Thursday, March 27, 2014

Character Analysis: Otto

Character Analysis: Otto

By: A. Aleister Sirrat

    Okay, I know I’ve already reviewed this film before, and it might be considered “cheating”, but I really did want to do a “Character Analysis” on Otto from the German film “Otto, or Up with Dead People”.  I am also aware that Oancitizen also did a very in depth analysis of Otto’s character in his own video review, but I still wanted to attempt to do my own character analysis.  So without further adieu here is my Character Analysis on Otto from Bruce LaBruce’s 2008 film “Otto, or Up With Dead People”.


     Otto is a young man in his late teens-early twenties who claims to be an actual zombie.  He has no memory of his life before becoming a zombie, and wanders through the city of Berlin, Germany.   It is here where is discovered by a filmmaker named Madea Yarn, who casts Otto in her documentary “Up With Dead People”, which is a mock-umentary about the Gay Zombie Revolution.  However, nobody believes that Otto is an actual zombie; they think he is just dedicated role player/performer.  
Hello, Otto
That’s half the fun of the Otto’s character in the film; it is never really established whether or not he is a zombie or if he’s pretending to be one.  There is evidence to suggest both are possible.  At one point Otto runs into his ex-boyfriend, Rudolf, and he tells Otto that he has changed.  Rudolf tells Otto that he used to be a vegetarian and that he loved to read books, before his family sent him off to a Mental Hospital.  Maybe Otto is suffering from severe depression and pretends to be a zombie as an outlet. All these things would imply that Otto is a human, but I’m still not entirely convinced he is one.
Otto believes he is a zombie, and he does some very zombie-like things.  He eats road kill that he finds in the streets, he speaks in a very dreary monotone voice, he never bathes, he never sleeps, he sees exclusively in the color pink (I’m not sure if that counts as side effect of being a zombie or maybe it’s part of a neurological disorder) and he claims to not remember anything before being transformed into a zombie.  I mean there’s one scene where a guy invites him back to his place for sex, and then it cuts to the next morning and there is blood everywhere!  You think the guy is dead, but then the wakes up and tells Otto that “[he’s] amazing”.  I honestly think Otto killed the guy and then turned him into a zombie.                       
    His story is kind of tragic.  Everyone seems to have their idea of what Otto is, except him.  Everyone he comes across wants to use him, exploit him, or have sex with him.  


Actor Jey Crisfar plays Otto in the film.
Otto is played by a Belgian actor by the name of Jey Crisfar.  To this day it is the only film that Crisfar has appeared in.  Even though he is from Belgium and the film takes place in Germany, it has the benefit of being done entirely in English.  Crisfar’s English is not very good but—then again—none of the other actors in this film speak English very well either.  I think Otto’s accent actually works to his advantage.  If we are to believe he is a zombie, then his speech should sound somewhat impaired shouldn’t it?  I think Jey Crisfar did a wonderful job in this role. I really can’t picture any other actor in this role or wanting to play this role.


     My minds blank here.  I can’t think of any other films that feature a gay zombie character, so Otto is pretty unique.  If anything, I’d say he’s like a dramatic version of Phillip from the 2004 German Horror Comedy “Night of the Living Dorks” because both characters are social outcasts who become zombies that find it even more difficult to fit in the human world since their transformations.


     At the end of the film we see Otto completing the final scene of Madea’s film “Up with Dead People”.  Madea asks Otto where he is going to go now.  He tells her he’s going off on his own. The last shot we see is of him hitchhiking out of Berlin.  Maybe Otto is going to find other people/zombies like him?  Maybe he’s going to try to find out more about his past?  We never know what happens to Otto after the movie ends.  It actually is a perfect way to end a film about a truly unique, intriguing, and mysterious character.

Where did you go, Otto?
Click Here to Read My Original Review of "Otto, or Up With Dead People"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Character Analysis: Columbia

Character Analysis: Columbia

By: Brian Cotnoir

     Very few films have fans as loyal and bizarre as the “Rocky Horror Picture”.  What started out as a stage show that combined the elements of Science-Fiction and B-Horror Movies, has since flourished into a large cult following.  The stage play/film contains countless memorable characters from the eccentric cross-dressing Mad Scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter to the good girl turned slut Janet Weiss.  Aliens, Clones, elaborate musical numbers, human dissection, Transvestites, you name it this film has it!  So, as you can imagine it was quite a difficult decision for me to decide on which memorable character from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” to do a Character Analysis on.  So I asked my friends which character I should write this article on, and at one point we had a 3-way tie, that was broken by one vote.  So here is my Character Analysis on Columbia from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.

CHARACTER: Columbia from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)

Columbia is listed as “a groupie” in the “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”.  We know little about her except from what we she tells us in the musical numbers.  We are first introduced to her during the song the “Time Warp”.  It is during this song that we here—what I believe—is Columbia’s background story.  I believe the line the “Snake of a Guy” who gave her the “evil wink” is referring Dr. Frank N. Furter.  I think that Columbia followed Dr. Frank N. Furter’s up to his place, and that’s where she became a groupie, or “regular Frankie Fan” as she sang during the floor show.  She’s definitely more of a fan girl from the way she sings and acts around Dr. Frank N. Furter.  Though, she admits to at one point she “loved” Frank N. Furter, and that he used her and left her for Eddie.                           
    Columbia dresses in a flashy gold sequined hat and jacket, and is an accomplished tap dancer.  She introduces herself to the stranded travelers Brad Majors (A$$ Hole!) and his fiancĂ©e Janet Weiss (slut!) and tells them of how fortunate they are that they’ve been invited up to see Dr. Frank N. Furter’s laboratory and witness his latest and a greatest experiment.  Columbia isn’t as enthused about the Doctor’s creation, Rocky, as the others. Later we find out that after Dr. Frank N. Furter left her, Columbia was romantically involved with a man named Eddie; a motorcycle riding, saxophone playing bad boy.  Unfortunately, for Columbia, Dr. Frank N. Furter was just as interested in Eddie as she was, but he found Eddie very difficult to control so he extracted half of his brain to place in Rocky’s skull.  After Eddie escapes from the ice freezer and runs amuck in the laboratory, he is bludgeoned to death with an axe by Frank N. Furter.  Adding insult to injury, Frank N. Furter later tricks Columbia and the other guests into eating parts of Eddie’s body.  She also appears to have a close relationship with Magenta, a servant to Dr. Frank N. Furter. 


Columbia is played by an Australian performer named Nell Campbell (though she did go by her stage name “Little Nell” in the film).  She is fantastic in this role, ranging from flirty and bubbly to sad and angry.  Little Nell played the role of Columbia in the first ever stage production of the “Rocky Horror Show”.  So in 1975, she was asked to reprise the role for the film version.  She would appear in “Shock Treatment” the 1981 sequel to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” as Nurse Ansalong.  Besides that her only other notable film roles she had was in “The Killing Fields” (1984) and the 1990’s modernization of “Great Expectations” starring alongside great actors like Ethan Hawke, Robert DeNiro, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

She also recorded and released this in 1978


     As of this moment I can’t think of any characters Columbia is similar too.  I suppose if I had to stretch it I’d say she’s somewhat like The Painted Doll (played by singer Emilie Autumn) from “The Devils Carnival”.  Again, that is a very thin stretch of a comparison because “The Devils Carnival” has only been around for 2-years, and is slowly but surely gaining a cult-following like “Rocky Horror”.  But both characters are singers who are dedicated fans of their masters (Columbia is loyal to Dr. Frank N. Furter and The Painted Doll is loyal to Lucifer/The Devil).  Oh and you also have to admit that there other love interests are similar. Eddie from “Rocky Horror Picture Show” and The Scorpion from “Devils Carnival” do look quite similar; they dress the same and they both sing.  Just something for you to ponder.

I think they are similar...
Don't you???


Columbia gets turned into a stone statue along with Brad, Janet, Rocky, and Dr. Scott by Dr. Frank N. Furter, Riff Raff, and Magenta.  When she is “De-Medusa’d” she begins to sing and dance in Frank N. Furter’s stage show.  Before the show can reach its grand finale, the show is overtaken by Riff Raff and Magenta.  They inform Dr. Frank N. Furter that they are going to return to their beloved home planet of Transsexual-Transylvania, without the Doctor.  Riff Raff shoots Columbia, Dr. Frank N. Furter, and Rocky with a laser cannon that emits a beam of pure anti-matter, kill the three of them.  Columbia was an unfortunate bystander that was killed by a mad-man alien who had finally had enough.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

5 Reasons why Ariel from "The Little Mermaid" is the Most Misunderstood Disney Princess

5 Reasons why Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” is the Most Misunderstood Disney Princess

By: Brian Cotnoir

     A while back, I asked my friends to tell me who they thought was the Worst Disney Princess Ever.  The Most Popular responses I got were for Aurora (the eventual winner of the title) and Snow White.  However, I was surprised at the amount of people who told me that they felt Ariel from “The Little Mermaid” was the Worst Disney Princess.  I can understand why some of them felt that way because for me, personally, I always felt like Ariel was more misunderstood rather a bad princess.  And here are 5 Reasons why Ariel from the “Little Mermaid” is the Most Misunderstood Disney Princess.

1.) She wants more from Life...but is not ungrateful

Ariel is a mermaid princess.  She is one of the most fortunate creatures who lives under the sea.  So I think it’s a bit strange that she wants so desperately to be a human.  She wants to be a human so badly that she is even willing to give up her Princess Status.  Think about this:  do you recall any point in the film (or songs) where she sings about wanting to find a Human Prince to marry?  No, she only says that she wants to be human.  Who’s to say that she wouldn’t have fallen in love with a human fisherman or a sailor?  To me Ariel just got lucky and landed herself a Prince. She wasn’t waiting for her Prince to come like Snow White or Aurora, she went out and found one on her own.  Now true, Jasmine from “Aladdin” was a Princess who wanted more out of life, but the major difference is she did not want to sacrifice her Royal status.  Ariel doesn’t seem to care either way if she’s a Mermaid Princess or not, she just wants to be human and to be with a human.  I don’t see what’s so really wrong with that.

2.) She’s a Fan Girl

A little fan girl-ism never hurt anyone
Ariel is a Fan Girl, people.  Have you ever met a Fan Girl that is not a little bit weird or crazy?  She has a vast collection of possessions from the Human World.  Even though she doesn’t know the name or purpose of all her little trinkets she still finds them fascinating. So, is it weird that she collects things from the Human world?  I don’t think so.  It’s no weirder than girls her obsessive fans over things like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight”.  So we can’t fault Ariel for being a Fan Girl. By the way morbid thought:  I think it’s more than safe to assume that she acquired most of those things via shipwrecks, and more than likely some of those humans drowned.

3.) She Rescues the Prince

Ariel to the Rescue
Yeah, that’s right.  Ariel saved Prince Eric.  I bet you forgot about that part, huh?  Yeah, after his ship sinks in a storm, and he’s facing a certain death by drowning, he is rescued by Ariel and swam safely to shore.  That’s pretty bad a$$, if you ask me. I can’t recall any Disney film up to that point where the Princess had to rescue the Prince.  So right there, Prince Eric had more of a reason to want to be with Ariel because she saved his life and not just because she’s hot and can sing. 

4.) She learns that her actions have consequences

No Ariel if you sign it, Ursula gets all your song royalties
Ariel wants so desperately to be amongst the Humans that she agrees to trade her voice (and soul ultimately) to the Sea Witch, Ursula.  Ariel has 3-days to receive a kiss from her True Love (aka Prince Eric) and if she does not receive that kiss after 3-days, she will be turned back into mermaid and she will belong to Ursula.  After some sabotage, Ursula is now in possession of Ariel’s soul, and so it’s up to Ariel’s father, King Triton, to come to the rescue.  The King agrees to take Ariel’s place and is turned into a polyp by Ursula.  Now, seeing the damage that her selfishness has caused, Ariel is devastated, and wants nothing more than make it up to her father and save his life. She and Eric team up to vanquish Ursula and save the King’s life (as well as the others mermaids).  Wow, a Disney Princess that learns an actual lesson, that’s so rare in most early Disney animated films.  Usually, the rule of thumb is that the Princess is supposed to do nothing except look pretty and helpless, and wait for the Prince to come along in rescue her; but you’ve got to give Ariel credit, she proves herself capable of fighting her own battles (with a little help of course).

5.) She is a transgender advocate

And I’m not talking about how she goes to Ursula—whose character design was inspired by a Drag Queen named “Divine”—for help. I’m talking about Ariel herself.  What have I been saying this entire review; “Ariel is a mermaid who wants so desperately to be a human”.  We live in a more open-minded time.  Today the idea of a person dressing as the opposite sex or undergoing gender reassignment surgery isn’t that big of a deal for some people.  How is Ariel wanting to be human any different than a person who wants to change their gender?  I’m actually surprised that more Transgender Groups don’t talk about or use Ariel to help relay their message.  She was unhappy as a Mermaid and wanted to become a Human so she made it happen.  Some people feel that they are born the wrong gender and want to change that.  Now, true Ariel had magic used to turn her into a human and for people it usually requires multiple and expensive surgeries and hormone therapies, but you can’t deny that they are somewhat similar.

5 Reasons why Aurora from "Sleeping Beauty" is the Worst Disney Princess Ever

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Character Analysis: Eli from "Let the Right One In" vs Abby from "Let Me In"

Character Analysis:  Eli (Let the Right One In) vs. Abby “Let Me In”

By: Brian Cotnoir

Let the Debate Commence!
Okay, this is something that I’ve never attempted before for a “Character Analysis”.  I am going to attempt to review two characters from films based off of the same novel.  Originally, I was going to this review just on Eli from the 2008 Swedish film “Let the Right One In”, but then I thought to myself, how can I do one on Eli and not talk about Abby from the 2010 American version?  Now, I just want to clear something up:  I reviewed “Let Me In” for my other Blog “Confessions of a Film Junkie” back in 2011.  I ranted and raved in it about how I was annoyed that it was a virtually identical film to “Let the Right One In” and deemed as an “unnecessary re-make”  If you want more details, click on the link to my review of “Let Me In” at the bottom of the page.  Without further adieu here are my Character Analysis on Eli from “Let the Right One In” and Abby from “Let Me In”.

CHARACTERS: Eli from “Let the Right One In” and Abby from “Let Me In”.

     Since they are based on characters from the same novel both Eli and Abby have very similar stories.  They are both 200-year-old vampires that look like 12-year-old girls.  Both Eli and Abby are assisted by older gentlemen that many people in their town believe are there fathers.  Both move into an apartment complex in a new town in the early 1980’s, and befriend a young boy who lives there, and form a very close bond, and depend on those boys to help them when their lives come into danger.  They are just pretty much the same characters that follow the same plot...well to be fair they do have a few distinctive differences (besides plot location and their names, obviously).      
Eli from "Let the Right One In" (2008)
Eli, from “Let the Right One In” is closer to the novels plot, but still isn’t a word-for-word copy of her character.  In the novel, Eli is actually a boy (not a girl) who was castrated shortly after being transformed into a vampire.  I didn’t know this until I read the novel, which was a full two years after I watched the film for the first time.  The hints that Eli used to be a boy are very subtle.  I will admit that when Eli told Oskar “I’m not a girl”, I thought—like many others—she was implying “I’m not a girl, I’m a vampire”, but I was mistaken.  There’s also a brief scene where Oskar is peaking in on Eli changing and he notices a scar in near his/her genital area, but it was never touched upon or explained.  So yes all though Eli appears to be female in the film, but it is also suggested that she may have been a boy.                                             
Abby from "Let Me In" (2010)
     Abby in the film is 100% a female in “Let Me In”.  Director Matt Reeves asked actress Chloe Grace Moretz to come up with her own background story for Abby, and the story behind Abby’s transformation is that she was a peasant girl 2-3 centuries ago, when she was attacked by a vampire, who is also her Uncle.  It is a lot nicer background story than Eli’s original origin story, which for some reason is more appealing to mainstream American audiences.  Also, something both film versions changed from the novel was they changed the origin story of their “father” figures.  In the novel the man who helps out is a man named Hakaan.  Hakaan is a violent pedophile in the novel, but for obvious reason was changed to be more “audience friendly” in the film.  In “Let The Right One In”, Hakaan, is shown as more of a father type figure to Eli.  In “Let Me In” Hakaan’s character is known as Abby’s Father (or Thomas) and he is shown as being the boyfriend of Abby from years ago, and while Abby stayed the same age, he continued to age.  Thomas feeling appear to be very genuine for her.  He loves her and wants to help her, but shows no signs of lust towards her.  Again, these changes were done to make the film more comfortable for an American audience.  Other than that the only other difference I can think is, Abby appears more creature-like when she feeds than Eli.  Other than that they are the same character.


Actress Lina Leandersson
Eli in “Let the Right One In” was the debut film for young child actress, Lina Leandersson.  Leandersson was only 13-year-old at the time it was filmed, and her portrayal of the centuries old child vampire, Eli earned her critical acclaim around the world.  At the time this was a difficult and very adult role for a child to play by Leandersson knocked it out of the park.   Abby in “Let Me In” is played the more well known Chloe Grace Moretz.  Moretz does a good job in her role, at times she reminds me of a pre-teen version of Claudia from “Interview with a Vampire”, but is ultimately an exact replica of Eli from the original film version.                              
Chloe Grace Moretz
If you asked me to pick which actress did the role better, I would have to say Lina Leandersson as Eli did much better in the role.  For one thing, her character came first and was closer to the character from the novel.  Not only that, but throughout the film, I found myself being constantly interested and perplexed by this mysterious vampire girl (who wasn’t really a girl).  No disrespect to Chloe Grace Moretz, who was good in her own right, but I just don’t think she’s as good as Lina Leandersson.  Moretz as Abby comes off more as if she’s a scared little girl, rather than a wise centuries old vampire who knows what to do to survive.  Abby just seems way too dependent on other people throughout the film, as opposed to Eli, who knows what to do and can take charge of her own situation when she needs too. 


     I’d say both Eli and Abby are similar to Claudia from “Interview with a Vampire”; Abby more so.  All three were transformed into vampires at very young ages, and both are supported by older single males who act as their father figures.  All three require blood in order to survive, but when push comes to shove, they aren’t afraid to get violent or messy with their 

Abby, Eli, have you met Claudia???


     Both Eli and Abby reach the same fate.  With their former older male caretakers now dead, they seek comfort and refuge with their young male friends.  One night Oskar/Owen are attacked by group of bullies at the school pool.  One of the bullies holds Oskar/Owen’s head underwater attempting to drown him, when all of a sudden a mysterious flash comes over the pool and the bullies are all savagely killed.  When Oskar/Owen resurface they see that Eli/Abby was the one who rescued him.  The last scene we get in the film shows Oskar/Owen boarding a train with a large trunk; Eli/Abby are hiding in the trunk, and it is suggested that Oskar/Owen and Eli/Abby are running away to start new lives for themselves.  The two ride on the train communicating short messages through the trunk.

Confessions of a Film Junkie: A review of "Let Me In"

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Character Analysis: Father Jon McGruder

Character Analysis: Father Jon McGruder

By: A. Aleister Sirrat

     I was so excited when my good friend, Das Film Junkie, told me that I he had finally see Peter Jackson’s horror masterpiece “Braindead/Dead Alive”.  I was even more excited when he told me that he was going to write a Character Analysis on one of the films characters, but that excitement turned to dismay when he didn’t pick my favorite character from the film.  I don’t blame him for picking Lionel to do a Character Analysis on—after all he was the star of the film—but I honestly feel like he overlooked one of the secondary characters from the film.  So this week, I will be giving an analysis of a character from “Braindead/Dead Alive” that I feel is both interesting and worthy.

CHARACTER: Father Jon McGruder from “Braindead”/”Dead Alive”

Father Jon McGruder from "Braindead/Dead Alive"
Fr. Jon McGruder is the vicar of Newtown (NZ) and performs the funeral sermon at Vera’s funeral.  At the Funeral, when Lionel comes bursting in through with his mother’s partly-reanimated corpse, Father McGruder remarks: “Well I’ve seen some displays of grief in my day, but nothing quite like that”.  That night Father McGruder here’s a disturbance in the cemetery and goes out to see Lionel in a tussle with a group of street hoods and the Lionel’s zombiefied mother, Vera.  Facing a horde of resurrected zombies Father McGruder comes to Lionel’s aid; proclaiming “I kick ass for the Lord”, Father McGruder demonstrates his amazing Martial arts skills as he fights and dismembers the zombies.  Unfortunately, for Father McGruder he is bitten by the severed head one of one of the zombies and becomes a zombie himself.  Lionel takes his mother, Father McGruder, and the other zombies back to his house where he keeps them locked up in the basement.  While as a prisoner in Lionel’s home, Zombie Father McGruder get’s it on with the Zombie Nurse McTavish and she later gives birth to a zombie baby named Selwyn. 

He kicks A$$ for the Lord 


Actor Stuart Devenie as Fr. McGruder (pre-transfom) 
One thing I found very interesting about the role of Father McGruder is that he is played by two different actors in the film. Actor Stuart Devenie plays Father McGruder (pre-transformation) and during the Fight scene in the cemetery.  Actor Stephen Papps plays the Zombie Version of Father MacGruder.  I found this decision to have two different actors playing the same person to be very interesting.  There doesn’t appear to be a rhyme or reason why.  Neither actor died during production of the film, so that rules out that theory.  If I had to pick which actor was “better” I’d have to go with Stuart Devenie.  His one-liners and kick a$$ Kung Fu skills make for one hilariously epic fight scene.  This is as opposed to Stephen Papps who has no lines of dialogue and the only thing of interest he does in the film is hump zombie Nurse McTavish on the dining room table.


     I can’t think of any characters who are similar to Father Jon McGruder.  If you really wanted to stretch it I say he’s like a comedic version of Father Damien Karras from “The Exorcist”.  I mean they don’t have a lot in common, but they do end up getting killed while trying to help people who are possessed by an evil spirit, so there’s that.  Other than that, I can’t think of any other characters that Father McGruder is similar to or inspired by.
Father Jon McGruder "Braindead/Dead Alive"
Father Damien Karras "The Exorcist"


     Like all the zombies in this film, Father McGruder meets a horrific and violent end when the films hero, Lionel goes on a rampage with a lawn mower and mows all the zombies down a messy pile of bloody carcasses. This is the tragic ending for Father Jon McGruder.