In this dirty, nasty underground piece of craziness – celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year – the zombie horror sub-genre receives the Bruce LaBruce treatment with degenerate sex, violence, political anarchy and really cute guys… who are just a little bit undead.
Otto (Jey Crisfar) is a really cute twink… who happens to be one of the living dead. When not feasting on roadkill or staggering around Berlin, Otto ponders his existence. Soon he finds a purpose with a role in a queer zombie movie directed by a would-be revolutionary lesbian filmmaker. Otto’s fellow cast members are amused by his “method acting,” and a few find him very attractive – actually, zombies are fetishized quite in LaBruce’s queer universe – but there’s more to this story than meets the jaundiced eye.
Otto; or, Up with Dead People made a huge splash at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008 (where a few audience members bolted from the theater during an outrageous scene tellingly dubbed “the gut fuck”), and while it contains the Canadian provocateur’s signature themes of explicit sexuality, dark humor and formalist flourishes, this particular film also represented an artistic evolution for him. Insane as it may be, this was a major leap toward more mainstream filmmaking compared to some of his earlier work.
With an emotional core, superb music (including a melancholy song by Antony & The Johnsons) and many nods to genre influences like Carnival of Souls and horror auteurs like George A. Romero, Otto; or, Up with Dead People rises high while remaining proudly, bloodily lowbrow. We recommend adding it to your regular Halloween rotation.