Thursday, January 24, 2008

There's a Place for Gay Zombies

Saw Otto; or Up With Dead People and it may best be described as a gay gore horror mockumentary with zombies and sex, but even that doesn’t do it justice. Director Bruce LaBruce's storytelling doesn't shy away from soft-core porn elements, which has put the out director on the underground map—if there were a map of the underground (that's an inside Otto joke). We hosted a Queer Lounge panel featuring the director earlier this week and he said then that his filmmaking is often at odds — he presumed — with GLAAD because his highly-sexual characters aren’t “positive” gay role models.

I was happy to have had a chance to meet the director and hopefully dispel his notion that GLAAD rebels against images that may not be considere "positive." He thanked me for letting him know that GLAAD’s mission is to see “fair, accurate and inclusive” representations of LGBT lives on the screen — whether those be zombies or otherwise. While Otto may not be for everyone (between the flesh-eating and the hints of gratuitous sex, plenty of people walked out of the screening), I found the script to be campy sharp (ripe for a midnight movie) and the story a not-so-veiled-metaphor of the violence gay people face every day.

Sure, LGBT serial killers, in films like Basic Instinct and Silence of the Lambs, once raised red flags at GLAAD and for good reason; in the absence of “positive” images it’s necessary to get upset over the “negative” ones. But we’re in a different time now, where there are more representations of our lives in all forms of media. There’s room now for good, bad and plenty of grey shades in between. When there are two dozen LGBT-inclusive films screening at Sundance and Slamdance, and another two dozen at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, there are going to be LGBT images that run the gamut from positive to negative stereotypes, and odds are that many will fall into the "fair, accurate and inclusive" bucket.

And with Otto, Bruce has created a sexy horror spoof inclusive of gay people, er, zombies.

Take a look at a clip of Bruce at our Queer Lounge panel:

An interesting side note: At the Queer Lounge panel I sat next to the adorable Jey Crisfar, who plays Otto (above) with delightful abandon. Bruce revealed how he cast Jey for this pivotal part: "I found him on MySpace."

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