Saturday, May 29, 2010

Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

Time for a look at one of the weirdest movies I've ever seen.

Repo! The Genetic Opera was released in 2008 to the delight of a small but fanatical cult following. It's a musical along the lines of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I didn't get around to watching it until very recently, nearly two years after its release, though I had wanted to sooner...I just didn't get around to it.

This isn't a's just a look. An in-depth look. A shocking expose, if you will. A mockery. A sham.

Beware, because nothing can fully prepare you...for Repo.

We begin in the future. As usual when it comes to movies and TV, the future is all wrecked. Watch something that takes place ten or twenty years from now, and everything is either hyper-advanced or wrecked. Ten or twenty years ago, movies were saying the same thing about NOW.

Remember back in the last couple of decades when we thought we'd all have lasers and hoverboards in 2010? Not to mention the flying electric cars, and the time travel, and the rad to the max red jackets. Guess what? We got NONE of these things....

However, we also have yet to be totally ransacked by aliens, machines of our own design, unstoppable superviruses, zombies, or our own tendency to destroy ourselves.

We're doing well here!

In the land of Repo, an epidemic of organ failures caused mass panic and disorder.

Luckily for everyone, the corporation GeneCo steps in and saves the day with their organ replacements.

Unluckily for everyone, GeneCo then just kind of takes over everything and creates a dystopian society where the corporations control everything and the rest of us are aimless druggies.

It got worse, too, as after the breakdown of society, people became addicted to the physical enhancements that GeneCo could offer. From the ashes of this broken society, a new age rose like a phoenix. The age of GeneCo. ...and of people only being able to communicate via singing. I guess.

For those who play the video games, it's worth noting that this movie has elements of both Final Fantasy VII and Bioshock. The dystopian, corporate-owned, slum-ridden future is similar to that of Shinra Corp's Midgar in FFVII, while the Zydrate vials and the general theme of the movie are very reminiscent of Bioshock.

Also, the movie is called Repo! for a reason. You see, GeneCo managed to get a law passed, saying that they could "repossess" any organs that people failed to make payments on. These repossessions are then brutally administered by the nefarious Repo Man.

It seems that in the future people don't have any decent health care either, but I digress.

The nefarious Rotti (lower right) is the owner of GeneCo. He has two creepy sons, as well as a spoiled daughter named Amber Sweet (played by real life wealthy heiress Paris Hilton... who I did not realize had actual talent for anything).

Now, the fact that Paris Hilton is playing a wealthy, self-centered heiress... this is proof to me that maybe she's more self-aware than we all thought.

And after the opening comic book esque exposition, the weirdness begins.

Graverobber. This vampire-chic lad is more or less the narrator of the story, popping in at various points to explain things to the audience.

He also robs and plunders to find Zydrate, which fetches a high black market price.

Also, he's a handsome devil, and I've heard that many of Repo's fangirls wish he would do some "plundering" in their bedrooms.


We see the first of the movie's approximately 8,000 attractive women...

...and she is promptly murdered by the Repo Man.

 He then repossesses her heart. My God man!


Title screen, and you just know we're in for a ride.

 A look at Repo's dark city of the future.

The nefarious Rotti is up to some schemings in his tower, flanked by his fishnet-clad bodyguard harem. It's like the Clinton administration all over again!

Cut to a funeral, filled to the brim with a bunch of creepy folk. The preacher is wearing a gas mask, because... well... because this movie is bizarre.

And here's the center of the movie's story, a feckless and foolhardy young lady who I will henceforth refer to as Super-Hottie (played by Alexa Vega).

Her facial expressions are extremely...well, expressive. They're one of the things I like about this movie.

Graverobber returns here, as he coolly helps S-H evade the patrols of GeneCo shock-troopers.

In a scene that makes me strangely hungry, Graverobber breaks through a wall (using a corpse as a battering ram) and drags Super-Hottie into some sort of crypt full of bodies., I'm not kidding. He used a corpse as a battering ram.

Finally, we get the first appearance of the star of the movie: the man under the Repo Man mask (Anthony Stewart Head). Most people best know him for his appearance on a couple of coffee commercials in the early 90's. Maybe one or two people MIGHT... MAYBE...possibly also know him from his seven years playing Buffy's fearsome mentor, Giles, in the brilliant Buffy series.

Tony Head, as Buffy creator Joss Whedon calls him, is actually nothing but trouble in real life. He's an accomplished actor, but according to Whedon, he frequently shows up to work pantless. That's right, wearing no pants. Just... just despicable.

He is, of course, the father of our favorite goth wench, Super-Hottie. She's sickly, so he takes care of her. There's more to the story than that, of course. He also keeps her firmly under his thumb, and doesn't let her out very much.

On a serious note... at its core, this is a movie about two father-daughter relationships: Rotti's relationship with his daughter Aimee, and Repo Man Giles' relationship with Super-Hottie. Interestingly enough, both of the women in question have the same mother. It seems Giles stole her from Rotti. That scoundrel! ...but we get ahead of ourselves here.

A great singing number follows, as Super-Hottie sings about her sorrows and somewhat erotically slams a piano.

Oh, and apparently she's seventeen.


My Bad.

From now on I will simply call her Supple Goth Wench. ...or maybe just Shilo. Yeah, I'll call her Shilo.

That's her name. Shilo.

Now ya know.

Glad to keep everybody abreast and ahead of the curve on what's going on in the movie.

Shilo longs to be in the outside world.

Exposition time, as via comic we learn that Giles' wife died in childbirth. As a result, he's overly protective of his daughter, going so far as to control her any way he can.

 Giles sings about his plights, with a rousing chorus by...

The Beatles! It's The Beatles, everybody! Let's hear it for The Beatles! I don't know HOW they got The Beatles to reform JUST for Repo The Genetic Opera!

Well, no... there are no Beatles here. This is the actual song.

It's probably my favorite song in the movie. Giles is struggling with the fact that he's the villain, the monster of the story... go ahead and listen. Towards the end it gets almost Tool-esque.

The Repo Man's struggle with doing his job even though it's morally wrong... it seems like it's meant to reflect the struggles all of us sometimes have with ourselves. It might even be a metaphor for the struggle of the United States with toeing the line of the dark side in the post-9/11 era.


I know we can infer whatever we want from these kinds of cryptic songs.
Annnnd we cut back to the ultra-decadent bad guys.

It's worth noting that GeneCo employs some unnecessarily sexy pharmacists. Apparently the only job requirement for this position is that they be able to bend over seductively every time they take something off the shelf. GeneCo only hires qualified people! And by extension, so does this seems.

This whole scene is bizarre, as the Rotti kids generally act like buffoons and Amber licks her brother's ear.


Perhaps the most decadent of the whole lot of them is the faceless Pavi... who I get the feeling might be one of the more popular characters in the movie.

The gore quota for this scene is filled, as they kill one of the sexy pharmacists. NOW THAT'S JUST UNCALLED FOR!

We get more backstory. This is where we learn that Giles stole Rotti's wife away from him. This is how both Amber and Shilo have the same mother. The mother is the common link, but she died a long time ago.

Giles reverts to the Hyde-esque Repo Man and tortures some guy to death. HE'S! THE! MONSTER!

Meanwhile, it seems there's a GeneCo fair going on, where people can get whatever organs they need or plastic surgery they want at a low price.

The nefarious Pavi is getting outfitted with a shiny new face, while two of the check to make sure his belt buckle is firmly fastened. That's right, kids, that's exactly what they're doing.

This guy epitomizes decadence, like a Roman emperor crossed with...with...Michael Jackson.

And yeah, I'd be surprised if this asshole weren't really popular with the Goth Teenager crowd.

Meanwhile, the Repo Man continues to BATHE IN THE DARK SIDE (among other things)

Comic time.

Short answer... nope.

Heh, this is bordering on deprecating humor towards miss Hilton. This movie is all about vanity.

Another great facial expression from Shilo, as we arrive at perhaps the most popular scene in the movie...

...Zydrate Anatomy. This is so bizarre that it's great.

Graverobber gets all physical with Amber, and she's all "me likey".

Graverobber whips out his trusty looking-glass, as he and Shilo check out his goods.

...and by goods, I mean a contract. A contract that's got some mighty fine print.

Take a listen. This is one catchy song.

Next thing we know, Giles can't take the killing anymore and wants out... but the spoiled children of Rotti converge on him like some sort of pack of demonic manipulators.

They're all "TORTURE THIS GUY" and Giles is all "NO! I MUSTN'T!" in a dramatic musical number.

GeneCo nurses descend on our fallen "hero", as I wonder what circle of hell this represents.

Finally, Giles gives in, and turns evil again.

...and we go right from there to a crazy rock and roll scene with Shilo prancing around doing her best impression of Joan Jett. THIS MOVIE IS AWESOME!

Giles goes off on his own... note the symbolism in this shot, specifically with the chains.

Graverobber jumps in to explain the situation a bit, since that's what he does. Seems that tonight is The Genetic Opera... and there will be bloodshed.

There it is. Featuring a performance by Repo's finest singer, Blind Mag.

Blind Mag... now there's a whole other character arc that I haven't gone into here.


...this whole finale runs the gauntlet from amazing to hilarious to haunting.

On the turntables, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas! Happy 94th birthday, Helen! She must be taking a break from stalking Stephen Colbert.

I'm sorry, I'm being told that Helen Thomas is not actually in this movie. Well, you could have fooled me!

An estrogen-fest ensues as a bunch of molten dancers saunter on in. Remember when I said this movie had around 8,000 attractive women in it? I was wrong. It's over 9,000. I think the people in charge just wanted to spend as much time as possible casting female extras. The scoundrels!

The decadence continues, as the dancers get all naughty with each other while a crowd of GeneCo fans look on creepily.

Meanwhile, she of the immaculate facial expressions, Shilo, is bearing witness to... of those wall projector propaganda messages. It looks like it's straight out of Bioshock... yet another extreme similarity to count.

The bastardly Rotti appears. Basically at this point, Giles has decided he has to redeem himself by taking out Rotti, while Shilo believes that her father is an evil monster. But as I said, this isn't a review. It's just a look. I might even avoid spoiling the end, because at this point if you're reading this and interested, you might well end up checking out the movie.

Drama follows, as Giles goes after Rotti... and fishnet-clad legs abound (just to make sure EVERY scene has lady-parts in the frame somewhere)

This... isn't what it looks like, but I thought it was an interesting still shot.

More interesting stills with Shilo, as she shows a bit of contempt for GeneCo and to a lesser extent her father the Repo Man...

...and then leaves to go out into the world.

Graverobber does one final sing-songy performance as he reads about the events at the opera, just to send us off.

Anyone want a Bioshock vial?

Seems he's still in business, peddling Zydrate and making teenage girls swoon.

We find out what happened to the villains...

...and it's bizarre.

Fitting, for this movie.

Yeah, very fitting.

In closing, this movie may even out-bizarre The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but that's some steep competition.

Personally, I wasn't totally a fan of this movie... but it doesn't matter. It's a movie that appeals to a niche, and that niche consists of the people who would love something like this. For the people it's intended for, the movie succeeds on every level.


  1. "Remember back in the last couple of decades when we thought we'd all have lasers and hoverboards in 2010? Not to mention the flying electric cars, and the time travel, and the rad to the max red jackets. Guess what? We got NONE of these things...."

    Those were all 2015! Give it time!

  2. "...and she is promptly murdered by the Repo Man."

    What's mine is mine... and what's yours is mine too!

  3. I think Genetic Opera is pretty shitty, but it was kind of entertaining. I watched it last year when I was at Santa Fe.

    Anthony Head is definitely the best part of the movie. I think he does a great job despite the fact that role in the film is little more than "fanboy" stuff coming out of Once More With Feeling.

    I like your comments on how the film might be a post 9/11 meditation of sorts.

    A lot of movies/films/novels/comics...a lot of stories now can still be considered "post 9/11" which is interesting. I wonder when we'll stop being in the post 9/11 age?

  4. Thanks for the review; I had no idea this movie existed! My father will still talk about flying cars if you ask him.

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