical flesh-fucking rejection of technocratic corporate ‘reality’ via mental derangement has made him one long step closer to freedom from globalist tyranny. Upon meeting his new compatriots in cinema, Otto is forced into watching Yarn’s yawn-inspiring silent films, which he describes as, ”The ones that put her on the underground map, if the underground has a map,” including such grandiloquently titled works as “Duet for Somnambulists” and “Lascivious Ballet of Meditation on the Ordeal of the Death Ritual in the Mirror of Transfigured Night.” Quoting pontifical puffery for her film “Up with Dead People,” Medea Yarn states that it is believed by many people that zombies are, “a punishment on mankind by. A theological explanation such as this gained even more popularity when it became apparent that the latest cycle of zombies was homosexual. A gay plague had descended on humanity.” Indeed, the homo-flesh-eaters are known as “The Purple Peril” in Yarn’s loony leftist take on the living but lecherously undead where a “zombie Che Guevara” leads the worldwide rectal revolution of ravaged, reamed, and eventually reanimated flesh. 

 More likely suffering from “disorders of the soul” (i.e. schizophrenia, anorexia, and melancholia) as mentioned by his Turk twink boyfriend than any sort of postmortem zombification, Otto ultimately seems to be a figuratively “dead soul” (Ukrainian-born Russian novelist 1842 allegorical novel Dead Souls being one of his favorite books) who continues to believe, “I am dead. I mean, I don’t think I’m dead. I’m dead,” after being hounded by filmmaker Medea Yarn with questions regarding whether or not he still believes he is a true blue zombie not long after she no longer needs to use him for shooting with the completion of principle photography for Up with Dead People. Realizing that “the living have no respect for the dead,” Otto eventually decides to leave Berlin so as to forget a painfully penetrating past life best left forgotten, especially learning intolerable insights after a temporary reunion with his brown ex-boyfriend, being beaten by a gang of teenage Turkish termites, and facing much condescending humanist swill from ultra-vainglorious auteur Medea Yarn and her conceited cinematic cohorts. If anything, Otto is finally able to resolve that he is a “zombie with an identity crisis.” Upon a superficial glance of the synopsis and the American Strand Releasing DVD cover art, and tastelessly cheap, pomo homo tagline "Bringing Sexy Back...From the Dead," Otto; or, Up with Dead People seems the ultimate excursion in zombie emo-fag hipsterdom, but the film is undoubtedly one of LaBruce’s, if not his most, aesthetically and thematically ambitious and experimental works yet and surely the sort of sharply schlocky and sardonic that will leave less studied cinephiles quite dumfounded in its deconstruction and ravenous reconstruction of zombie movie conventions. Bruce LaBruce would follow-up Otto; or, Up with Dead People with the quite seriously sickening “hardcore” living dead orgy L.A. Zombie (2010) – a work that although reviving the filmmaker’s fixation with a pseudo-zombie with an identity crisis – is a much more traditional flesh-eater flick, albeit with hordes of blood-drenched homo-sex as the homocore director’s equivalent to Romero's special-effects-driven work Day of the Dead (1985). A potently putrid parody of lethal pseudo-intellectual left-wing fanaticism and the beaten-to-death zombie hysteria that has plagued movie theaters and mainstream society over the past decade or so, Otto; or, Up with Dead People is a film for those fed up with fervent fanaticism for flesh-eaters, fashionable neo-Marxist psychobabble and monotonous mainstream faggotry. A self-proclaimed lapsed leftist who admitted he was once “brainwashed by my Marxist-feminist education at university” and grew to “resent being raised at a time when you felt you had to conform to the ways of being gay that are presented to you,” Bruce LaBruce is one of the last living iconoclasts of politically-incorrect fagdom who is not afraid to portray cocksuckers as mindless yet militant hordes of death-worshipping and death-dealing spreaders of deleterious disease and feral debauchery as depicted in Otto; or, Up with Dead People; a zombie flick that acts as a triple-assault bullet to the brain of braindead gorehound, gaudy anachronistic avant-garde 'auteur' filmmakers, and fanatical fag-scists. 

-Ty E

1 comment:

Tracy Vanity said...

Excellent article, you really captured everything about the film and about Bruce's work as an artist. I adore him so much. Otto is one of my favorite films.