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Otto; Or, Up with Dead People 

Wednesday, Jan 14 2009

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 whether LaBruce is mocking Medea's Eurotrash 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 fuckbots. 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.

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Aaron Hillis


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