Magazine article Filmmaker


Magazine article Filmmaker


Article excerpt

Bruce LaBruce

finds zombies among today's reality TV-crazed teens in his latest film, Otto; or Up with Dead People.

If you are talking about a filmmaker who tackles sociopolitical topics and taboos in a sensationalistic style with good ol' gay sex, then you might be speaking of Bruce LaBruce. With roots in zines, photography and every film format ever created, LaBruce has established a style that is slick yet defiandy lo-fi. In LaBruce's sixth feature film Otto; or Up with Dead People, Otto is a disaffected gay teenager who gets bit by a zombie. A wanna-be revolutionary casts him in her politically laced zombie film, only to start a documentary about Otto. LaBruce attaches the zombie genre to today's MySpace reality-TV world, obsessed with documenting moments instead of experiencing them; except with enough sex, gore and humor to make you sit up in your seat. Strand Releasing opens the film in November.

It seems like every famous filmmaker from Lumiere to Kubrick wanted porn in their art. You've been one of the few to pull it off in more than one film with actual stories and acting with real sex. What is your motivating factor for this combination? It's true. You know I interviewed the great Joseph Stefano a while back on the set of Gus Van Sant's Psycho remake - Mr. Stefano wrote the original Psycho screenplay and produced The Outer Limits on TV - and he told me he and his colleagues always talked about wanting to make porn in the '70s. I think it's just a natural thing because graphic sex is a natural part of most people's lives. It almost seems odd that it's elided from mainstream film. I just saw I Am Legend, and I was thinking, "If I made that film, the main character would definitely be watching porn and having sex with a blow-up doll, if not the dog!" But then again that movie was totally ideologically reactionary because the Will Smith character was supposed to be so pure and righteous that even when he's the last man on Earth he clings to monogamy and fidelity, not to mention Christianity. Don't get me started. For me, like Godard said, the sexual is political, and I've always used explicit sex to make certain political statements about gay representation, about defining and transgressing taboos, about issues of homosexual identity and difference, etc. But having said that, I'm still not in favor of the mainstreaming of pornography. Like Jane Fonda says in Klute, "inhibitions are always nice because they're so nice to overcome."

Is the Internet ruining that? The lure of finding dirty magazines in dumpsters is so lost now. The Internet is an amazing playground where you can find any kind of pornography that your imagination desires. I've even seen some zombie porn on the net, which I predict will become huge in the next few years. As I demonstrate in Otto, you can create your own orifice in a rotting zombie body. It's so convenient! Kids are so lucky these days. When I was a teenager, all I had access to was my brother's hidden copies of Naked Lunch and The Happy Hooker. Actually, maybe that wasn't so bad.

Are famous actors wrong to be scared of real sex in their films? Are distributors scared for no reason? You can see anything on the Internet. I think it's a sign of the times that it does make a difference. There were famous instances in the '70s - Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in Don't Look Now; Sarah Miles and Kris Kristofferson in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea - where stars performed extremely graphic sex scenes, albeit without penetration being shown, which is the line that separates softcore from hardcore, and it didn't negatively affect their careers. Today I think it would. I mean, actors are still afraid to define publicly their sexuality as bisexual, never mind gay, out of the fear of limiting their careers. Despite the outward appearance of sexual permissiveness in our culture, there is a new overriding Puritanism that even extends to a resurgence of homophobia and antifeminist sentiments. …

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