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The combination of musical and horror genres isn't a common one, but it somehow works perfectly. The visual style is absolutely stunning, especially for something on a comparatively low budget. The costumes are theatrical and the whole film mixes gothic and futuristic beautifully. The final scenes, framed by GeneCo's 'Genetic Opera', are something of a messed up Moulin Rouge. Although if you're squeamish about gore, you'll be hiding in a pillow a fair bit, as this movie doesn't hold back on it!
The cast is a crazy mixed bag. Ever since Giles' moonlighting acoustic tendencies in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, I've always been a massive fan of Anthony Head, and here his incredible vocal skills are put to easily the best use in his career. Also featuring is opera legend Sarah Brightman, looking incredible for 50! And surprisingly, Paris Hilton does a pretty good job outside her comfort zone, playing a spoilt, bratty heiress...oh...wait...
If you thought musicals were for drama geeks and girly girls, think again (although I am both, and still loved it!). Repo! The Genetic Opera offers something the mainstream film market fails to offer - uniqueness. The mishmash of many different musical and visual styles makes it exciting and the strong cast pull off the fast-paced, ever-changing storyline. Mixing horror, sci-fi and opera, it's Rocky Horror meets Saw meets Blade Runner, a postmodern feast of visuals and sound - a perfect cult classic.
Well, where do you begin to describe REPO!? Think The Rocky Horror Picture Show mixed with Saw and Sin City, add some operatic numbers from Sarah Brightman and er...Paris Hilton. Yes, this won't be quite like anything you've seen before.
REPO! Is set in the future where an epidemic of organ failures threatens to kill mankind. Born of this crisis is GeneCo, a company who charge the infected for organ replacements, usually offering finance options for their clients to settle their accounts. However, fall behind on your payments and GeneCo send in the RepoMan to reclaim their property...
Repo is really made up of a number of interlinking stories..
1) Owner of GeneCo is Rotti Largo, who is dying and needs to decide which of his terrible children - Luigi, Pavi or Amber will inherit his rotten empire. This breeds a real rivalry between the three siblings, each with their own stories.
2)Meanwhile, Shilo, the 17 year old daughter of Nathan Wallace is kept locked up due to a rare blood disease she inherited from her now deceased mother. Nathan is very overprotective of Shilo and doesn't want her to go out and learn what a terrible world she lives in, and indeed his part in it.
3)Part of the dark world is the underground drug scene, frequented by Amber Sweet, daughter of Rotti who has become hooked on the drug Zydrate, a powerful pain killer harvested by our narrator, the Graverobber from the brains of corpses. Zydrate is highly addictive and Amber takes it to kill the pain caused from her other addiction, plastic surgery.
4)Blind Mag is the other main character in this film, a superstar pop opera singer who belongs to GeneCo after a deal made to help her see again...
The way in which all these plots come together is very clever and there are a number of twists and turns to this unique story.
The way in which the story is told is very original. The overall look is very dark and the use of comic book style animation cut in between the live action is both visually impressive and helps to connect the sometimes complicated intertwining plots. In addition to this we have a narrator, the Graverobber, played superbly by writer and composer, Terrance Zdunich, who pops up from time to time to help us along with the developments in the story, as well as having his own part to play in the proceedings. The narration, along with most of the other dialogue is of course sung, this is a full blown operatic musical.
The combination of all these elements make this film a real treat for the eyes and ears. One of the quotes on the DVD case is 'If you thought Moulin Rouge was a sensory overload- you haven't seen anything yet.' I couldn't agree more, Repo! has so much going on, it truly is unique.
CHARACTERS and PERFORMANCES
The Graverobber is the first character we are introduced to at the start of the film. A long haired, mysterious pale faced man in a trench coat with a menacing yet engaging air, who surprisingly when he opens his mouth has a deep gravelly voice which oozes sex appeal. Yes, I found man who robs graves and sucks goo out of corpses brains very attractive. I need help. As I've mentioned the Graverobber is played by Terrance Zdunich who also co writes and composes all the music for Repo.
Shilo, played by Alexa Vega of 'Spy Kids' fame, is a necessary character but somewhat dull and ordinary compared to the other people we meet. A pretty girl with a sweet yet powerful voice, her singing did irritate a little after a while. Just her voice wasn't to my taste.
Nathan is played by the brilliant Anthony Stewart Head, annoyingly best known for his role in the terrible Buffy the Vampire Slayer, though has been in a host of far better things. He plays the part of doting yet tortured father with a double life brilliantly. As the story progresses the audiences opinion of this character changes. Again a crucial part to play in the story but without the quirkyness of some of the other figures. I can't fault Head's performance, however.
Blind Mag, played by Sarah Brightman has to be one of the most visually engaging characters in this, or indeed any film. With blood red lips, deep dark eye sockets and long black hair Brightman is both chillingly unnerving yet remaining somehow to still be incredibly beautiful. Her part, I guess isn't too much of a stretch playing an opera star, but I guess that's why she was cast.
The Largo family are at the centre of everything throughout the film and they are a strange bunch! Rotti is a typical crook businessman type, with a gangster air about him, played by Paul Sorvino, best known for his role in 'Goodfellas'. He's cast well but again, I don't this this role was a stretch. The two sons of Rotti are Luigi played by Bill Moseley and Pavi played, appropriately by Nivek Ogre. Whilst Luigi is a fairly forgettable character, Pavi is truly terrifying and I wouldn't be surprised if he stars in a few nightmares after watching this. As if this guy's creepy mannerisms weren't enough, he likes to wear other people's faces and clips them to his own creating a sort of deranged clown look. A fantastic horror movie character.
Of course, there's one I've left until last to discuss, the third child of Rotti, Carmela Largo otherwise known as Amber Sweet, played by 'famous for being famous' Paris Hilton. Now if most people said to me, watch this film, it's got Paris Hilton in it I'd say no thanks but I have to say she's not nearly as awful as I was expecting. Having said that she does play a vanity obsessed, scantily clad daughter of wealthy businessman who wants to be a respected artist (she wants Blind Mag's job) but ends up with publicity for all the wrong reasons. Sound familiar? At first I cynically thought she might have been cast in the role as a sort of joke at her expense by the makers. However a number of reports on the internet claim that director Darren Bousman originally didn't want to cast her but she was smuggled a script whilst in jail and perfected he part, blowing them away at the audition. I can't say I now rate Hilton as an actress but her performance in Repo! doesn't let the rest of the cast down.
Whilst this a rock opera, much of the dialogue I would describe so much as songs as sung speeches. Having said that there are a few numbers that are real stand out tunes and I could listen to happily independent of the film. My favourite being 'Zydrate Anatomy,' a number sung by the Graverobber and Amber in the drug addict underworld. Accompanied by a sequence of dance and debauchery worthy of any top rate musical, this is a highlight.
The listed score is a mind blowing 73 songs long (that's after they cut 10!), but don't let this put you off, as I said not all this are full blown numbers.
The DVD features the usual commentary that no one ever listens to, four deleted scenes and some making of and interview type featurettes. Nothing overly exciting however they also inclue some sing along tracks which is quite fun!
Overall, I'd say I rate Repo! Personally I love it but I know that it's very much an acquired taste and can completely understand why someone would hate it! It's not really for the faint hearted either, both because there is a lot of blood and gore, as well as some window smashing high notes from Brightman!
LOOK OUT FOR...
Two highlights to look out for which you see this. A blink and you'll miss it cameo from Joan Jett, and my favourite part, Paris Hilton's face falling off! If you're not a fan of hers watch it for this alone!
In the not too distant future, an epidemic threatens humanity causing organ failures. GeneCo arises as the savior of the human race by developing organ replacements... for a price. You better be able to afford the operation too, or at least keep up with your payments, because now organ repossession is legal. Skip a payment, and the Repo man will chase you down with his scalpel to collect GeneCo's product!
Against this grim backdrop, another tale unfolds like a rare black orchid. Rotti Largo, founder of GeneCo and the current king of pop culture, discovers that even he can hold back Death only so long. With his own demise looming before him, Rotti moves to permanently dash the hopes of his hopelessly spoiled, corrupt and blood lusty children while also sealing the final revenge on his old rival, Dr. Nathan Wallace.
Nathan and Rotti both loved a young woman decades ago. Marni chose Nathan, and Rotti has never forgiven either of them. Marni developed a blood disorder during her pregnancy, and Nathan was forced to choose between saving the love of his life or their unborn daughter, Shilo. Seventeen years later, and Nathan is still reliving the nightmare of his loss as well as blaming himself. He keeps Shilo locked away in her tower room, far from the death, grime and danger found on the city streets. Obsessed with her safety and well-being, Nathan controls her through medication she believes she needs regularly to survive... until he can find a cure. Rotti worms his way insidiously into Shilo's life, with promises of a cure, but his selfish heart is plotting the ultimate revenge. Will the secrets he reveals to Shilo save her or destroy them all? One thing is certain, the final act of this Genetic Opera is gonna be bloody!
This film has all the qualities to ensure it's place amongst other cult classics... oddity, graphic scenes, unique perspective, moments of shoe-string budget appeal, and over the top acting. Reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Little Shop of Horrors, it is bound to appeal to a very specific audience, but also has the potential to reach beyond that target audience to other viewers. At the heart of this Gothic opera, are the endlessly appealing themes of youth vs. age, shallow consumerism and the willing masses who would seemingly break their own leg to follow the fashionable dictates of society, as well as the age-old question of how much of our choices in life are dictated by our genetic makeup, how much by learned behavior, and how much genuinely stems from our unique self... and which has the most value?
There are a total of 58 songs in this musical, including instrumentals, and the tunes can be quite catchy as well thought provoking in their lyrics. One of my favorites appears at the end of the film, sung by Alexa Vega who was fascinating as the uncertainly rebellious Shilo. "Years...It's been so many years...Resenting the years, and my heredity. Oh, I have hated and loved you. I have hidden behind you, but I finally see that you I've mistaken for destiny, but the truth is my legacy is not up to my genes. True, Though the imprint is deep in me, it will always be up to me up to me." This Gothic Rapunzel goes through quite a journey to discover the wisdom and illumination of her own blossoming adulthood.
Terrance Zdunich as the Graverobber acts as her truest guide through the madness and chaos she finds awaiting her outside the safety of her tower. His voice instantly captured my attention from his first note, and the character's casual sarcasm, jovial self-interest, and mysterious need to reveal truth to Shilo make him as fascinating as Wonderland's Cheshire cat. Zdunich has only appeared before cameras once before in Chain of Souls (2001). He seems best known for his work as a storyboard artist from works ranging from Bedazzled (2000) to Into The Wild (2007). He co-wrote both the original play and the screenplay for Repo! The Genetic Opera along with Darren Smith, as well as composing for these productions. While he has kept behind the scenes til now, I for one am curious to see what else this obviously talented individual may go on to do.
Director Darren Lynn Bousman was reluctant to even audition Paris Hilton for the role of Amber Sweet, Rotti Largo's daughter. Appearing dressed perfectly as Amber, Hilton nailed her sound booth audition, capturing her the desired role. Amber, like many in this dark futuristic society, is obsessed with surgery as a fashion statement, and therefore addicted also to Zydrate, the current drug of choice for those needing relief from the agony following each operation.
She uses her body and looks as a commodity, and while she lusts after the position of "the voice of GeneCo" currently held by the much beloved and talented Blind Mag, she doesn't seem as interested in who inherits the company as her two bizarre and disturbing brothers. She spends most of her time strutting through the film in sex kitten outfits (many of which apparently came from Hilton's own closet) attempting to impress upon the world at large that her mediocre talent is worthy of media attention and pop culture worship. Is this acting, life imitating art, or type casting? Hmmm, hard to say, but it is undeniable that Hilton adequately fulfills the role.
Anthony Head of Buffy the Vamp-killer fame, is marvelous as Shilo's father trapped between his the light and dark of his own soul. Those who were never fans of the Buffy show might also be quite surprised at his considerable vocal skills. I found myself fascinated by how well he portrayed the many facets of the much disturbed and rather obsessed Nathan. He even manages to make the over-the-top number Thankless Job serve his purpose in showing the deep rift that splits the mind and soul of this character.
The talented vocals of soprano Sarah Brightman make the character of Blind Mag shine like the rare gem she is in the midst of this grimy and morally tarnished setting. Her film debut is captivating as she breathes life into the character and provides a welcome ray of short-lived positivity in this gloomy Gothic opera.
There are several technical errors sure to be spotted by seasoned viewers, moments where items inappropriately appear and reappear. These continuity errors only lend amusement and charm in a work that is destined to be such an instant cult classic. Rated for adult viewing only due to the themes of drug use, violence, gore, sexual content, and language, this film is certainly not for everyone. If you aren't offended by a someone driven to madness using another human being as a hand puppet to sing a duet, or are amused by the irony of a societal sheep testifying happily before the media that they had abused themselves to the point of kidney failure, but now "thanks to GeneCo, I can drink whatever I want!"... then this film is likely to appeal to you.
I know that I found this work's views on the inconsistencies of societal views and pop culture to be quite entertaining. This bizarre, lyrical splatterfest is perfect in its imperfection. Uneven in pacing, difficult to follow as graphic panels switch from past to present with live characters singing their part of this snarled drama, it is none the less, quite an interesting and well told tale. Settings, cast, and writers have combined to present us with something both familiar and unique. Producers have stated that this is the middle of a planned trilogy, although nothing definite has been laid out as far as time frame or casting. One thing is certain though... you have never seen an opera quite like this before!
Although I was not sure of this film at first as I am not one for horror films at all, the fact that it was a musical, (the type of films I do like) and that it had Anthony Head of Buffy The Vampire Slayer fame, it intrigued me enough to watch and I am glad I did! Though there is gore it was still not enough to put me of as the songs and the actors are amazing. Even Paris Hilton was okay in it, something that I was not expecting at all. Set in the future, it is about when organ failure is a worldwide epidemic. In comes Geneco, a futuristic company that sells organs to the public. when people can't keep up the payments on the organs they buy, then along comes the repo-man to "rip the still beating heart from their chest" I really loved this film and have watched it about 4 times now and got the album. Not for the really faint hearted, or those who hate musicals, but a film that after you watch once you will definitely want to watch again.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
Darren Lynn Bousman made a name for himself with the hugely successful splatterfest sequels Saw II, Saw III and Saw IV. However, he was smart enough to bow out before that series got overly ridiculous, and moved on to more original pastures, such as Repo: The Genetic Opera, a project he essentially worked on Saw for in order to amass the funds to release this film. It's a quirky film, and although sure to be not to all tastes, it's a refreshing take on the musical genre, which tends to be overly camp, and not much fun unless you enjoy corny burlesque sequences.
The film takes place in 2056, with organ failure at an all-time high due to environmental issues, and so new organs are supplied by the nefarioius Bio-Tech Company GeneCo, run by Rotti Largo (Paul Sorvino). The film's protagonist is Shilo Wallace (Alexa Vega), a young girl who has been held inside her home by her father, Nathan (Anthony Stewart Head), who is incredibly protective over her considering that she has the same blood disorder that her mother died from. However, a dying Largo offers her a chance to save herself, with a cure for the illness, but he has more nefarious means at heart, causing a war between Largo and her father who, in fact, is a Repo Man for the company and suffering from a personality disorder.
Assuredly, there is nothing like this insane, rather bonkers outing. Darren Lynn Bousman's rock opera is a visually vibrant, uniquely styled and grotesque musical that boasts catchy songs and impressive set design, even if the story does not always support this.
I borrowed this dvd from a friend. I had heard a little bit about it before I watched it, and I was curious about seeing Paris Hilton singing and acting as a plastic surgery addict. The film is basically a modern day musical.
The film is set in 2056 when there is an organ failure epidemic, and millions of people are going to die if they can't get any help! Then a saviour emerges, a wealthy man named Rotti who creates a company named GeneCo, who is willing to give organ transplants which he makes it affordable to the masses by allowing people to pay in instalments. The transplants seem to become quite a fashion statement and you can get transplants for pretty much anything; eyes, noses, whole faces, hearts, lungs etc. This is all good and well until organ repossession is made legal.. which means that if you don't keep up with your payments, the Repo Man will come and repossess your organs!
The film is based around two families, Rottis family (Rotti, his two sons and a daughter) who own GeneCo, and a small family consisting of a doctor called Nathan and his daughter Shilo. This is where the plot gets slightly complicated and a little hard to explain! Nathan's late wife, Marni, used to be together with Rotti but she left Rotti for Nathan. Marni became gravely ill and Nathan, being a doctor, tried to create an antidote to save his pregnant wife. Unfortunately she died from taking the antidote but the baby survived. Rotti blackmails Nathan, as he knows the truth about him killing his wife, and makes him sign a contract to work for him. Unbeknown to his daughter, Nathan works as the greatly feared Repo Man.
It is revealed at the start of the film that Rotti has a terminal illness and doesn't deem his own children fit to inherit the profitable GeneCo company. He turns his sights to Shilo as she seems like a good candidate, but first Shilo has to prove herself to Rotti. Can she do what he tells her to so she can inherit the company, and will she ever find out the truth about her father.. you'll have to watch it to find out.
The film has plenty of songs throughout. Unfortunately I thought they were all pretty bad! I don't think any of the cast are particularly good singers and none of the songs were very catchy. The bad singing made me cringe and it reminded me a little bit of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer musical episode.
The film is quite black and gloomy throughout, and there is not much colour. It all looks quite gothic and Tim Burton-esque. The film has an 18 certificate, which I think is quite a high rating for it. There is quite a lot of blood in the film, but it is gory in a comical way and not intended to be scary.
The film is 98 minutes long, and to be honest it didn't really hold my attention so I was getting a little bored by the end of it. I didn't think overly much of the storyline and the songs made it a little unbearable to watch as they were so cheesy.
There are also some extras on the dvd though these aren't too much to talk about, they consist of:
* An audio commentary with the director and three of the actors
* An audio commentary with the director, co-creators and music producer
* Deleted scenes -five minutes of deleted scenes (four scenes in total) which include some songs which weren't included in the final film.
* Deleted scenes with commentary from the director and Paris Hilton - the same deleted scenes as before, just with a commentary over the top
* Featurettes - From Stage To Screen, Assassin: A Repo Man On The Edge, Zydrate Anatomy Amber Sweet: Addicted To The Knife, Chase The Morning Blind Mag: The Voice Of Geneco
* Sing along tracks - Four sing a long songs from the film with the words going along the bottom of the screen a little bit like karaoke. You can't choose which song you want to play, they play one after the other automatically from the start.
The dvd is available from Amazon for £5.98, but it was a film I think I'd only watch once so I won't be buying a copy of it for myself!
As soon as I saw the trailer for this, I knew it was my kind of film. Dystopian future? Check. Slight cybergoth feel? Check. Anthony Head showing of his impressive singing voice? Check. I couldn't wait to watch it. It had been described to me as 'Rocky Horror meets Bladerunner' - what's not to love?! I had high expectations - and this film met every one of them.
It is set in the future after a series of serious organ failure epidemics. A genetic engineering (and cosmetic surgery) corporation has risen to power, offering high-priced replacement organs to anyone who wants them ... however, until you've paid off the organs remain the property of Geneco, and if you cannot keep up with your payments, they send the dreaded Repo man to bring your organs back!
The story concerns Shilo (Alexa Vega), a young girl who has inherited her late mother's illness and is locked away by her over-protective father (Anthony Head), who has a dark secret that he is concealing from her. I'm sure you can guess what that secret is. Here's a clue - you wouldn't want to go into his basement, as he takes his work home with him.
As the title implies, this is a rock opera. The plot is progressed more through singing than dialogue, and this works excellently. When you think musical, you don't general think 'dystopian future' or 'organ failure.' The songs are mostly excellent, with one or two incredibly catchy songs that you cannot help but hum or days afterwards. The cast are mostly strong singers, especially Anthony Head himself and classically trained Opera singers Sarah Brightman and Paul Sorvino (That's right, Paulie from Goodfellas is a classically trained Opera singer - bet you didn;t know that!). The weaker singers don't let the film down, though, as they don't sing that much.
As excellent as the film is, it's not for everyone. When we screened it at our science fiction society three people walked out, a quarter of the rest thought it was a bit too weird for their tastes and everyone else loved it. Except for one person who thought it was boring - butpersonally I ind that this film is anything BUT gory. The sheer amount of bizarreness on screen at any one time (coupled with the occasional bit of gore - we are talking about someone who takes your organs while you're alive, after all) and the catchy songs should all render the film incapable of being boring.
The special features on the DVD are excellent. There is a highly entertaining cast & crew commentary (my favourite kind), some interesting deleted scenes (including two cut songs) and 4 informative behind the scenes features. There's also a singalong karaoke feature where the bouncing ball that follows the lyrics is a bouncing heart, but I haven't tried that yet.
If your taste in films leans towards the eccentric, get this film. If you're an Anthony Head fanboy like me, get this film. If I had you at the description 'Rocky Horror meets Bladerunner,' get this film. If your taste in musicals leans towards 'High School Musical' and you're not one for scifi, opera or gore, then perhaps this film is not for you.
Oh, and Paris Hilton is in it. But don't let that put you off, she's actually suprisingly good (though she's the weakest singer in the cast).