Last year Netflix introduced the ability to stream certain movies on your television using the Xbox 360 via a Gold Membership from Microsoft. I signed up for the membership, but not until recently have I utilized this feature. Looking for zombie movies to watch, I added a bunch of films to my queue. I guess I should have read descriptions a little better, because writer/director Bruce LaBruce's Otto; Or, Up With Dead People wasn't the sort of zombie movie I was expecting it to be.
After I was finished watching it, I did a little research on the film. Otto is described as a "political-porno-zombie movie." I found this a little funny, because I didn't get a lot of political themed messages from the film as much as I got porn. It isn't that I have anything against graphic sexual content, it's just that Otto; Or, Up with Dead People is one of the most confusing films when it comes to its sexual content.
It would have been interesting if the film was able to draw parallels between the treatment of homosexuals in real life and the fear that zombies cause in movies. But LaBruce never managed to create something deep or meaningful with his film. And at times, Otto felt like it was mocking what it was trying to stand up for. Medea Yarn (Katharina Klenwinghaus), a documentary film maker who is documenting the gay zombie epidemic that takes place in the film, came off as a parody of the artsy filmmaker type. Just seeing the way she carried herself, and the way she acted around people made it hard to like her and even harder to care about any positive outcomes she was trying to do with her filmmaking.
Otto (Jey Crisfar) was an interesting character to an extent, and I liked the way he looked in the film. When he is first introduced, the film is in black and white and it added an interesting dark element to the character. I wish the film would have stayed in black and white, since color took away from the film's grittiness. Also, the film only takes the character of Otto so far before it resorts back to its bizarre gimmicks and its graphic sexual content.
There is a lot of awkward, and sometimes rather disgusting scenes of sexuality in this film. At one point two male zombies are getting it on, and one has a huge gash in his side that the other inserts his manly parts into... and you can guess where that goes from there. Again, I don't have a problem with sexual content in a film, but the sexual content of Otto; Or, Up With Dead People always felt exploitative and never part of the story.
There are other things with this film that either confused me or annoyed me; there is one character who always appears to be in a silent film, even if the rest of the scene is in color and with sound. The idea of making a film that mixes zombies with homosexual themes could have worked, and a pretty decent film could have emerged from it. But Bruce LaBruce's film is more exploitative and less informative and moving like it could, and should, have been.