Thursday, February 12, 2009

Repo! The Aggressive Opera!

As a firm believer in organ donation, a lifetime lover of musicals, a proud owner of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Seasons 2-7 (because I refused to pay the same price for the shortest season, even if i did get all the others at a bargain price of $16.99), and, in case you haven't guessed it, a fairly enthusiastic fan of horror, the concept of Repo! was almost too good to be true:

Quick Plot: In the near dystopian future, the demand for fresh body parts has grown so large that a corporation has started a megamillion financing company to pay for those transplants with very steep interest rates. Paul Sorvino and Sarah Brightman lend operatic cred, Anthony Stewart Head provides the eye and soulful voice candy, and the director of Saw 2 tosses in all the leftover bits from Tobin Bell’s autopsy. The casting of Paris Hilton was almost a relief; nothing could be perfect.

And Repo! isn't. But I still love it.

Maybe you will. Maybe you won't. This could be the dictionary definition of a polarizing film because there's no way to enjoy it if you can't get past its rock opera-iness. Or the ridiculous plot, brain squishing, grave robbing, Spy Kids alum, and Bill Mosely’s dance moves. Anybody that says they hated this film, I can't argue. It's loud and crass, messy and cheap, over-the-top and proud of itself. But c’mon: there’s an exclamation point in the title with no real logic (Repo! The Genetic Opera makes me want to rename some past titles like Pinball! The Who’s Tommy, Barber! Sweeney Todd’s Victorian Tale and fix Broadway’s Spring Awakening to Fuck! The Teen Sex Musical). I normally don’t approve of aggressive grammar, but this one just tries so hard and hey, maybe it’s an homage to past musicals of yore like Oklahoma! and Oliver!

High Points:
Sarah Brightman has always been a kind of dark-haired step-child of the theater world, but she is right at home in the world of this film, with an incredibly haunting voice and gorgeous look.

Picture the Nixon mask Patrick Swayze wore in the opening scene of Point Break. Now cut out the mouth and listen to it sing with a wacky and foppish Italian accent. That’s Ogre’s Gabi, and it’s kind of a beautiful and horrifying thing.

Seeing Anthony Stewart Head singing and in black leather is sort of like fan fiction wish fulfillment pornography for the Buffyverse...and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that

Low points
Of all the musical lines this film, the single one I can’t get out of my head is Bill Mosely's “I will find a hole and fuck it.” That’s a tad inconvenient in real life.

Lessons Learned:
The near future will kind of suck, but at least opera will make a comeback

Much like today, the lending crisis will yield some rather serious consequences for the general public, with dismemberment and gutting replacing foreclosure and bankruptcy.

It is possible for goth guys to be kinda hot, providing they have rich singing voices

Buy it, if nothing else, to send a message to studios that horror fans crave and will accept something different. As much as I'm giddily counting the days left to see Jason’s rebirth*, I would much rather get a Repo! cycle or surge in crossover genre experiments than another 12 films with the same story and stock characters for the next 12 years. If people complain that Saw is the same recycled garbage Halloween after Halloween then those folks need to prove that they want and will pay for something else.

*Generally, my opinion on remakes is one of disdain and annoyance, but the Friday the 13th series has never actually been good (despite the softest of spots I hold in my heart for Part 8, where Jason takes over a Canadian New York City) so as far as “reimagining” goes, I say go for it. It can’t be worse than Part 5, and maybe 12 times is the charm.


  1. You know I need to see this thing. Anytime a movie creates this much "I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT vs I HATED IT MORE THAN SATAN" controversy between people it flips a switch in my brain that makes me need to seek it out and see what all the fuss is about.

  2. "Seeing Anthony Stewart Head singing and in black leather is sort of like fan fiction wish fulfillment pornography for the Buffyverse"

    Thank you for putting into words the tingly feeling I get every time I watch this!

  3. Ah, polarizing music and Giles hottitude. Yes, everyone should do their damnest to encourage a sequel.