Tall, Dark, and Dead – 53 – Otto; or Up with Dead People

Title: Otto; or Up with Dead People
Year: 2008
Director: Bruce LaBruce
Leads: Jey Crisfar, Katharina Klewinghaus

Favorite quote: “The living all seem like the same person to me, and I don’t think I like that person very much.”

Thoughts: I’m going to start with what I liked about Otto. I loved the opening, as well as the more fantastical elements sprinkled throughout the film – for instance, the characters of Hella and Medea, who are fighting against the idea of a majority-driven consensual reality (to the effect of Hella being presented as a sort of flickering, black and white 1920s ghost). I respected that the creators gave their zombies a job to do, politicizing them in order to talk about issues such as AIDS, revolution, and gay society. I also became very fond of Otto himself.

Zombies were born to be metaphors, after all, and I think that many times zombie creators forget this, or forget to think about it – I know that I didn’t think about it before starting my first draft of Dearly, Departed. It wasn’t until I finished that I realized, “Ohmigosh, Romero was right. These guys are the best metaphors ever.” And with Otto, Medea very consciously does this; someone actually says of her, “She sees Otto not as a man, but as a being upon which she can project her political agenda.” This is a very self-aware movie.

All that said, the film fell flat in parts. I got that they were trying to parody avant-garde German cinema, but the end result lacked the skill and humor necessary to pull this off. Additionally, the vast majority of the characters came across as ridiculous and shameful, which may in fact be the point – but it made it hard to want to go along with them for the ride.

This film would be fascinating, I’m sure, to anyone interested in gay horror. I feel unqualified to talk about that aspect of the film, simply because I’m not well read in that particular area. I feel unqualified to unpack many of the themes present in this movie.

Links: Otto on Wikipedia

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