Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Paul Sorvino, Anthony Head, Sarah Brightman, Alexa Vega, Terrance Zdunich, Bill Moseley, Ogre, Paris Hilton
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
What can be said about Repo! The Genetic Opera that hasn’t been said already? Darren Lynn Bousman’s film has had a journey and a half from the big screen to home video, and it has all been documented time and time again.
For those of you not keeping up — upon completion of the project Lionsgate wasn’t convinced of the movie’s marketability and, as a result, gave it a very abbreviated theatrical release. Bousman, knowing that what he had was something special, took the film on the road himself, and you know what? It sold out theatres just about wherever it played with hordes of people dressing up as the film’s characters ready to sing along. Now Repo! has a life all its own. What is it? It’s like The Rocky Horror Picture Show crashed head on into the old EC horror comics of yesteryear. In a word it is spectacular.
The storyline follows a teenager named Shilo (Vega) who is sick of living under her father’s (Head) rules. As an act of both rebellion and curiosity, at night she slips into the seedier side of society without him knowing. A society run by a ruthless company called GeneCo, which is headed up by an evil businessman named Rotti Largo (Sorvino) and his three maniacal kids (Moseley, Ogre, Hilton). What does GeneCo do, you ask? They supply manufactured organs to those in need, but if you fail to pay your debt, they send the Repo Man out to reclaim your viscera in the most violent of ways.
Since this is a true opera, meaning all of the dialogue is sung and not spoken, you can bet that at the story’s heart there is a great tragedy just waiting to happen, and of course there is! Unbeknownst to anyone, Rotti holds a deep resentment for the Repo Man and thus puts together a plan to torture the poor guy by using Shilo against him. See? Told you it was an opera!
For those of you out there who are in the ridiculous “I won’t watch this because of Paris Hilton” camp, let me get this out of the way … get the fuck over yourself, will you please? She’s hardly the star. If she has six minutes of screen time total, it’s a lot, and even then while she is in it, she’s damned good. To miss out on this movie just because you don’t like her for whatever reason makes sense to you will be one of the biggest movie-watching mistakes of your life.
Repo! The Genetic Opera is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. It’s an experience that is as visually stunning as it is over-the-top violent. There’s a good reason why it made almost all of our 2008 year-end lists. One viewing, and you’ll know exactly the reasons why we’ve been singing its praises.
If you’re wondering whether to get the DVD or the Blu-ray, there’s a lot to sway you to the hi-def side. Beyond the extras, which we will get to in a bit, the sound and picture quality on the Blu-ray are stunning and completely warrant its purchase if you have the tech and are on the fence. I’m not going to go all spec-heavy on you, but believe me this flick was made to be seen in 1080p with the 7.1 DTS Master Audio track. Everything about it just screams “Wow!”
In terms of special features let’s cover what appears on both releases first and then get into the hi-def exclusives.
Things kick off with two commentary tracks, one with director Bousman and actors Bill Moseley, Alexa Vega, and Ogre and the other with Bousman, creators Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich, and music producer Joseph Bishara. Honestly? Both tracks are worth a listen because each offers something different. The first plays like a fun-filled reunion of sorts while the second is a pretty cohesive history of the project from stage to screen. Really good stuff. From there we have two featurettes; one is the under five-minute Legal Assassin — A Repo Man, which focuses on Head’s portrayal of the lead character, and the other is pretty much self explanatory. Titled From Stage to Screen, it clock in at about ten minutes. With that the DVD is over. Sorry, no more goodies for you. On to the Blu-ray.
There’s a bit more meat to be had here in terms of featurettes as we get two more, both of which are under five minutes each and character specific — Zydrate Anatomy — Amber Sweet: Addicted to the Knife and Chase the Morning — Blind Mag: The Voice of GeneCo. Considering all of the featurettes included with the exception of From Stage to Screen are so short, I have to say I feel a bit cheated. Hell, there was more behind-the-scenes stuff online which easily could have been ported over. What gives? Ok, enough grumbling. Let’s continue on.
Also appearing as a Blu-ray exclusive is a select scene audio commentary by Bousman and actress Paris Hilton in which the duo talk about a handful of scenes both included in the film and not. Speaking of which, we get about ten minutes of deleted scenes, three extra songs, and a scene with Amber yelling at the GraveRobber. Considering that about thirty minutes of the movie had been cut, the inclusion of only ten, just like the short featurettes, is kind of disappointing.
Next up is my favorite feature of the Blu-ray: the video sing-alongs! Want to dress up and go see the movie with a crowd so you can sing your heart out? Here’s the perfect feature to get you primed and ready. Lots of fun. And with that, this package ends on a high note.
Just like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Repo! The Genetic Opera may not be for everybody. But what this flick has over that is great direction, striking visuals, gallons of gore, and Terrance Zdunich, who is every bit the fucking rock star as GraveRobber! See it, experience it, and become one of the many who are already addicted to the knife.
4 1/2 out of 5
3 1/2 out of 5
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