If there’s a horror movie for every demographic, then Otto: Or, Up With Dead People is likely the quintessential same sex avant-garde political zombie comedy du jour. The brainchild of Canadian queer cinema pioneer Bruce LaBruce, the movie is also keen to make the point that the undead can have their own set of identity and existential issues. Like inescapable immortality, and that it can be hard out there for a zombie too.
A kind of low budget road movie within a low budget movie, Otto tracks the aimless odyssey of the title character in question, a young gay urban nomad (Jey Crisfar) who’s either profoundly delusional about being a zombie and is just a run of the mill goth, or really is one. In any case, the down in the dumps zombie with exceedingly bad hygiene who snacks on fresh roadkill and speaks in English with a German accent and without benefit of subtitles, stumbles onto a low budget political gay undead film set one day. The production is described as ‘insurgent sissies from beyond the grave.’ And Otto is immediately recruited as the most authentic available leading ‘damaged boy’ zombie around, and with no need to audition.
The movie in progress is titled Up With Dead People, what else, and concerns the urban revolt of gay zombies, who are being set afire by intolerant gangs of straight people who hunt them down. But Otto has more pressing personal angst to worry about, including severe amnesia interrupted by erotic flashbacks focusing on a barely remembered lover, and an enigma around why he doesn’t crave tasty human flesh like his fellow zombies, possibly because he may have been a vegetarian or even vegan in his pre-mortem life.
Otto: Or, Up With Dead People is marked by quite an identity crisis of its own, veering between raw zombie cuisine, raw gay porn, high calorie sex that includes entrails-devouring as foreplay, and cranky anti-establishment rants against advanced capitalism. Witty and weirdly wise in some spots, the film feels mostly like a juxtaposition of incongruous patchwork quilt genres, though with a decided insider joke appeal.