The 21st Century’s answer to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Repo! The Genetic Opera does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a fast paced, cyberpunk, camp B movie opera with lots of blood. If you don’t like the sound of that, then look away now.
In a dystopic future where there has been an epidemic of organ failure, GeneCo miraculously offer surgeries to save people’s lives. Their transplant organs come at a high price though, and for those who can’t afford the fees, the cost of not paying is a messy death. Repo Men scout the streets in search of GeneCo property, cutting people open in back alleys to repossess their body parts. One such Repo Man is Nathan Wallace (Anthony Head), a conflicted soul whose daughter Shilo (Alex Vega) is sick, and kept locked away from the outside world. Head of GeneCo, Rotti (Paul Sorvino) takes an interest in Shilo (having known her late mother) and from here the story races manically forward towards a crazed conclusion. Imagine a production of Moulin Rouge, set in Blade Runner‘s Los Angeles, with sets and costumes designed by Dr. Frank-N-Furter, and a level of blood you’d expect to find in Sweeney Todd, and you’ve probably got something nearing the final scene of this film.
The musical numbers range from awful, to forgettable, to fantastic, with highlights being “Zydrate Anatomy” (sung by composer Terrance Zdunich himself), and anything with Sarah Brightman in it, whose Broadway vocals are a brilliant oddity in this otherwise underground musical. Anthony Head also proves that he can still belt out a tune since the last time his singing talents were put to use in Buffy’s “Once More With Feeling”. He very cleverly and effortlessly transforms from sweet father figure to evil Repo Man within the single line of a song.
A suitable amount of monstrosity is brought in to the mix by Rotti’s band of misfit children, who strut around with scarred and disintegrating body parts, knifing people when they get in the way. “Angry” Luigi is played by a deliciously wacky Bill Moseley, who practically screams and shouts his way through the film, and Pavi (musician Nivek Ogre) is a womaniser who wears women’s faces, singing in an effeminate Italian accent that meant I could barely understand anything he said. The star of the show, however, is undoubtedly Paris Hilton as Amber Sweet, whose dead eyes finally find a home in this world where badly acted cameos are welcomed with open arms.
Repo! The Genetic Opera could never be anything other than a budget musical. The story thrives off of shoddy pacing and berserk characters, leaving the viewer to either embrace this world of camp horror rock, or run screaming from it. But either way, it’s worth sticking around just to see Paris Hilton’s face falling off in the middle of an operatic number.
FINAL VERDICT: ★★★