Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) - Dread Central
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Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)

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Repo! (click for larger image)Reviewed by Andrew Kasch

Starring Paul Sorvino, Paris Hilton, Anthony Head, J. Larose, Alexa Vega

Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman


The term “cult classic” has been used and abused to the point where most of us have stopped caring. Over the years we’ve been bombarded with so many bad midnight movie wannabes, it seemed as though something truly inventive would never come. Well, the wait is over because Repo! The Genetic Opera is the real deal: a fiercely original sideshow freak-out of killer tunes and bloody mayhem unlike anything you’ve ever seen!

Based on the stage play of the same name, Repo! is an industrial rock musical told entirely through song (barely a word is spoken) and set in a neo-Gothic future world of flesh, blood, and leather. But it’s much more than a Goth circus manufactured for the Hot Topic crowd. Underneath the madness is the structure of a timeless opera tale with a full cast of Shakespearean archetypes. In short, Repo! works because its makers actually know a thing or two about opera and concentrate on characters over shock value and incessant weirdness (not that there isn’t plenty of both).

This rather complex tale unfolds through multiple perspectives. After an epidemic of organ failures ravage the planet, the greedy corporation “Geneco” controls the cities by selling transplants. But there’s a catch. Those who miss their payments get their organs repossessed by knife-wielding “Repo Man” Nathan (Head). As the story’s tragic protagonist, Nathan is forced to do the dirty work by greedy Geneco president Rotti Largo (Sorvino) in order to protect his sick daughter, Shilo (Vega). On top of that, Largo is dying, and a power struggle over his empire is being waged by his three demented children (Moseley, Hilton, and Skinny Puppy’s Nivek Ogre). Toss in a mysterious blind diva (Sarah Brightman) and a crazy narcotics-dealing grave robber (co-writer Terrance Zdunich), and you have a recipe for absolute chaos – with poor Shilo at the center of it all.

Repo! (click for larger image)The set-pieces are wild, and the gore is plentiful, but Repo! wisely grounds the emotion with its bizarre cast of characters. There are certainly a lot to keep track of, but the multiple character threads are perfectly intertwined and helped along by a series of back stories told in the form of animated comic strips. The cast is about as diverse as they come, but each actor – from Sorvino to Moseley – gives a perfect contribution to the film. Above all, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fans will rejoice the most: Seeing Anthony Stewart Head sing and hack his way back into the spotlight is a real treat, and he utterly dominates this film. Also of note is Alexa Vega (the Spy Kids girl, all grown up and hot), who delivers her big break-out performance. Of course, the addition of Paris Hilton will be the media focal point but for all the wrong reasons. She’s actually quite good here, playing a send-up of herself as Largo’s spoiled, surgery-addicted daughter.

Having cast off the shackles of the Saw sequels, director Darren Lynn Bousman (who also helmed the stage version) has finally come into his own as a filmmaker. No longer working with an established franchise has given him the chance to build his vision from the ground up, and he wisely abandons the music video stylings that plagued his previous films. With no more shaky cams or rapid-fire editing, Bousman’s visuals are sweeping and gorgeous. With stellar production design, Repo’s bleak futuristic world comes to life in stunning detail the likes of Ridley Scott or Terry Gilliam. Recent dystopian films like Southland Tales have had similar ambitions but ultimately drowned in their own excess. Thankfully, Bousman keeps a firm grasp on his universe and explores it all in a coherent fashion.

As with all feature-length musicals, some songs are better than others, but Repo! more than delivers its share of memorable and eclectic tunes. (The soundtrack is a must-buy!) Lovers of industrial/rock/experimental will feel right at home here, while others will have to approach the experience with a more open mind.

Whether or not it’s your cup of tea, Repo! feels 100% uncompromised, and you have to applaud Lionsgate for having the balls to take a chance on it. While it’s certainly original enough to stand on its own, its status as a bizarro opera will place it right up alongside The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Phantom of the Paradise as a cult favorite that will be revisited (and emulated) by an ever-growing legion of fans. You can’t ask for more than that.

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4 1/2 out of 5

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

  • Film
2.0

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Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor

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Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.

On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.

The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.

While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.

What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.

While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.

  • Alive in New Light
5.0

Summary

IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.

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