I have to admit to a certain fondness for musicals. Fred Astaire was an idol of my childhood, as was Gene Kelly. Especially when he danced with Jerry Mouse (of Tom and Jerry). Though as much as I like a good musical, which is essentially a play/movie with more than a few dance numbers thrown in, I can't bring myself to dig operas. With every line of dialog done through song, my patience wears thin long before the story comes to a close. As such (and much to the dismay of my Grandmother), I always steered clear.
But hey, I like a good disembowelment as much as the next guy! Which brings me to Repo! The Genetic Opera, and the source of our discussion today.
Weaving a tale of betrayal, murder, corruption, insanity, and implied incest, this film is wholesome family fun, pure and simple. Taking place in a very dystopian 2056, it's been 26 years since an epidemic of organ failures crippled our society. Paul Sorvino stars as Rottissimo "Rotti" Largo, the billionaire industrialist who eventually saved the world by manufacturing and providing organ transplants for any and all who could afford them, eventually creating predatory financing plans to bring them to the poor.
Talk about your sub-prime loans.
Anthony Stewart Head is Nathan Wallace, who was Largo's chief rival for the affections of Marni (Sarah Power ) 17 years prior to the story's beginning. When Marni left Largo and married Nathan, and eventually became pregnant, the distraught industrialist poisons her. Nathan, at a loss as to why his wife is dying, carves out his daugher Shiloh (Alexa Vega) and raises her in a tower, a prisoner to his own grief.
Meanwhile, having been convinced by Largo that he was responsible for his wife's death, Nathan becomes the lead Repo Man, an assassin who's job it is reclaim organ's who's owners defaulted on payments. This burden, combined with his own guilt over Marni, causes his personalities to fracture. One is the caring/obsessed father that is Nathan, the other is "the Monster"-the personality that takes over when it's time for daddy to go to work. Whew! This is not a story afraid of melodrama.
I haven't even gotten to Rotti's children, who serve as the primary comic relief. When a Serial Murderer (Bill Moseley), Serial Rapist (Nivek Ogre), and a drug-addicted spoiled Daddy's Girl addicted to plastic surgery (Paris Hilton) are your comic relief...Well, let's just say you're in some dark territory. Even so, the plot has a breezy pace, punched up by a couple of really great musical numbers that mix traditional rock power ballads with a bit of Marylin Manson-style Industrial. Tony Head in particular, who last flexed his pipes on screen in a few episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, belts out his songs with a gusto while he hunches over, knawing on the scenery like a dog with a bone. In most rock operas, you're lucky if you like 3 or 4 songs. There are 16 here that have found permanent residence on my iPod.
A campy, blood-soaked joy of a picture, it's highly recommended for any viewing, Cavalcade or otherwise. Pair with Cannibal: The Musical, or Forbidden Zone for an event featuring fucked-up musicals. Or compare it to Repo Men, which has a LOT of similar elements, but slightly less gore.