Otto; or, Up with Dead People

Director: Bruce LaBruce
Screenwriters: Bruce LaBruce

Institute History

  • 2008 Sundance Film Festival


Otto is a handsome, sensitive, neo-Goth zombie with an identity crisis. He looks and smells like a zombie but isn’t certain that he is one. He wanders the streets of the city, never sleeping, until one day—as he is being harassed by hooligans—he ducks into an alley and spots a poster announcing auditions for a zombie film. He soon meets aspiring filmmaker/revolutionary Medea Yarn, who is convinced that Otto, as a confused zombie, is the perfect embodiment of the effects of advanced capitalism on individuals. Medea begins to make a film about Otto, while simultaneously shooting a film about a gay zombie revolt against consumerist society. After moving in with an actor, Otto begins to remember fragments of his pre-zombie life with a sweet boyfriend. As Medea directs the final, orgiastic scene of her gay zombie film, Otto struggles to access the human emotions buried beneath his zombie exterior.

Otto; or, Up with Dead People is a clever modern fable about alienation and the problems created by a mass-produced society, where even the members most on the fringe find it hard to resist being pulled into the mainstream. Toying with genre conventions, combining different media, and making use of Medea’s often-humorous films-within-the-film, Bruce LaBruce creates a new, sexy, hyperpoliticized zombie mythology.

— Matt Anderson

Screening Details

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