Repo’s Lament

The horror genre has always been maligned by the mainstream. For as long as I can remember, the general public has frowned upon not only horror movies but also games, TV programs, books, you name it. As a result the horror community has remained small and extremely tight-knit. It’s a circle of the nicest, most down-to-Earth people you could ever hope to meet. How many times have you been standing in line for something and noticed someone else in line wearing an Evil Dead t-shirt or something like that? Instantly there’s a connection between you and this stranger. You both smile and nod. Maybe even start a conversation. I’ve made so many fast friends like that. It’s pretty amazing. We love and support everyone who loves and supports us with great conviction and affection. Especially our champions, one of which is the subject of my little rant. A company who has long been one of horror’s best friends. A company called Lionsgate.

Saw IV DVD(click for larger image)Here is a studio with some balls. In 2003 when no one else would release Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, they gave it a home. They took the chance. Two years later they gave Rob the green light to deliver a sequel that turned out to be one of the best films of the decade, The Devil’s Rejects. I don’t think any other studio would have touched that one with a ten-foot pole. The chance taking wouldn’t end there though. Their slate also included what has become one of our genre’s biggest and most thriving franchises, the Saw films. When the original flick dropped in 2004, it was hugely successful. Lionsgate got behind its creators and then took a chance on a really young director whom no one had even heard of to direct Saw II, III, and IV. That director is Darren Lynn Bousman, and he pulled off quite a feat. This guy progressed the series in a direction that no one could have imagined … they got better and better. Saw was a movie that did not need a single sequel, much less several. I was one of those folks who cried foul upon the announcement of the sequels. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to eat my own words. In the end Darren’s movies have brought in around three hundred million dollars for Lionsgate.

Also in 2004 the studio took home the Academy Award for best picture with Crash. While I was happy for them, it also got me a bit worried. Now that they’ve been placed up there with the majors, would they forget about all of us loyal fans? Thankfully years have passed, and they’ve honored their roots. Like New Line, Lionsgate is a company that the horror genre helped to build, and to this day they give young filmmakers a platform to get their movies out there on a fairly big scale DVD-wise, and I commend them on that. Yet, a chill runs down my spine. Something is in the air. Could these days be coming to an end?

Recently things have gotten kind of hairy and not in a cool Lycanthropic way. In what has to be the most absurd turn of events ever, Lionsgate opted to take Clive Barker’s latest film, The Midnight Meat Train, and dump it into a few second-run theatres across the country. I’m still scratching my head over that one. The movie was given absolutely no chance to perform at the box office. This was a film that ordinarily would have been championed by the studio. When I went to see it, three tickets cost me less than ten dollars. I felt so bad that I bought three more just for the hell of it. Clive recently spoke out about this situation on MTV’s Movie Blog.

The Midnight Meat TrainFrom that article:

“There’s room for everything,” he told the site. “You don’t have to shit on somebody else’s work to advance your own material … This is all about ego, and though I mourn the fact that ‘Midnight Meat Train’ was never given its chance in theaters, it’s a beautifully stylish, scary movie, and it isn’t going anywhere. People will find it, and whether they find it in midnight shows or they find it on DVD, they’ll find it, and in the end the Joe Drakes of the world will disappear.”

Drake is the current president of Lionsgate (replacing Peter Block), whose lap the release decision apparently fell into when it all came down, with Drake choosing to shift attention to films like The Strangers, which he received a producing credit on; he didn’t want other horror movies taking away the spotlight. Clive went on to call Drake a ”small-minded nobody”.

What a sad, sad situation. Something like this couldn’t possibly happen again, could it? Enter Darren Lynn Bousman’s Repo! The Genetic Opera (review here). I caught this film recently and was completely blown away. It has easily found its way onto my upcoming “Year’s Best” list, and I’m not alone. There’s been plenty of positive buzz around this film. It’s been coming from just about everywhere and anyone who’s seen it. Everywhere … but from Lionsgate. In fact it’s been announced that when the film does go theatrical, it will be on fewer than ten screens. Color me stunned. Given that kind of release, it’s pretty safe to assume there will be no marketing budget behind it, and the folks who would have gone and seen it around those few screens won’t even know that it’s there. Dare I say it, this is even worse treatment than Meat Train received.

Ponder this if you will: Bousman has made Lionsgate hundreds of millions of dollars, and he gets less than ten screens for his new movie. That’s akin to being punished for doing good. It’s not like this is some backyard high school play. This is a visionary film with extreme marketability. Here are just a few points of interest:

Repo! (click for larger image)

  • Sarah Brightman, who just opened the Olympics, sings and stars.
  • Anthony Stewart Head plays the title character and would no doubt attract legions of Buffy fans.
  • The Goth crowd will go for its darkness.
  • The Rocky Horror-ites would go for its horror-musical appeal.
  • Loyal genre fans would be there for Bill Moseley.
  • Skinny Puppy followers will go for Ogre.
  • Saw fans will check it out just to see what kind of maniacal sickness (and wow, is it sick!) Bousman has cooked up.
  • Anyone who ever saw the play will surely want to see how it translates to film.
  • And then there’s Paris Hilton, who is one of the most watched people in the world, playing a sexy surgery addict!

    The best part? Repo! is nothing short of amazing. We’ve all been crying out for something original. Something that gets away from the formulaic bullshit that we’re being spoon fed. This is it! I’d be hard pressed to find a single thing wrong with it, and I was waiting for that moment when a song wouldn’t fit or the experience got old. That moment never came. It’s brilliant at what it does. Picture if you will The Rocky Horror Picture Show having a head-on collision with the great E.C. Comics of yesteryear set to a killer rock soundtrack. It’s an experience I won’t soon forget, and it’s a damned shame the majority of fans aren’t getting their chance to see it up on the big-screen where it deserves to be. At the very least this flick should be playing midnight showings everywhere.

    Unfortunately it seems as if the best we could ever hope for is a Blu-ray release, but with the way things are going, even that would surprise me. Could it be that one of our favorite studios is now too cool to take the same chances it normally would have? Is that a direct result of the obsession for more Oscar gold, and did anyone remind Lionsgate that plenty of genre films have won Oscars? Could it be that Joe Drake just hates horror movies and wants to distance the company from them as quickly as possible? Is he ashamed of them and us? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s an instance of the studio not having the slightest idea what it is sitting on.

    Lionsgate, we still love you and are very grateful for all that you’ve done for horror. We’ll still go see the Saw flicks every October despite how ludicrous the prospect of a second trilogy seems. All that we ask is that you don’t turn your backs on us. Considering how much money we’ve spent on your movies and DVD’s, that’s not too much to ask, is it? God, I hope not. Hold tight, everyone. This could get bumpy.

    For more on Repo! The Genetic Opera, visit the official Repo! site here.

    Uncle Creepy

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    • synjones

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    • acatinthebrain

      This is my take on the situlaton:

      1. When Lionsgate started, it was friendly with horror….too friendly for my taste as it released any kind of horror it could find and also made rip offs of the same films that made it money. That should tell you where Lionsgate stands in the world of horror nowadays.

      2. Maybe the limited run is a test to see how the crowd will react to the film, if it bombs (which would be a crying shame in of itself), Lionsgate can then release it in an unrated verison and include the sound track as well either A Cd or digital copy of the soundtrack for downloading to mp3 players. Maybe a 2 disc with a ton of extras and a music video or 2. If the movie is well receieved, then they can release it nationwide and make a killing.

      3. Lionsgate can partner with another film studio to co-promote the film.

      These are cost effective ways to satify both us fans and the stockholders.

      Thank you


    • Rorschach

      I can’t judge the film itself….REPO may indeed be everything all of you are claiming it is. However, I refuse to watch ANY movie starring Paris Hilton.

      Period. I might be missing out on the literal second coming of horror genre greatness…but eh, that’s fine by me, if it means I don’t have to sit through another attempt by Paris to “act”.

      • Sirand

        It’s a shame you’re missing out on one of the most original movies in years because the tabloids tell you to hate a person.

        • The Woman In Black

          Not only that, but she has, what, a grand total of five minutes or so of screen time? She’s far from the film’s “star.” And she pokes fun at herself and her image, which makes it even better. I have personal animosity toward several actors and actresses, but I’d never not see a film I was excited about because of any of them.

          • Terminal

            Everybody does that. It’s become a hip thing for celebretards to mock themselves. It makes people buy that they’re not so bad.

        • Rorschach

          The tabloids don’t have to TELL me to hate her….I can do that all on my own.

          Maybe if enough of her “projects” bomb to hell and back, people will stop putting her in movies? Or at least movies that they want to succeed?

          One can only hope.

          • Messiahman

            Paris is a complete sweetheart in person — fun, down to earth, and much smarter than most give her credit for — and anyone who “hates” her based on the tabloid image is just wasting energy. If you don’t know someone, what’s the point in carping on about how you hate them? Frankly, it’s ridiculous.

            She’s fucking great in REPO, and REPO is fucking great. She’s perfectly cast and utterly nails the part. Sad that you can’t get over your inane bias and give the film a try.

            • PelusaMG

              She might be a sweetheart, fun, down-to-earth and smart, but is she, “Na na na na nana, gettin jiggy wit it?”

        • Terminal

          Glass houses. Glass houses.

    • ian2005

      Crash? Pfft … if they think this gained them any industry cred they’re mistaken. Crash is this decade’s Ordinary People.

    • Mephistopheles

      I knew it was going to be a limited release, but where does it say that’s going to be on less than ten screens?

    • PelusaMG

      Lionsgate are entitled to shift their attention to other genres, just are we entitled to spend our money with other studios interested in working in our favourite genre. ‘Creepy’s rant’ chimes hollow with me regarding Lionsgate’s preferred genre of film-making, but rings loud and clear with regard to the way Barker and Bousman have been treated – esp. the latter! I agree with you Creepy, Bousman has made them a tonne of money and seemed to be really excited that they were giving him a chance to make “Repo!” (as a thank you). However, to then get screwed over marketing and distribution is a crying shame…

      Sending emails to Lionsgate is not going to change their corporate philosophy, and if we don’t (financially) support the films they do release, it will mean they will sideline the horror genre even more (claiming it to be unprofitable). But look on the bright side… Maybe Lionsgate moving out of the picture will allow an up-coming fresh and visonary studio to once again give us new and exciting horror films to go and see???

      The horror genre’s relationship with Lionsgate has been fun at times, but it seems that an inevitable divorce is looming…

    • The Phantom Stranger

      This kind of treatment for genre films and any films in general, just stinks. I’ve just sent them an email to let them know how I feel. I think that we all should.


    • The Buz

      It really is sad and dark times for Horror and its friends in Hollywood. It is a damn shame that Lionsgate is doing what they are doing, and it blows my mind that they wont release a wonderful creative, and ultimately fulfilling film such as Repo, but will spew out millions on marketing for Disaster Movie. If they wanted to become A-List studios so bad, why would they keep making straight to DVD Tyler Perry movies and releasing the next “Insert Genre- Movie”. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

      We’ve been very loyal to you Lionsgate. We made you. And now you’re stabbing us in the back.

      So, in so many dramatic words, Et tu Lionsgate?

    • Chainsaw

      Wait…we still love Lionsgate?

      No. We don’t. I could appreciate them when they were Lion’s Gate, but now, I’ve got nothing for them.

      Although I will also point out that they also took the chance of releasing American Psycho. But that was a long time ago now.

    • Doc Block

      This is just tragic. Lionsgate used to be such a great company. They’ve released some of my favorite movies (Saw and Hard Candy). I desperately want to see Repo!, but I know there’s no chance of it getting released in Utah.

      Midnight Meat Train was amazing as well, I saw it four times with four different friends the two weeks it ran in theaters, but sadly Lionsgate has not announced a release date for the DVD either.

      I completely agree with every word you said, Creepy, and I too want Lionsgate to still be a studio with balls.

    • Terminal

      Good rant if a bit melodramatic and with too much faith on a studio.

      Studios are to horror audiences like networks are to minority audiences.

      They’ll appeal to you for a good while, but once success comes, they turn you away and pretend you never existed.

      Damn Lions Gate.

    • Agonistes

      Have there been any official declarations made by Lionsgate about this? Because I would really want to know what does The Fiend (Joe Drake) has to say about shiting on top of these glorious movies.

    • jonny_numb

      Excellent editorial, Creepy! It seems that Repo! could make a pretty penny just from Hot Topic shoppers who happen to be in the mall at the time, which shows how head-up-the-ass this shitty distribution really is.

      I’ve actually spoken with a local independent theater-owner about picking up a print for a midnight showing, if possible.

      *crosses fingers*

    • Uncle Creepy

      You know usually when I decide to rant it ends up being funny or really out there. I couldn’t do that this time. Why? Because this is completely depressing. It’s like watching a friend suffer.

    • Kryten Syxx

      We knew this was going to happen months ago, so if you’ve been sitting there quietly waiting for a call to arms … this is it! Let Lionsgate know you want to see a wide release for Repo! and less of this “–Insert Genre– Movie” bullshit!

    • Sirand

      Amen! Lionsgate has become so obsessed with becoming a big A-list studio, they forgot what put them on the map. Without the horror fans, they wouldn’t even be here.

      I too have seen Repo and fell completely in love with it. Just like Rocky Horror, it’s a film that will have legions of loyal fans for decades. Yet Lionsgate wants to ignore it and put out audience-maligned box-office bombs like Disaster Movie nationwide. Hopefully the board of directors will wise up and put Joe Drake in his place before this studio becomes a sad footnote in the history of has-been companies like Orion Pictures.