Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Otto; or Up with Dead People

Some have described this as more cohesive than most Bruce La Bruce movies, but it’s still sophomoric junk.

Nov 7, 2008

-By David Noh


For movie details, please click here.

Bruce LaBruce’s Otto; or Up with Dead People just makes you appreciate how good Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton’s I Walked with a Zombie is. Despite its penny-dreadful title, that 1943 film not only cleverly “stole” the plot of Jane Eyre, re-setting it in Haiti, but was careful to present in vivid detail the cultural origins and practices of voodoo, of which zombie-ism is an offshoot.

Otto has no such interest in depth of any kind, preferring to take as its model, as have so many other like-minded current purveyors of genre fodder, the ineffably crappy, inexplicably popular Night of the Living Dead, only amping up the guts and gore in a “new” gay way. Yes, this film is about an invasion of gay zombies and centers around one named Otto (Jey Krisfar, dressed by the talented designer Rick Owens, and actually rather affecting in the impossible circumstances), as he gets up from his grave and stumbles his way through the streets and clubs of Berlin. Sex and violence are married here in scenes wherein the zombies not only screw rapaciously (in LaBruce’s very patented and very un-erotic “hardcore” style), but rip out each other’s entrails and devour them as they do so. There are torturous romantic flashbacks of Otto before callous lovers began to really mistreat him and even more torturous scenes involving an abrasive, loudmouthed movie director (Katharine Klewinghaus) who has cast Otto in her own gore-porno.

Throughout, the ever-sophomoric LaBruce continues his willfully alienating, off-kilter (is it deliberate or not?) directorial technique, with unappealing characters, annoying son et lumière tricks (this time representing how Otto perceives the world) and incongruous, impromptu modern-dance routines. Nothing ever seems to change with him, from his eternally jejune world purview, all loud punk music (some of it admittedly good) and pointless anarchy, to shock effects that are often simply risible, to even his preferred “type” of guy—skinny skinheads. A vitally essential part of any artist’s life is the chance to grow and develop, but LaBruce, more than any other filmmaker I can think of, is happily stuck in his completely self-serving rut, and I imagine will continue to turn out these predictably inane, unwatchable efforts as long as he can scrape together the pennies to do them. He calls his filmmaking company Existential Crisis—how sadly true.


Film Review: Otto; or Up with Dead People

Some have described this as more cohesive than most Bruce La Bruce movies, but it’s still sophomoric junk.

Nov 7, 2008

-By David Noh


For movie details, please click here.

Bruce LaBruce’s Otto; or Up with Dead People just makes you appreciate how good Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton’s I Walked with a Zombie is. Despite its penny-dreadful title, that 1943 film not only cleverly “stole” the plot of Jane Eyre, re-setting it in Haiti, but was careful to present in vivid detail the cultural origins and practices of voodoo, of which zombie-ism is an offshoot.

Otto has no such interest in depth of any kind, preferring to take as its model, as have so many other like-minded current purveyors of genre fodder, the ineffably crappy, inexplicably popular Night of the Living Dead, only amping up the guts and gore in a “new” gay way. Yes, this film is about an invasion of gay zombies and centers around one named Otto (Jey Krisfar, dressed by the talented designer Rick Owens, and actually rather affecting in the impossible circumstances), as he gets up from his grave and stumbles his way through the streets and clubs of Berlin. Sex and violence are married here in scenes wherein the zombies not only screw rapaciously (in LaBruce’s very patented and very un-erotic “hardcore” style), but rip out each other’s entrails and devour them as they do so. There are torturous romantic flashbacks of Otto before callous lovers began to really mistreat him and even more torturous scenes involving an abrasive, loudmouthed movie director (Katharine Klewinghaus) who has cast Otto in her own gore-porno.

Throughout, the ever-sophomoric LaBruce continues his willfully alienating, off-kilter (is it deliberate or not?) directorial technique, with unappealing characters, annoying son et lumière tricks (this time representing how Otto perceives the world) and incongruous, impromptu modern-dance routines. Nothing ever seems to change with him, from his eternally jejune world purview, all loud punk music (some of it admittedly good) and pointless anarchy, to shock effects that are often simply risible, to even his preferred “type” of guy—skinny skinheads. A vitally essential part of any artist’s life is the chance to grow and develop, but LaBruce, more than any other filmmaker I can think of, is happily stuck in his completely self-serving rut, and I imagine will continue to turn out these predictably inane, unwatchable efforts as long as he can scrape together the pennies to do them. He calls his filmmaking company Existential Crisis—how sadly true.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Citizenfour
Film Review: Citizenfour

Documentary account of how Edward Snowden leaked intelligence to the world press. More »

Glen Campbell I'll Be Me
Film Review: Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me

Alzheimer's is given an unforgettably human face here, and that face belongs to a music legend. More »

White Bird in a Blizzard
Film Review: White Bird in a Blizzard

A clichéd indie about a girl’s coming-of-age amidst her mother’s disappearance that, despite a sturdy lead performance by Shailene Woodley, is undone by hackneyed, go-nowhere plotting. More »

Exists
Film Review: Exists

Blair Witch Project co-director Eduardo Sanchez returns to the faux-found footage well and hauls out a bucketful of Bigfoot in this derivative but creepy shocker. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

John Wick
Film Review: John Wick

Retired hit man seeks revenge on Russian mob in an above-average action film. More »

Fury Review
Film Review: Fury

American tanks fight superior German forces in the closing days of World War II. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here