Thursday, April 03, 2008

LLGFF: Attack of the Gay Zombies

The Southbank Centre; photo by Val PhoenixIf there are any trends to be found at this year's festivals, gay zombies would be one. Apparently, the current crisis in masculinity extends to zombies -- they have feelings, too. No lesbian zombies, though. Perhaps next year.

Bruce La Bruce's latest epic Otto; Or Up With Dead People [sic] cleverly combines a zombie horror flick with social criticism of capitalism, consumerism, environmental crisis and anti-gay discrimination.

As Otto, the gay zombie with an identity crisis, is let loose on swinging Berlin, havoc ensues. LaBruce makes clever use of the location, with Otto stumbling through trendy Kreuzberg and other recognisable neighbourhoods. Surely, if there is anywhere a gay zombie would feel at home it's Kreuzberg, but not Otto, who is resigned to a life of undeadness, save for the odd flash of memory: happy days with a boyfriend, a butcher chopping flesh. What does it all mean?

La Bruce leaves it unclear as to whether Otto really is a zombie or rather a young man suffering from some trauma and/or mental illness, but uses the trope of hilariously pretentious Kunstfilm director Medea Yarn (another recognisable Berliner type) as a narrative device. Seeking to exploit Otto's confusion, she casts him in her latest silent opus, Up With Dead People, seeing him as a metaphor for the modern age. Taking him to a rubbish dump, she delivers a ranting monologue on the immortality of non-biodegradable waste,and concludes: "Some day all of this will be yours."

Also showing in the festival is Michael Simon's comic short Gay Zombie, a more heavy-handed critique, this time of gay male body fascism, as a neurotic gay zombie tries to come out in West Hollywood, prompting the natives to give him a makeover. Will he find true love or will he eat his new friends?

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