Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008), or After All That Pomp, I Don’t Remember One Song

26 05 2009

Sorry for lying to you yet again, but destiny has a way of bringing me to these certain movies at certain times. And considering that destiny doesn’t exist, it must be something really special to change my plans on a movie, right? RIGHT? Well, today’s film, entitled Repo! The Genetic Opera, is certainly special. It’s a solution to that age-old problem that many young “punk” rockers, horror film fans, and pseudo goth kids have dealt with for decades now. Because for years, all that these poor, deluded souls have had to go on as far as musicals go are Sweeney Todd and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Nobody has really made a musical in quite some time that’s just for them, a musical that makes plenty of grandiose lamentations, a musical that features both men and women wearing copious amounts of patent leather, a musical where blood and gore are not only par for the course, but integral to the plot. Well, here you go, denizens of the night; this one’s for you. Repo! has all this and more to satisfy your taste in musical theater if you’re of a certain mindset. If only it were just a little bit better…

So, it’s the future. The date is kind of fuzzy, and so are a number of details here, but there is a massive swell of organ failures in the not-too-distant future. It’s an epidemic that nearly crippled the globe, but luckily one company came to save the day; GeneCo! They alone created from the smoldering rubble a ready supply of organs for the masses. They alone saved humanity. But that saving hand did not come for free, and in more ways than the obvious financial setback an organ represents. Because now GeneCo holds so much sway, that they passed through Congress a bill to allow organ repossession! Anyone found to be skipping payments on their bills are now hunted down by the dreaded Repo Man, an agent of GeneCo whose sole purpose is to rip the organs from their recipients as swiftly as possible!

The film follows the problems that the dwellers of this 21st century dystopia find themselves in. Everybody has very maudlin, operatic issues; blood ties, family betrayals, mistrust of those closest, etc. It makes sense here, though, because almost every spoken word here is SUNG! That’s right; Genetic Opera takes on a whole new meaning as this kitschy sci-fi horror premise is belted out with more verve than Meat Loaf’s orgasms. It’s a non-stop sing-along, with musical theatrics explaining the story and the central conflicts, like the classic… or the ribald… or what about the somber melodies of…

Holy shit. I just watched this movie and I can’t remember a damn song. That’s never a good sign. Seriously, I could not spout out one memorable or hilarious chorus, not one impressive piece of the score. It just didnt take with me. If a musical is really good, you’ll be singing or humming tunes from it for months to come. Hell, I STILL sing “Pretty Women” from Sweeney Todd, and I haven’t seen that since March of last year! Repo’s number one flaw, and allegedly its number one attribute, is its musical nature. But even I, a fan of musicals, cannot put a mental bookmark on anything of merit. The song names sound familiar, like “Zydrate Support Network”, “Genetic Emancipation”, and “We Started This Op’ra Shit!”, but nothing springs up to me.

I recall the insipid script, and of course the acting, which was churlish and vaudevillian, including surprise visits from Paris Hilton and Nivek Ogre of Skinny Puppy fame, and even Sarah Brightman of genuine vocal fame. That, plus the premise, which revolves around a guy who rips overdue organs out of still-living bodies, could make for quite a gothic, bloody, ultra-campy affair. I was ready to enjoy this movie for a lark, or even the half a laugh I got from some of the almost repulsively camp scenes. But amnesia caused by a movie is not something I suffer lightly, and I must judge accordingly.

I can’t in good conscience give this movie less than a four, because admittedly some of the scenes were gleefully kitsch, and I had a good time watching spines being pulled out of guys’ backs and placed in bags for transportation. But I honestly cannot give it a five, because the fact that a musical’s song’s impacted me so little actually depresses me a bit. Repo! The Genetic Opera, if it is your thing, is probably already a staple in your DVD tray, and if it is then what are you even reading this for? If you are new to this film, though, I would wait to watch it with a friend so one might at least have a laugh before returning this non-musical back to the video store. I give Repo! 4 1/2 “Zydrate Support Network”s out of 10.

Tomorrow, allow me to take a break between musicals. Come back then for my review of Caligula! Until then, I leave you with a REAL musical song, one that still won’t leave my head after so long: