The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (19)
| Top Critics (8)
| Fresh (8)
| Rotten (11)
| DVD (2)
Its metaphorical examination of the plight of queer zombies in Germany is readymade for former LaBruce fans. Get ready for copulation with a hole in the stomach and such memorable quotes as "I was a zombie with an identity crisis."
Moviegoers with a LaBruce fetish will appreciate another imaginative offering from the filmmaker. Mainstream audiences should stay far, far away.
Otto deliriously intermingles sex and entrails but is also imaginative and witty
LaBruce devotees will be tickled pink; others will be perplexed and/or disgusted.
One of the more disciplined entries in the LaBruce oeuvre, Otto is sexy and silly in just the right proportions, a cult item with a real heart.
Campy but not comical, reactionary but not very clever, LaBruce's film is best saved for those tickled by the sight of homo-zombie orgies or the hardcore penetration of an open wound.
Zombies don't ever take bubble baths, not even gay zombies.
Concessions to the audience's expectations certainly make Otto a more palatable viewing experience, but they also make it seem less dangerous.
Sadly, this is one of those moments where I have to scan my reviewer's list of dismissive nouns to come up with the perfect word to describe this mess. Ah, yes, here it is: claptrap.
LaBruce's film is such a riot of conflicting information and signifying styles that inner logic never really gets a grip.
Some have described this as more cohesive than most Bruce La Bruce movies, but it's still sophomoric junk.
For a movie with this many ideological loose ends, Otto comes up with a convincingly sweet resolution.
This film does a terrific job at eliminating audience members - weeding out the weak. Do not watch this film if you can't handle: gratuitous gore of the intestine eating sort, explicit gay sex (between zombies using fresh improvised gashes as sexual orifices), frequent cross-cutting of "reality" and "film", and dedicating major segments of the film to an art house indie director criticizing art house and non-mainstream film.
But if you're a weirdo like me and think all of that sounds like a hella good time, you will or will not be disappointed ;)
Some things that are truly outstanding here: the director character's lover is constantly encapsulated in a bubble of silent film; the lengths to which this director goes to be "avant garde" and the heights to which those attempts accidentally succeed and the hilarious depths to which they intentionally fail. Otto, the main zombie character, is constantly battling for a sense of identity, and his story juxtaposed and interweaving with this director's vision (Up With Dead People is the title of her film) makes the titling very apt (which the title itself is a wink-wink nudge-nudge satirical jab at fringe cinema).
Ultimately, this is not so much a film about zombies as it is a film about film; the zombie aspect is merely used as fuel for probing the subject of identity in both the personal and social arena.
Hot Gay Sex notes: for those looking to avoid poorly done zombie sex and see hardcore human/human (in appearance) gay male sex in the context of narrative feature, around 1:20:00 is the best example; beyond that you're on your own and in for some zombie/zombie, zombie/human combos
Stupid, annoying, "knowingly" pretentious, but also playful, sexy, clever and sometimes moving. Bruce La Bruce's messy film has lofty intentions that it simply doesn't come close to achieving (it especially falls short in trying to use the persecution of gay zombies as a metaphor for homophobia). However, there are some game performances (Jey Crisfar, as Otto, is actually quite subdued but very watchable, whilst everyone else is campy or hammy), some interesting technical bits and pieces (including a mute character perpetually seen in scratchy black and white footage with inter-titles, for no apparent good reason other than to comment on how pretentious film can be), lots of laughs and some occasionally good, though overdone, doses of irony. The bleak false ending and the almost as bleak actual ending are striking, the gore flows, the sex is hot and/or disturbing (including one guy fucking his undead boyfriend through his chest cavity). Prudes and/or homophobes - i.e. anyone who doesn't want to see a cock in another man's mouth, even if in context - should not watch.
More than anything else, I think this film spoofs pretentious film directors who only like to make artsy-fartsy documentaries where they deal with more or less deep subject matters (being a zombie) through what they consider to be really thought-provoking means (gay porn).
Don't despair during the first half an hour, the film becomes much clearer towards the end.
I actually thought this could have been a really, really good film if it was minus a few bits and pieces. I loved all the black and white shots, then all the saturated colour, the voice overs, and Jey Crisfar makes an appealing zombie (what this says about me, I don't want to go too far into. LOL). I was fine with the gay stuff, but I really thought the soft core porn aspect to it let the whole film down. And the gore, well, I the blood I could handle, the stringing out bits of guts could have done without. Minus those few elements, I thought this could have been quite an arty, good little film similar in tone to Nadja (but obviously about a zombie rather than a vampire!).
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