DEAD GIVE HEAD : Otto; or, Up with Dead People

I so wanted to enjoy Bruce La Bruce's gay/zombie/sociopolitical/soft-core-porn- film, Otto; or Up with Dead People - but unfortunately, it left me cold.

There is no denying that the tale of the poor little zombie boy is an ambitious one - it is, and ultimately that is the film's undoing.

Beginning with Otto (Jey Crisfar) rising from the grave and stumbling through the German countryside, we are told, through a voice over, that in the not so distant future, the dead are rising but are mostly viewed by society as nothing more than an annoyance as opposed to a threat. Also, it seems that the undead are all gay, and if one is attacked by them, he too shall become a Friend of Dorothy; albeit a dead FOD.
Katharina Klewinghaus plays, Madea Yarn, a film-maker who is throwing together a film about gay zombies, and somehow, Otto is drawn to her and ends up as the star of her film.

One of the most ingenious gags in the film is that Madea is dating Hella Bent (Susanne Sachße), a silent film star. Whenever Hella appears, she is in black and white, and only "speaks" through title-cards. She even has her own barrel house piano soundtrack...at first this is really a nifty trick, but over time, it becomes nothing more than a distraction.Otto... is full of distractions, there are long political and sociological meanderings, an irritating soundtrack, animated inserts, and some dreadful acting (mostly by Ms. Klewinghaus).

Now lets talk about the sex scenes. Yes, this movie is full of male zombie on male zombie action, and it is not for the faint of heart.

At one point, we watch one zombie fuck another through a hole in his partner's torso:Later on we get to see Otto pick up a trick at a zombie bar (oh, I forgot to mention that Berlin has these bars where gay men pretend to be zombies - who needs leather? ) and said trick thinks that the glassy eyed twink is just another poser ... boy does he find out he was wrong:And then of course, there is the gay zombie orgy that serves as the finale to Madea's opus. What a subdued and subtle scene, watching these guys fucking and sucking amidst slabs of raw meat was, err, that is...OK , actually it was kind of hot. Sue me: So eventually, Otto ends up having sex with one of the film's actors. This time, though, he does not feel the need to kill his partner ... could it be that our little un-dead party boy is going to find happiness at last? Of course not, the next morning the actor wakes up and finds Otto gone:Blah, blah, blah...Otto's star turn is over, he get's laid, he reunites with his boyfriend (the one that he had pre-zombie), and eventually, he shambles off and heads north hoping he'll keep better in a cooler climate. I suppose we might be treated to his further adventures sometime in the future (hey maybe Logo can make a weekly series about Otto!)
Anyone familiar with Mr. La Bruce's work will not be surprised by this movie's temperament. Though I wonder what those thinking that they are going to see a run of the mill horror film might make of it.

As I said, Otto... is a very ambitious film, and I applaud that. I enjoyed the fact that the zombie plague serves as a metaphor for AIDS, or the myth of gay's recruiting straight folks to join their ranks - somewhere, in this mess of film, is a really great movie just trying to get out ... oh well, maybe next time. For now, give it a spin, and if you enjoy the dirty parts, make sure you check out the deleted scenes.


Vince Liaguno said...

Ok...you had me at "gay zombie orgy."

Jason Adams said...

See, I went into expecting it to be TERRIBLE because honestly BLB's films always strike me as TERRIBLE and I was surprised to find that I actually didn't want to claw my eyes out at the scenes that didn't involve zombie orgies or wound-fucking (I knew I'd like that stuff going in, of course). It's by no means a Great Film but like you said there's a stew of ideas simmering in there that are at least interesting, if not coherent, and I enjoyed it more than I have BLB's other movies.

Plus zombie orgy and wound-fucking, yay!