I have never seen a film "avant fag" (as I've heard him described by fans) filmmaker Bruce LaBruce and so I wasn't entirely sure what to expect with his latest film, the romantic meta horror comedy Otto; or, Up with Dead People. In the end it's as if Shaun of the Dead was bitten by a zombie Charlie Kaufman and then mated with David Lynch's Mulholland Drive and went for a picnic on the set of a gay porn film with only barbecue chicken wings and NO SALAD! And, ya know what, I'm down for that every now and then.
Some of the telltale signs of "independent cinema" are alive and kicking, but thankfully they're kept to a minimum. Sure, the actors obviously aren't graduates of the Meryl Streep School for Seriously Well-Gifted People and there's something incredibly strange about watching a film that throws in a gay zombie orgy for seemingly no real reason other than to see if he can make anybody get a boner. There's "quirk" (a silent movie actress in particular) too, but it actually felt at home here, unlike so many apparent indie films that are actually mainstream masquerading as indie.
Thankfully LaBruce makes the film look better than your usual low-budget stuff. It looks like it was actually made on film and with a cinematographer who has letters at the end of his/her name. I really quite liked Jey Crisfar as the titular character, even though all he does is stare blankly and stumble around. I definitely "got" what LaBruce was "saying" although, perhaps, it's hard not to when you have a movie about a society in which zombies are an "accepted" part of life... unless they're gay and spreading their disease to other depraved people who hang around back alleyways and nightclubs dressed as zombies because, presumably, it means they can get away with wearing as little clothing as possible.
I'd also like to give a shout-out to whoever it was who came up with the costume design for Otto. I sort of hate the "goth" look on people because it comes off looking stupid and, especially the last five years, hypocritical. But the look that Otto sports I can get behind. His brand of preppy goth is actually kind of sexy and it actually helped me like the character of Otto much more. Strange, but true. Shame the film doesn't seem to have a credited designer (and I've already sent the DVD back from whence it came). B-
And as a gift because I couldn't help but think of it while watching the movie, here are Antony and the Johnsons performing "I Fell in Love with a Dead Boy".